Yesterday's meeting at Palazzo Chigi between Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gave rise to an initial exchange of views.
The interview of Stoltemberg with the premier seemed to be motivated above all by the desire to understand the intentions of the new Italian government.
Several topics addressed:
International missions: (Libya, Afghanistan, stabilization of the South flank, Italy's investments in NATO)
- First of all, the issue of Libya, at the center of the attention not only of NATO but also of Italy, as the homeland of the majority of refugees arriving to Europe: greater participation by Italy, the EU, and possibly also by NATO , in the strategy of reducing the instability of the country led by Fayez Al Sarraj;
- Stoltenberg, who recalled the "excellent work" carried out by Italy in Afghanistan and Kosovo and said he was "impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the Italian military". A non-random reference, but rather an invitation to the new government to reaffirm participation in an important mission for the Alliance;
- (stabilization south flank):"We think it is natural that our country can play a key role in the security and stability of the southern flank, an arc of instability that extends without interruption from the Mediterranean to the Middle East. This is where the most direct threats to the security of our citizens come from, "including" terrorism, trafficking of all kinds, trafficking in human beings and the proliferation of weapons.". Thus, it is on this region that the new government (which on this front seems in line with the previous one) "has asked NATO to be more focused with its own efforts and action". The idea is to continue operating "to raise awareness of the Alliance on the centrality of the enlarged Mediterranean", with an adaptation that NATO has already undertaken but "which we believe should be strengthened and accelerated", with greater "planning", "a more robust collaboration and assistance to regional partners ". In this sense, the Hub of Naples can be "a very useful junction for the Alliance's capacity for action and collaboration with the other partners in the Mediterranean";
- (Italy's investments in NATO)"We do not want to shirk the responsibility and commitments of the Atlantic Alliance". Italy firmly believes in the Alliance as a pillar of European and international security. Since the foundation of NATO, Italy has invested a lot, both from a political point of view and from a financial point of view; and will continue to do so, "said Conte;
Increased dialogue with Russia and the issue of sanctions
For "delicate and complex subject of relations with Russia", a clearer opening was announced by the new Italian executive.
"After the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, NATO has adopted a two-track approach: firmness of principles and deterrence on the one hand; and dialogue on the other ".
Conte confirmed this approach of Italy, focusing mainly on the second track, while also respecting what is foreseen by the first: "We will work to increase the missions of the NATO-Russia Council, for a more constant collaboration among the military leaders so as to avoid misunderstandings and potential escalation. Russia is essential in many crisis theaters; without his involvement it is difficult, or impossible, to arrive at their solution in a realistic and lasting way ".
Italy will also push on the reformulation of the sanctions regime: we only need to understand how it will do it, if in agreement with the allies or by vetoing the next renewal at the end of July, a scenario that would undoubtedly undermine European cohesion.
"Restrictive measures are only an instrument within an overall framework of action, they must never be an end, nor must they repress the development of relations between civil society ". In this sense, the premier explained, "NATO can also contribute to openness to dialogue and mutual understanding, in the mutual interest in European and international stability and security".