Air defence incoming. “Today, for the first time, I can tell you that I think the sixth decree could be born next week,” said Defence Minister Guido Crosetto on Friday evening at the sidelines of an event organised by our sister magazine Formiche, referring to Italy’s next weapons aid package. He added it “could become operational in the following weeks.”
- The package will contain air defence equipment to shield Ukrainian citizens from Russian missiles, including the advanced SAMP/T system. As Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani confirmed, Rome is “working intensively” with Paris to deliver it, as both capitals must provide parts for the complex piece of equipment.
The Crosetto-Lecornu summit. Earlier in the day, Minister Crosetto met with his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu and had a “long and cordial conversation,” according to an official readout. The two confirmed their common commitment to support Ukraine and the defence of NATO’s Eastern Flank, “reaffirming, once again, that the main objective is always to achieve a just peace.”
- “The war unleashed by Russia represents the most serious threat to peace and stability on the European continent since the end of World War II, a clear violation of the principles of integrity and inviolability of territorial borders, of International Law and of the United Nations Charter,” they stressed.
- There was “perfect agreement” between the two ministers on the other items on the agenda, reads the note; “first and foremost, the strengthening of cooperation between Italy and France in the area of defence.”
Look South. Furthermore, Italy and France “recognise the vital importance of the Mediterranean for security and common interests.” The EU’s Southern border, they said, “is impacted by most international geopolitical challenges: intensified strategic competition, freedom of navigation, and the risk of high-intensity conflicts could endanger trade routes, energy supplies and major communication backbones.”
- “There are numerous interlinked, highly destabilising crisis factors, including the rise of the terrorist threat, the migration crisis and climate change. A complex geostrategic scenario, further worsened by the aggression suffered by Ukraine on 24 February 2022.”
- Last autumn, Rome and Paris clashed over migrants redistribution and border policy. Relations have improved since then: in their recent bilateral phone call, Italian PM Giorgia Meloni and French President Emmanuel Macron convened on “the urgency […] to combat illegal immigration through effective control of the EU’s external borders.”
Betting on cooperation. The two ministers delved into further topics of interest, such as the security of NATO’s Southern Flank, Europe’s engagement in Africa, the strengthening of European Defence and cooperation between the respective Armed Forces. “It is important that Italy and France, and the Armed Forces of our countries, cooperate in planning what will be our future security,” said Minister Crosetto.
- “Defence relations between France and Italy are solid,” added Minister Lecornu. “We had one of our regular exchanges, which started during a bilateral in Toulon a few days after his appointment. In the same constructive spirit, we reaffirmed our willingness to pursue our agenda of military support to Ukraine, to protect the Mediterranean against new threats and to study the enhancement of joint production capabilities in ground-to-air defence.”
Crosetto’s take. “Today, we have addressed many issues, first and foremost the security of our two countries, starting with the Eastern Front and what is happening and continues to happen in Ukraine. We also talked about the security of the Wider Mediterranean, Central and North Africa, military and industrial cooperation, and the possibility of building together a security and defence vision that has the courage to think not only about our two countries and the Wider Mediterranean, but also about the future of European defence.”