Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) receives the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for her inaugural visit to Berlin today. The most important topics are likely to be migration to Europe and the war in Ukraine. Meloni is greeted with military honors in the afternoon. The leader of the far-right Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) party has been in office for more than three months.
Scholz should listen carefully to what Meloni has to say about the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. While other EU countries as well as the USA and Great Britain were debating tank supplies for Kyiv, Italy tended to stay out. The parliament in Rome passed several aid packages with arms deliveries. It was not about a possible delivery of the Italian main battle tank Ariete.
First head of government
Meloni hasn't been to Ukraine either. Predecessor Mario Draghi traveled to Kyiv together with Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron in June 2022. According to a report in the newspaper "Corriere della Sera", a visit is planned for this month. The 46-year-old is the first woman to head an Italian government.
Meloni's election victory in September was received with concern in many EU countries. Economic chaos, a tough course against migrants and new unrest in relation to Brussels were feared. In her first 100 days, however, Meloni acted less radically than some expected. She was particularly noticeable with decisions on domestic political issues - less on the international stage.
"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.
Hofreiter: Meloni represents post-fascist party
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. 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.
Union foreign policy expert Jürgen Hardt, on the other hand, demanded that Meloni's government should be measured by its EU policy, compliance with the rule of law and its support for Ukraine. "On all three points, one must state that the government has met the expectations of its partners," he told the Funke newspapers.
Migration a point of contention
Because of the EU summit in Brussels at the end of next week, Meloni also wants to address the issue of migration in the chancellery, as was heard from her office. In principle, Meloni wants to prevent refugees and migrants from making their way from North Africa to southern Italy. Her government has already enforced tougher rules against aid organizations that help migrants in need in the Mediterranean.
This topic was always a point of contention between Berlin and Rome. Many of the aid organizations come from Germany and sail under the German flag. In the meantime, Rome wanted to get the flag states to take care of the migrants, but failed.
It has become quiet about an action plan that Scholz initiated during a visit to Rome in December 2021 with Meloni's predecessor Draghi. The project is intended to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various areas - similar to a kind of friendship treaty.