Home » Sayers and doers. The Rome-London entente

Sayers and doers. The Rome-London entente

Cleverly Wallace Tajani Crosetto
British Defence Minister Ben Wallace was guest speaker at the Pontignano Forum in Rome, and along with his Italian counterpart Guido Crosetto he'll travel to Japan to work on the GCAP project. Security and defence are the lintels on which cooperation is being strenghtened

Defence talks at Pontignano. There are countries that say and countries that do. And “Italy and the United Kingdom are countries that say and do,” said British Defence Minister Ben Wallace, guest speaker at the Pontignano Forum organised at Villa Wolkonsky – the official residence of the British ambassador in Rome, Ed Llewellyn.

  • This was Minister Wallace’s second Italian visit in two months. On stage with him was his Italian counterpart Guido Crosetto, who noted the Anglo-Italian one is a “privileged relationship” for defence, industry, and trade.
  • This was demonstrated by the late-morning meeting in the 2+2 Foreign-Defence format, where the Defence Ministers spoke alongside Foreign Ministers James Cleverly and Antonio Tajani. An opportunity to “build a piece of future history together,” according to Mr Crosetto, and strengthen the bilateral relationship.

Jointly tackling challenges. In the face of “complex challenges” that require “the utmost common commitment […] our friendship and our excellent relations can make the difference,” wrote Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in a letter to Ambassador Llewellyn.

  • On Wednesday, Italy and the United Kingdom signed a declaration of intent on the Strategic Dialogue for the promotion of bilateral exports and investments.
  • Ukraine, NATO, energy and climate security, trade and immigration are the issues at the heart of the relationship between Italy and the UK that Minister Cleverly emphasised before the 2+2 meeting. But security and defence, as witnessed at the Pontignano Forum, are the lintesl on which the friendship between the two countries is being strengthened.
    • “From our shared vision comes cooperation” in defence, said Mr Wallace.

The Ukrainian front… Ukraine is “a battle for freedom, for international law, for Europe,” said Minister Crosetto at the Forum. “We are trying to avoid World War III,” he explained, emphasising the commitment that earned him attacks from Russian diplomacy and Dimitri Medvedev, vice-president of the Russian Security Council.

  • The first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine will fall on February 24. It will be remembered as “the day of infamy,” said Minister Cleverly, quoting US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at the Pontignano Forum.

… and beyond. Rome and London are also looking to new challenges in Africa and the Indo-Pacific. The alliance with countries with which we share threats will be “increasingly fundamental,” said Minister Crosetto, citing Russia and Iran in the medium term – and, above all, China in the long term.

  • “The next front will be Africa,” he added, where “Russia and Wagner are increasing their presence, terrorism is finding new strength, China is occupying pieces of power, economy, resources.”
  • That’s the underlying reasoning behind Italy and the UK’s agreement, along with Japan, to jointly develop the sixth-generation fighter under the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP), combining the Anglo-Italian Tempest and the Japanese F-X jet designs.
    • It is an important signal, Minister Crosetto explained, “because Japan has changed its posture,” referring to Tokyo’s new strategic documents. “And if Japan changes, it means the world changes.”

Tokyo-bound. In March, Ministers Crosetto and Wallace will be in Japan, the latter announced. They will meet their Japanese counterpart to work towards the establishment of the consortium underpinning the GCAP. “There is a long way to go,” explained Minister Wallace, but the “political, military and industrial” will is strong. “It is essential to write the rules so that countries and companies feel equally represented,” said Minister Crosetto, speaking of the objectives of the forthcoming trip to Japan.

Image: Italian Defence Ministry Twitter profile

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