Politics and migrants. The stakes are high

The most popular word of the political week was one: migrants. The topic of migratory flows has dominated the political debate across all latitudes. From the Council of Ministers in Rome on Monday, where the government renewed its strategy to combat landings, boost repatriations and fight traffickers, to the UN General Assembly in New York: in front of a global audience, the Italian Prime Minister reiterated this political and humanitarian priority of her government. In her speech, Meloni identified traffickers (not to be confused with smugglers) as the main perpetrators of departures to Europe, thus the primary problem on which not only Italy but the entire international community should focus to reduce arrivals. He described them as «third-millennium slavers», explaining that they sell crossings to Europe «on brochures, as if they were normal travel agencies», without informing migrants of the risks they face or caring about the conditions of the boats placed at their disposal, which are almost always very bad.

According to Meloni, combating traffickers should be a goal that unites all governments and international organisations, including the United Nations: «I am convinced that it is the duty of this organisation to reject all hypocrisy on this issue and to declare a global war, without discounts, on human traffickers». Meloni also made it clear how important it is to «tackle the underlying causes of migration», to make people want to stay in their home countries. The reference is to the so-called “Mattei Plan”, which in the government’s intentions should be a major project to develop and deepen international relations between Italy and African countries.

A political manifesto that also works well in an election campaign that has already begun in view of next year’s European elections, an appointment that will be the first real test of this government’s consensus. Meloni is well aware of this and is attracting the attentions of the entire continent to the issue of migrants, managing to gain media attention and centrality. The images of European Commission President von der Leyen in Lampedusa in this sense will remain emblematic. But Meloni is well aware that in addition to attention, solutions are needed, not least because the number of landings has increased dramatically. But solutions require international, as well as national, convergence, which will be difficult to achieve. The aforementioned Mattei Plan, considered the synthesis of the Italian idea on Mediterranean policies, still has unclear and defined contours. What is clear is that the government has made it a cornerstone of its international action on which it will be scrutinised, by the electorate and its international interlocutors. The stakes, therefore, are very high.

Also in New York was Ukrainian President Zelensky, who was the other big star of the international political week. From the stage of the Glass Palace, he launched a harsh ‘J’accuse‘ against Russia and warned that Moscow is using «food, energy and even children» as weapons, and that what happened to Ukraine can happen to other countries if support for the fight against the invasion is now lacking. Amid warm applause, the Ukrainian President explained that the Ukrainian counter-offensive «is succeeding, especially in the east in the last two weeks. We’re moving forward slowly, but we’re moving forward», indications cautiously confirmed by Western intelligence, hitherto sceptical. Then, the surprise announcement: Ukraine is preparing «a world peace summit» to which it is inviting all world leaders opposed to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine: «In Hiroshima, Copenhagen and Jeddah, there were important discussions on the implementation of a peace plan. We are preparing a world summit. I invite all those who do not tolerate aggression to work together for this summit». On the intentions, everyone agrees. But on the conditions it remains to be seen.