On the day of her visit to Berlin, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called for a focus on the countries of origin when it came to the issue of migration. "We are confronting a situation that is special throughout Europe," said the right-wing politician on Friday in the Swedish capital Stockholm, referring to her country. Italy receives tens of thousands of boat migrants from North Africa every year. In Europe, there is a lot of talk about defending borders, but the issue of migration across the Mediterranean is much more difficult to delve into on a structural level. In Meloni's view, the countries from which the people come should start in order to steer the development of migration.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) received the head of the right-wing party Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) on Friday afternoon in Berlin with military honors. Migration to the EU and the war in Ukraine are likely to be among the most important topics of their meeting. During her visit to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, she said that the entire day was devoted to preparing for the upcoming EU special summit. Sweden currently holds the EU Council Presidency. Migration will be an important topic at the EU summit at the end of next week.
Scholz will probably listen particularly carefully to what Meloni says about the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Italy is supporting Ukraine with weapons, but the Mediterranean country has stayed out of the recent struggle for main battle tank supplies. Unlike her predecessor Mario Draghi, Meloni has not visited the country since the outbreak of war. According to media reports, she plans to do so this month.
Difficult relationship with Germany
Meloni and Germany, however, that was a difficult relationship even when the Roman woman was at school. "I tried to learn German, but I didn't make it, even though I'm a nerd. I'm allergic to Germany, even to books," she said in an interview in April 2019. In her biography, she tells of an oral exam on the German author Thomas Mann and his work "Death in Venice", in which she unexpectedly had to answer in German.
Meloni had also been critical of Germany politically in the past. Shortly before the election at the end of September 2022, when the EU countries were arguing about a gas price cap, she accused Berlin of blocking the project because the Federal Republic was more dependent on Russia for its gas supplies and could have afforded higher prices. Before the war, Italy got almost 40 percent of its gas from Moscow.
Because of the close ties between her coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi and Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, there were questions about Italy's attitude towards Russia when Meloni's government took office. In 2018, Meloni congratulated Putin on winning the election again - the will of the Russian people was clear, she wrote on Facebook at the time. She has been governing the Mediterranean country with almost 60 million inhabitants since the end of October and made it clear right from the start in a speech in parliament that Italy would remain a "trustworthy partner" in NATO. She condemned the Russian war in Ukraine: "We must not accept the war of aggression and violation of the territorial integrity of a sovereign nation."
More than 100 days in office
Meloni and her right-wing government have been in office for a little over 100 days. Some observers have not seen a clear course so far. "Meloni's first 100 days in office have been marked by very cautious steps on sensitive issues such as the relationship with Brussels, the management of public finances and support for Ukraine," says political expert Wolfango Piccoli. It is still unclear what she actually stands for. Your government has not done much so far.
So far, there has been no discernible break in Italian foreign policy - not even on the subject of Ukraine, said SPD foreign policy expert Nils Schmid to the newspapers of the Funke media group (Friday). At the same time, Schmid called for vigilance. The chairman of the Europe Committee in the Bundestag, Anton Hofreiter, warned not to be fooled by a reserved demeanor. "Meloni is still the representative of a post-fascist party that takes extreme right-wing positions," said the Green politician.