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Remembering Henry Kissinger: Italy’s farewell

PM Meloni expressed the nation’s condolences for the passing of the famed policymaker. From the Cold War up until his very last months, he has had several encounters with the main characters of Italian history. Here’s how Rome remembers him

Rome salutes Henry Kissinger. On Thursday, the former United States Secretary of State and influential policymaker passed away at the age of 100. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called him “a reference point of strategic politics and world diplomacy” and said it had been a “privilege” to discuss issues on the international agenda with him as recently as last summer.

  • “His passing saddens us, and I express my personal condolences and those of the Italian government to his family and loved ones”, said PM Meloni.

His last Italian dalliance. Mr Kissinger shaped the world’s history, including Italy’s, until the very end. When meeting US President Joe Biden in Washington at the end of July, the Italian PM met with him to discuss artificial intelligence – which is set to be a core theme of the Italian-led G7 next year – a matter the late statesman had been studying even at his advanced age.

His marks on Italy. Mr Kissinger’s life intersected with Italy’s political history on several occasions. 

  • While he was Secretary of State in the 70s – a period of extraordinary political tensions in Italy and Europe – he attempted to discourage then-PM Aldo Moro (Christian Democracy Party) from bringing the Communist Party into his political majority.
  • Mr Kissinger also famously called the late Italian President Giorgio Napolitano – who had walked an Atlanticist path during the Cold War years – his “favourite communist.”
  • During the 2008 financial crisis (and under the latter’s presidency) Mr Kissinger was the only foreign citizen to be interviewed by the Italian Parliament’s Intel Committee about the national security implications of sovereign funds. 
  • Most recently, he had made a surprise appearance at an award ceremony for former ECB President and Italian PM Mario Draghi, where he reminisced about their 30-year friendship, which began over shared sandwiches on a plane.

Beyond politics. Famed businessman Gianni Agnelli was considered his “Italian friend” par excellence, but he was far from the only one. Other famous friends in Italy’s industrial world included former Fiat manager Cesare Romiti and Fabiano Fabiani, former head of Finmeccanica, an Italian defence titan (now Leonardo).

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