Tunis-Rome-Paris, the axis on which the Meloni government is moving

The political week opened with two different remarkable state visits. The first was the one that saw Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni fly to Tunisia on Tuesday for private talks with Tunisian President Kais Saied. The topic at the centre of the discussion is by now well known: the $2 billion plan that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is supposed to make available to lift the North African state’s finances and avoid default, on the condition that the country commits itself to implementing reforms and providing greater democratic guarantees. Even during his talks with Meloni, Saied repeatedly stated that he did not want to accept the “diktats” imposed by Washington because the Fund’s «old recipes would make the situation explode, threatening peace in Tunisia with consequences that could spread to the entire region». Words that seem to resonate as a threat especially with regard to the possible repercussions on the migration front. A visit to Tunisia, therefore, that has caused debate both on the geopolitical and media fronts. There was no lack of criticism from the centre-left towards the government, accused of supporting «an authoritarian regime» that violates human rights. But Meloni once again seemed to shoot straight and dodge the protests, assuring that the growth of democracy in Tunisia is indispensable, but so is the stabilisation of the country, which is crucial for Italy in the fight against immigration. And it is precisely along these lines that the Prime Minister announced her return to Tunisia on Sunday together with European Commission President von der Leyen and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to open up European cooperation to help the troubled nation.

While Meloni was in Tunis, among criticism and acclamation, President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella flew to France for the inauguration of the exhibition “Naples in Paris” at the Louvre with more than 70 masterpieces from the Capodimonte museum brought into dialogue with the French collection. An artistic and cultural collaboration that seems to foreshadow a rapprochement between the two countries, sealed by an embrace between Mattarella and President Macron, after the recent bilateral tensions.  The executive stressed the relationship of personal «trust and friendship» between the two presidents as well as the «exceptional» ties that unite Italy and France. If the sense of the visit was to reaffirm the centuries-old friendship between Rome and Paris, beyond the disagreements that the different governments may have in the management of current issues, first and foremost immigration, the objective seems to have been achieved to date. Now all that remains is to wait for Meloni’s visit to the Elysée Palace, scheduled before the summer break, to confirm the consolidation of relations and, on that occasion, also to update on the “new world financial pact” to be held in Paris from 22 to 24 June.

All this while the war in Ukraine seems to be escalating even more: in the night between Monday and Tuesday, a powerful explosion destroyed part of the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro river, releasing an enormous mass of water that has been flooding the surrounding territory for days, both in the area still Ukrainian and in the Russian-occupied part, with potentially dramatic consequences. At the moment, it is difficult to precisely estimate the extent of the human and environmental disaster produced by the flooding, but the Ukrainian government’s forecasts indicate around 40,000 displaced persons, 25,000 of whom in the Russian-controlled region. Meanwhile, Moscow and Kiev are blaming each other for what happened, highlighting the adversary’s interest in causing the catastrophe. Despite this, the emergency will certainly not stop the war, on the contrary: the mines prevent efficient rescue operations and the Russian artillery has not stopped for a moment. In a conflict where, in parallel with missiles, even nature is used as a weapon, devastating homes and claiming victims, solidarity does not cross the front line. However, it is possible that the long-awaited Ukrainian counter-offensive, officially underway, may be affected by the flooding as it has to, even if only partially, advance into the currently flooded area.

The war in Ukraine and the positions taken around it have also once again become the focus of internal political debate, this time in relation to the choices of the Democratic Party and, above all, its secretary Elly Schlein. What destabilised the Dems this time were the declarations of the newly elected vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies Paolo Ciani, preferred by Schlein to Piero De Luca, son of the Campania governor. The handover took place this week, not without causing a stir. Ciani has in fact reconfirmed his position against sending arms to Ukraine, which is not in line with that taken by the PD so far and that professed by the secretary herself. On the issue in fact, Ciani stated that «in our people there is this debate. The party can evolve into new positions. One can also change one’s opinions» . Words that, for clear reasons, did not please the reformist area of the PD, which was already upset by Piero De Luca’s move. Although Ciani speaks in the name of his party, which is in fact not the Democratic Party but Demos, what reaches the outside world is a condition of confusion, unevenness and non-alignment in the main party of the centre-left, even on the most delicate issues. Indeed, the underlying feeling is that most of the issues, proposals and reflections within the party are a flywheel for a clash between very different souls and positions. A knot that is perhaps destined to complicate the next national party Dictatorate, convened for next Monday.