The following are excerpts from our sister website’s interview with Maria Tripodi, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
On the European Union and the Indo-Pacific. The EU’s “new political vision for the region” shines through the recent EU-Pacific Forum, held in Stockholm, and its participation in key multilateral fora such as ASEAN, remarked Ms Tripodi. “Italy, for its part, plays a leading role within the partnership.”
On Italy and the Indo-Pacific. “Naturally, we are the first to encourage a strengthening of the dialogue between the EU and the Indo-Pacific, as we’re also aware of the volume of trade and the importance of Southeast Asia acting as a stabiliser where regional tensions persist.”
- The Italian government is taking various steps to intensify its presence in the region.
On Rome’s relations with Beijing and the BRI decision. Ms Tripodi believes the two “are distinct and do not go hand in hand. China is an important trading partner. The trade volume is very significant. Our bilateral relations are part of normal trade and diplomatic relations,” she stressed.
- “However, it is up to our government to thoroughly assess the best choice to protect the national interest.”
- PM Meloni is reportedly yet to decide on whether to exit the BRI. However, her government signalled it’s likely to walk away – while attempting to cushing the near-inevitable economic backlash.
On the G-7. The undersecretary defined the invitation of several Indo-Pacific nations to the upcoming summit in Hiroshima as “extremely significant. Countries that for too long have been spectators in the evolution of geopolitical balances are being made participants and protagonists in the world’s highest summit,” she said, calling it a “first step towards the involvement of important and increasingly strategic players.”
On Italy taking over the G-7 in 2024. Rome, stressed Ms Tripodi, will “continue to be a leading actor on the international chessboard and a reliable interlocutor for our partners” as it proves “on a daily basis” on matters like the unconditional support for Ukraine, the engagement in the Balkans’ EU integration, and the new strategic vision for Africa.
- In July, she added, Rome will hold the Food Systems Stocktaking Moment together with ASEAN and LDC5 countries.
- This dynamism, she concluded, “finds us ready to pick up the G-7 baton from our Japanese friends. We stand ready to be a bridge for dialogue in a time of conflict.”