The fall of Italian diplomacy

Since the early days of the new Italian government, the diplomatic capacity of Italy has begun to fall.

The coalition government, created after the agreement between Luigi Di Maio from Movimento 5 stelle (no ideology) and Matteo Salvini from Lega (right),has found difficulties to keep good relations with key countries of Europe. The cause is probably in the lack of preparation in the diplomatic sphere and in the search for national sovereignty.

Matteo Salvini–deputy president of the council and minister of the Interior – is one of the most discussed politicians in Europe. His anti-immigration vision brings him closer to the countries of the Visegràd area (Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic) but drives him away from the rest of Europe. Luigi Di Maio–deputy president of the council and minister for economic development –tries to propose another way in Europe, looking for all movements protest as allies. While Salvini turns away from Junker (calling him “a drunk”) and the other European leaders, Di Maio turns away from Macron and French government as he meets the yellow vests.

The questionable diplomacy of the Italian government has created substantial problems. France recalled its ambassador to Italy on February 7, a remarkable diplomatic split between neighbors and European Union allies, after what it described as “repeated, baseless” attacks by Italian political leaders against France. The rupture, the first withdrawal of a French envoy to Rome since World War Two, was announced by the foreign ministry. Even inside the European Council, the situation is not harmonious for Italy. In fact, Rome has vetoed an EU statement on the Venezuela crisis amid political confusion in the peninsula. Italy was the only State in the European Union to refuse to recognize Guaidò as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

The results of these policies consist of fall of Italian diplomacy which is driving Rome in a diplomatic isolationism, despite the attempts of Giuseppe Conte, Italian president of the council of ministers, to sew up the international relations.

As concerns president Conte, his attempts are not very effective. In fact, Conte is not seen as the real chief of the government. The last few events can confirm this sensation.

On February 13, in the background of the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe party, asked Conte how much longer he would be “the puppet” of Italy’s two deputy prime ministers. This consideration is certainly shared by a large number of politicians.

How can Italy regain its importance? Italy needs international credibility after a questionable management of the diplomacy in the last decade. The initial nine months of the new government (dubbed “the government of change”) have not been encouraging. The economic aspect is fundamental. According to the European commission, the European economy is expected to grow for the seventh year in a row in 2019, with expansion forecast in every Member State. The forecast of 2019 condemns Italy in last place.

Alongside the economic aspect, the foreign policy is essential. The good neighbour policy matters; strengthening the cooperation mainly with France and Germany is very important in order to recover a prestigious position in Europe. The policy on the management of immigration should be a priority. The management of migration flows implies the beginning of a dialogue with the countries from which migrants leave. The dialogue between Italy and Libya started the last year, but it is still not highly effective.

Finding new points of reconciliation, opening a dialogue with European leaders, proposing new ways to resolve the immigration issue and reinforcing a shared political action in Europe is the key to a rise of Italian diplomacy.

Is this the moment to go over current political positions?