Encounters, expectations, hopes. The intertwining of politics from East to West

The consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, not only economic but also social and humanitarian, have been the backdrop of the Italian political week. Starting with the agenda of President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, marked by two very important meetings in the past few days: the one with Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili and the one with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, both visiting Rome. Mattarella, coherently with the government’s position, is supporting the Eastern enlargement of the European Union, demonstrating a conservative and intransigent geopolitical orientation to protect European interests in relations with Russia. But the priority remains peace at this time: not surprisingly, he asked Von der Leyen, during their brief meeting, to address the Ukrainian crisis «with the same approach demonstrated in the face of the Covid».

The food crisis, after all, continues to keep Western concern high, especially in light of the failure of Turkish mediation. In this regard, the Farnesina hosted the first Mediterranean Ministerial Dialogue on the Food Crisis on Wednesday, which was attended by FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, the 24 countries in the area and representatives of seven concerned international organizations. On this issue, Prime Minister Mario Draghi also spoke out once again, opening the OECD ministerial meeting in Paris this year chaired by Italy. «The effort to avoid the food crisis must begin with the unblocking of the ports and the thousands of grains that are there» Draghi said, stressing how the grain blockade is driving up prices causing a worldwide catastrophe.

Undoubtedly not helpful in this context were the words of Russian Security Council deputy chairman and former President of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Medvedev, who wrote on Telegram that he «hates those who are against Russia», raising at the very least suspicions that he was referring to the West, and that he wanted them to “disappear”. «Very serious and dangerous words, which worry us greatly» commented Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. Almost simultaneously, Foreign Ministry Secretary General Ettore Francesco Sequi summoned Russian Ambassador to Italy Sergey Razov to the Farnesina regarding his statements on the amorality of some representatives of Italian institutions and media. Events that have contributed to keeping international and domestic tensions high, making the background climate in the process of building a peaceful resolution to the conflict more nervous. A resolution that still appears far off, as it seemed from the failed meeting in Ankara between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mavlut Cavusolgu. On the table were the issue of ports, demining, the grain blockade and sanctions on Moscow. But according to the reaction on Twitter of Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko that “Lavrov’s words are empty,” the understanding still seems a mirage.

The war also continues to affect the national political agenda as June 21 approaches. The date has been circled in red on the calendar of the government and the various political forces for some time, generating some excitement on the Italian scene. On June 21, Draghi will return to Parliament to report on the progress of the war and the government’s engagement in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, in preparation for the European Council two days later. On this occasion, parliamentarians will be called upon in a vote that is in danger of becoming a kind of parliamentary referendum on the issue of arms to Ukraine. The M5s and the Lega have repeatedly made known, in different but equally explicit ways, their firm opposition to sending arms to Kiev, now making the “no to rearmament” their political banner. Although the leader of the Movement, Giuseppe Conte, has stressed that he does not want to bring down the government, he does not seem to want to relent one step on the issue. The possibility that the parties may split on such a sensitive issue that day certainly does not leave anybody indifferent: whether one imagines a showdown, a key passage or a test for the majority, either way this will be yet another “test of endurance” for the Draghi government.

For the moment, however, eyes remain on the most imminent election date, this weekend’s local government and referendum. A long-standing political tradition, with distant roots (to the First Republic) dictates that elections, even the smallest ones, in the remotest of municipalities, take on national value and character. A deviation of a few percentage points, a provincial capital lost or regained and here are trembling broken party leaders, governments with large majorities wobble, old coalitions that, in spite of everything, had been holding for many years are called into question. Monday morning, at least on this front, ideas might begin to be a little clearer.


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