Home » Italy at the G20: a comprehensive round-up

Italy at the G20: a comprehensive round-up

Meloni G20
Meloni met with several world leaders at the sidelines of the Indonesian summit, her first major international event as Italian PM. She laid the groundwork for her relationship with China’s Xi, spoke of security with Turkey’s Erdoğan, and met with Canada’s Trudeau, Australia’s Albanese and India’s Modi – plus the US’ Biden. Here’s what she discussed

Meloni takes stock of the G20. The Indonesian summit “took place in a complex situation, yet it was a success, with Italy at the forefront on all tables,” said the Italian Prime Minister, who remarked on the amount of “attention and curiosity” around the Italian delegation.

  • Joining her at the G20 was Giovanbattista Fazzolari, Undersecretary of State at the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for implementing the government’s programme, and Giancarlo Giorgetti, Minister of the Economy, who met, among others, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
  • PM Meloni noted the importance of the result of the Black Sea wheat negotiation, “a point that Italy emphasised and was supported by all leaders.”

The missiles mini-crisis. As two Russian-made missiles landed in Poland overnight, killing two, her team was wide awake. She later voiced “great apprehension and concern” about what happened,” expressed her solidarity to the Polish government and people (she later spoke with Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki over the phone) and remarked that regardless of the missiles’ provenance, it was ultimately due to Russia’s war of aggression.

The meeting with Xi Jinping. The Italian leader met with the Chinese President, who recently secured his third term in office, for the first time in her official capacity. The conversation, according to an Italian note, touched on relations between the EU and China – with hopes of their revival –and “the need to work together for the effective handling of the most serious and pressing global and regional challenges” was recognised.

  • The leaders “paid special attention to the war in Ukraine and its consequences. They agreed that every diplomatic initiative should be promoted to end the conflict and avoid escalation.”
  • PM Meloni “noted the importance of resuming all channels of dialogue, including on human rights.”

A revamped dialogue. The past few months saw some friction between the Chinese State-media apparatus and the new Italian PM, who looks set to maintain Mario Draghi’s line: a strategic rebalancing of relations. Notwithstanding the difficulties of making distinctions when China is involved.

  • Italy’s new line was best exemplified by the words of Ministers Giorgetti and Urso: defence of the nation’s strategic autonomy.
  • The leaders’ meeting, however, was cordial, according to the Italian note. Perhaps that’s due to the lack of ambiguity around the Belt and Road Initiative (which Italy entered in 2019 and then kept at arm’s length under PM Draghi).
    • Ms Meloni briefly touched on Italy’s entrance into the BRI, which she had called “a big mistake”, speaking with the press just before her meeting with Mr Xi. “I prefer not to answer here because it would not be very courteous towards my upcoming interlocutor,” she said.
  • Also, her stance could be read in light of the possible de-escalation between the United States and China – which was hinted at the G20, following talks between the Chinese and American Presidents, and would become more realistic if Secretary of State Antony Blinken does end up flying to Beijing.
    • The timing: President Biden met with PM Meloni; then he met with President Xi; then she met with the latter. It’s far from unrealistic to assume some degree of coordination.

More meetings on Wednesday. Other than the Chinese leader, the Italian PM also met with other leaders on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

  • Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. Their talks “focused on the latest events in Poland related to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, transatlantic relations and close cooperation in the NATO, G7 and G20 spheres,” says PM Meloni’s office. Both confirmed their support for Ukraine and their commitment to the climate transition, economic recovery, and strengthening the role of women in society.
    • PM Meloni also dwelt on the importance of trade relations with Canada, which are being developed within a strategic partnership agreement framework.
  • Australian PM Anthony Albanese. “We can work on the growth of a relationship in a dynamic economy that is complementary to ours,” said Ms Meloni. “We can strengthen our partnership; we talked about the war in Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific that impacts our security and prosperity. I believe that no continent should be isolated from the rest of the world.”
    • The unspoken buzzword: indivisible security, meaning that security in the Indo-Pacific cannot be separated from that of Europe, for instance.
  • Indian PM Narendra Modi. The two talked of the “strengthening of relations between the two nations so that the potential of both can be fully exploited” and exchanged views on the stability of the Indo-Pacific and the repercussions of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, especially on the food and energy security front.
    • PM Meloni assured PM Modi of Italy’s full cooperation in the context of India’s upcoming G20 Presidency, “also in light of the magnitude of the common challenges.”
  • Her planned meeting with Japanese PM Fumio Kishida did not go through – most likely due to conflicting schedules in the wake of the Polish missile emergency. The Japanese leader wasn’t able to attend other meetings, too.

Backing up: on Tuesday, other than President Joe Biden (more on that here), PM Meloni met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. To the latter, the Italian PM expressed sympathy to the Turkish people “for the cowardly terrorist attack in which innocent civilians died.” They agreed on the need to “continue with determination in the common fight against terrorism.”

  • During their talks, PM Meloni and President Erdoğan spoke of “the opportunity to jointly seize the vast potential of the Mediterranean region” and “emphasised the need to work together to counter irregular migration and facilitate the resolution of the Libyan crisis.”
    • They also touched on Russia’s war in Ukraine and the main challenges facing the international community in which Turkey and Italy are jointly engaged.
  • The leaders “shared the wish for a further strengthening of bilateral trade relations;” PM Meloni “stressed the importance of cooperation between Italy and Turkey in the NATO framework” and “reiterated their willingness to work together to further strengthen bilateral relations between Rome and Ankara.”

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