Professor Orsini, what is the geopolitical lesson of Spinaceto’s spy story?
“Italy is an extremely strategic country because it hosts many American soldiers on the national territory. It is one of the countries where American nuclear warheads are located. For these two reasons alone, Italy is considered a fundamental country in the eyes of the United States. Often we do not have the perception of it because our relations with the US are extremely good. But if we started having tantrums, we would realize a lot more. Let’s take the case of Turkey. Why do we all have the perception that Ankara is so important? Because from time to time Turkey argues with the United States or even collides. On closer inspection, it is not that Italy has a less important role than Turkey, quite the contrary. The absence of turbulence due to the excellent relations with Washington sometimes makes us forget this, with the result that we Italians lose awareness of how important we are ”.
When it comes to secrets, do Russians perceive us as more permeable than other Western countries?
“I don’t think Italy is a permeable or vulnerable country as far as secrets are concerned for a very simple reason: these secrets are not kept only by us. On the Italian territory there are also many American generals; to think that all the secrets of Italy are only under the control of Italy is not correct. I think this point is not clear enough. In France this phenomenon does not exist, because France does not host American bases and American soldiers. In France you have France, in Italy you have Italy and a piece of another country, which is physically present on our territory with structures, buildings, soldiers, airplanes, missiles, bombs and so on ”.
Yet, under the Conte 1 and Conte 2 governments, our relations with Russia and China have become closer …
“This is absolutely true. Italy is Russia’s best ally in the European Union. Italy’s policy is this: when it is necessary to adopt sanctions against Moscow, Italy takes the side of the United States and introduces the sanctions, but then, starting the next day, it works to remove them. The solidity of relations between Italy and Russia is a constant of our foreign policy, but it always comes after the priority of the excellent relationship with the USA.
As for China, the speech is the same. Indeed, Italy is seen a bit like the soft underbelly of the European Union, also because we were the first to have officially joined the New Silk Road with the agreements signed in Rome by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Giuseppe Conte in March of 2019. Despite Trump’s opposition, the Italian government went ahead anyway, marking a moment of discontinuity with respect to the normal relations between Rome and Washington. However, it was only a parenthesis, our international position remains Atlanticist and it could not be otherwise ”.
Does not entering into trade agreements and having joint projects with Moscow or Beijing mean putting this position at risk? Is the image of Italy as a middle ground wrong?
“Our relations with Russia are solid, but we do not have colossal projects in common with the Russians like Germany, which is closely linked to Moscow through the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. information with Russia? Economic relations are one thing, alliances another. Americans clearly don’t like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s permeability or vulnerability of the system.
We are necessarily a borderland, even in our relations with Turkey. We are geographically and therefore also strategically, from the Balkans to the Mediterranean.
The choices our country has made in recent years are choices that bind us more and more to the United States. It is true that we have closer relations than other countries with Russia or China, but this does not call into question what our priorities are. Draghi on this is a guarantee because he is absolutely pro-American. With Salvini as Prime Minister, one could pose the problem of priority relations with Russia, but with Draghi this danger does not exist ”.
The umpteenth rift in the 5 Star Movement has taken place around the Russia-USA question. Yesterday, while Di Maio was being tough on Moscow, a post against America was published on Grillo’s blog, relaunched by Di Battista. Other than fluctuations, here we are at the dichotomy. What do you think?
“The 5 Star Movement, we all know, has many souls: there are those who are aligned with Russia and those with the United States. From this point of view, it is a very inhomogeneous party because it has neither a history nor a tradition. It is a party that did not even have time to clarify its ideas: it brought together a lot of people who recognized themselves under a series of slogans that had nothing to do with international politics; then, as soon as we started talking about it, completely divergent positions emerged. They agreed that caste had to be ‘overthrown’, not what to think of Washington or Moscow. Even today, the M5S, as a political party in Parliament, does not have a clear line of foreign policy, it remains very fluctuating. Their line has changed a lot from the first to the second Conte government, and now they are still looking for a synthesis ”.
Salvini, meanwhile, flew to Budapest to meet the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the Polish Mateusz Morawiecki …
“That is now part of a story that has already passed. The foreign policy made by M5S and Lega followed lines dictated solely by circumstances, without any strategy, without any sense. Salvini talked a lot with Orbán when he thought it might be useful to overthrow the Merkel-Macron table in Europe. Today he re-explores this route but without really knowing in search of what. For the League, as for the 5 Stars, the comet is internal politics. The League is a party that was born to govern small provincial towns in the north, international politics is only an occasional attendance “.
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