All eyes focused on the West where an international event was held this week: the annual NATO Summit held in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The leaders of the Western world gathered in one of the largest post-Russian invasion events, with the intention of strengthening the Atlantic axis and reinvigorating the very nature of the Alliance. A matter that is more relevant today than ever, especially in light of the war in Ukraine. Among the prominent participants was also Giorgia Meloni, intent on increasingly consolidating her relationship with her allies, as she had claimed even before taking office at Palazzo Chigi, siding “‘without any doubts” on the line of military support for Kiev, even before her allies Lega and Forza Italia, then in the government majority supporting Mario Draghi, had done so. But not only that, Meloni sat at the allies’ table with the aim of reorienting the Alliance’s compass southwards: a new NATO posture at “360 degrees” capable both of standing up to Putin on the eastern side and of taking on the threats from North Africa, the question of the Wider Mediterranean, Jihadist terrorism and Wagner’s mercenaries. In part, Italian efforts were rewarded as the 31 members of the pact committed to greater investment in Mediterranean defence and security, as stated in the summit’s final communiqué. A formal and binding commitment that must produce tangible results within a year at the next summit in Washington. It is an important victory that Meloni has won for a country like Italy, which faces the problem of immigration and the worry of its illegal escalation on a daily basis. On this issue, the Prime Minister found backing in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom, not surprisingly, she held a bilateral meeting lasting about an hour on the sidelines of the summit. NATO’s commitment in the Middle East and Mediterranean quadrant is a key passage that crosses the interests of both Rome and Ankara, especially with regard to Libya. In fact, Meloni knows that Erdogan’s ability to intervene and influence the country is crucial to facilitating elections in the North African country, which is tormented by a tug-of-war between the two rival coalitions, that of the Government of National Unity (Gun) of interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba and that of the newly elected Government of National Stability (Gsn). Moreover, Erdogan was also and above all talked about for having given his approval to Stockholm’s entry into the Alliance on the eve of the meeting, after months of obstructionism. Also underlining the importance of the gesture was Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who stated that the completion of Sweden’s membership of NATO was «a historic step that benefits the security of all allies at this critical time: it makes us all stronger and safer». Enlargement and defence become the keywords of the Alliance.
Focusing on Vilnius, Giorgia Meloni therefore tried to leave the internal problems of her majority in Rome, from the judicial cases of Tourism Minister Santanchè, the son of Senate President La Russa and Undersecretary Delmastro, to the justice reform and the delays on the NRRP. On this last point, in particular, the Italian government made official this week its request to the European Commission to be able to modify ten of the 27 projects included in the Plan. The changes, which are necessary to receive the fourth EUR 16 billion tranche, are in some cases minor corrections, while in others real substantial revisions, which are currently being examined by the Commission. Considering also that Italy has not yet received the third tranche in light of some formal objections, the situation appears more delicate than ever. Meloni said she was «optimistic» about the closure of the negotiations for the third tranche and the changes to the fourth, asking the oppositions not to engage in counterproductive alarmism but rather help. But despite the reassurances given in recent weeks, the delays and technical discussions are a cause of great concern for the government, in the knowledge that from September the operational phase of the plan, which requires funding, begins. The money that delays arriving from Europe must be advanced by those who carry out the projects such as the government, regions and municipalities.