Choose your friends wisely. In his last press conference before the September 25 elections, outgoing PM Mario Draghi did not spare the parties – especially the League and the 5 Star Movement – from his barbs.
- “I asked myself: ‘How is it that one chooses one’s partners?’ Surely on the basis of a certain ideological commonality, he said, proudly recalling that he had put Italy back on a staunch pro-European and Atlanticist course.
- However, he added, “one should also keep the Italians’ interest in mind. One should ask oneself, ‘Which partners help me protect the interests of the Italians best? Who matters most among these partners?’ Give yourselves the answers,” he told the journalists attending the presser.
On the League and the Five Star Movement. “Sanctions work”, said PM Draghi. “Otherwise, it would be hard to explain some of Putin’s recent behaviours.”
- Asked about the League leader’s scepticism about Western sanctions, he noted that the centre-right coalition hosted “many points of view. Does Salvini’s prevail over others? I cannot tell. The current government does not share this view.”
- “You cannot vote to send weapons and then say you disagree. Or, even worse, take pride in the Ukrainian advance after you have voted, and are, against sending arms. How’s Ukraine supposed to defend itself, with its bare hands?” This message had an unmistakable addressee: Giuseppe Conte, leader of the 5 Star Movement, who had done exactly that.
On the US dossier on Russian international corruption. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “confirmed to me the absence of Italian political forces in the list of recipients of Russian funding” that recently threw Italy in a frenzy.
- Mr Blinken also “reserved the right to verify whether there was evidence of funding in other documents available to the American authorities, and undertook to communicate this through institutional channels,” he added.
- The answer was given by reading a written text, underscoring the delicacy of the issue.
Setting the record straight. That phone call originated from Mr Draghi’s office. “The most natural thing to do was to ask him what he knew,” he explained. In talks between the Italian agencies, “American intelligence – as opposed to the State Department – confirmed that it had no evidence of covert Russian funding of candidates and political parties competing in the current electoral round.”
“Italian democracy is strong. External enemies, or their hired puppets, are not beating it,” remarked the PM right after. “There is nothing to be surprised about,” he continued, citing Russian attempts to influence democratic processes around the world, including the United States. “Still, as of today, this is the situation,” he assured.
The hearing. In the morning, undersecretary Franco Gabrielli (who oversees intelligence operations) was audited by Parliament’s Intelligence Committee over the US dossier. Chairman Adolfo Urso later explained that “no elements concerning the national security of our country have emerged.”
But mysteries still linger. As reconstructed by Repubblica, two dossiers exist. The main one is classified, its offspring had been circulated to the embassies. PM Draghi reportedly asked Secretary Blinken about the first one but received no reply.
- “The new executive will have to work with this sword of Damocles hanging over it,” wrote the newspaper. “It will certainly end up being conditioned by it, since it could be declassified at any time.”