Rome looks East. Italy is “intensifying” its presence in the Indo-Pacific region “given its growing geopolitical and economic relevance,” Italian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Giorgio Silli explained last week.
- During the question time in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, the Undersecretary recalled that Italy’s “inclusive” vision for the Indo-Pacific is summarised in the document “Italian Contribution to the EU Strategy for the Indo-Pacific” released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 2022.
- This text will be updated “as and when necessary, in light of new priorities and opportunities for economic and sectoral cooperation with multilateral bodies and countries in the macro-region,” the Undersecretary explained.
New partnerships. The Undersecretary also emphasised that Italy has elevated its relations to a strategic partnership with Japan (a country with which, together with the United Kingdom, it is working on the sixth-generation jet project) and India. Relations with South Korea have been at the strategic partnership level since 2018.
- Diplomatic career staff in Japan, Australia, and Bangladesh have increased. In addition, “further measures” are planned given Expo Osaka 2025, new posts for economic and trade promotion officers have been established in Manila, Jakarta, and Osaka, and a new Consulate General has been opened in Bangalore.
- “Local contract staff has also been increased in seven countries, with a focus on China, India, and Pakistan,” he added.
- The Undersecretary also mentioned the recent deployment in the Pacific of Morosini offshore patrol vessel, which could anticipate that of the flagship Cavour aircraft carrier.
The “inclusive” vision and China. “Our inclusive vision of the Indo-Pacific allows us to continue to cultivate dialogue even with the People’s Republic of China, which, because of the size of its economy and population, remains an indispensable interlocutor” on global issues such as climate change, energy transition, pandemic response, and food security.
- “However, this was always in constant agreement with our EU and like-minded partners, without ever abdicating the firm defence of our principles and values,” the Undersecretary pointed out.
- These goals inspired the meetings with the Chinese authorities, including the bilateral between PM Giorgia Meloni and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Bali G20 in November.
- No indication has come from the question time on the Silk Road. The Meloni government will have to decide by the end of the year on the renewal of the memorandum of understanding signed in March 2019 and which is set to auto-renew unless one of the two partners decides to take a step back by notifying the other party three months in advance.
Needing for a doctrine. Paolo Formentini, a League MP who tabled the question, “appreciated” the government’s “effort”, but there is “much to be done” still, the majority MP continued, calling on the government to draw up a doctrine for a region where “the future of our democracies will be played out”.