Scorecard: What has Giorgia Meloni achieved in her first year as PM?

It’s been a year since Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right party Brothers of Italy, became the country’s first female prime minister, at the head of a coalition government – but what have they achieved?


It’s been 12 months since Giorgia Meloni, a controversial politician who for years had been a vocal member of the opposition within her post-fascist party Brothers of Italy, became the country’s first woman to cover the role of prime minister.

The worst fears raised after last year’s election results have not turned into reality: the country has not turned its back on Ukraine to embrace a more pro-Putin stance or made any moves to leave the European Union. Any references to Brother of Italy’s fascist roots have been down-played, and Meloni has significantly dialled back her own vitriol against immigrants.

But, as much as the fears that followed the establishment of the most hard-right government in Italy since World War II, many of the changes promised by Meloni have also largely failed to materialise.

Here’s Euronews’ scorecard for the Italian premier’s first year in government. Meloni made a total of 25 promises in her government’s programme, which we’ve grouped by topic.

Stopping illegal immigration: Fail

One of Brother of Italy’s electoral promises was to defend “the country’s frontiers” by creating a naval blockade off the coast of North Africa, an idea that has re-emerged in recent months as the country faced a surge in migrant arrivals on its shores.

This promise, clearly, has not been turned into reality – possibly because it’s legally tricky to implement, if not outright illegal.

A naval blockade can only be created unilaterally by a state in cases of legitimate defence when a war or an act of aggression from another country is involved – situations that don’t apply to the current circumstances.

Italy is not at war with either Libya or Tunisia, the countries of origin of most arrivals and with which the Italian government has actually forged agreements to curb migration.

In general, Meloni’s promises to curb migration have largely failed, leading to the premier’s admission that she had hoped to do better than she actually did.

By mid-October, more than 140,000 migrant arrivals had been registered by Italy’s Interior Ministry so far this year, compared to 70,000 in the same period last year.

But that doesn’t mean that Meloni’s government hasn’t tried to keep its electoral promises – including targeting NGOs which “encourage illegal immigration,” as Brothers of Italy wrote in its programme.

Since the autumn of last year, Meloni’s government has restricted the activities of NGOs and rescue ships, and struck a controversial deal with Tunisia’s President Kais Saied to assist the country in stemming migration. It has also made it easier to evict migrants from the country and send them back to “safe countries” like Tunisia.

For Meloni’s critics, human rights and migrant rights activists, that’s enough harm done.

Spending EU funds promised to Italy: In progress

In 2020, the European Union made available a huge fund of €191.5 billion to Italy to get back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic, called the National Recovery and Resilience Plan or PNRR.

Meloni promised to spend this huge sum without delays and without any waste of money on projects aimed at reforming and updating Italy’s infrastructure. But in April her government was still struggling to find ways to spend the EU funds due to Italy’s elephantine bureaucracy and delays at local levels.

While Meloni’s government has indeed started spending some of the EU funds already transferred, inefficiencies at every level of the process made it so that a big slice of the PNRR was still being withheld by the EU this summer.

In late July, Meloni presented a new plan to Brussels to spend the promised money – but the premier is facing an uphill battle before she can spend the entire €191.5 billion promised.

Supporting Italian families and encouraging new births: Pass/In progress

This was the very first point in Meloni’s party’s programme: to increase Italy’s birth rate and support couples wishing to build a family. By this, of course, Meloni meant the traditional, heteronormative family.


The party had promised up to €300 a month for every family during the first year of a child’s birth; and up to €260 between the second year and the child’s 18th birthday.

This is something that the Meloni government is still partially working on, having already introduced cheques for families with children but also planning new policies in this direction. In its latest budgetary plan, the government has included one billion euros to be assigned to projects supporting new births in Italy.

New measures include a cheque for families having a third child, fringe benefits up to €2,000 for families with kids, an extra month of parental leave paid at 60% of a worker’s salary and tax deductions for companies hiring new mothers.

“She’s introduced tax benefits and checks for families proportionally to the number of children that they have,” Marianna Griffini, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University London and an expert in Italian politics, told Euronews.

“Meloni even participated in Hungary’s summit on demography. She met with Viktor Orban and she was acclaimed as an ideologue by the Hungarian leader, so she’s definitely doubling down on the importance of the traditional family.”


Other, less traditional types of families have on the other hand been punished by the Meloni government, with surrogacy having been made illegal for Italians even outside of the country. During the past year, queer parents across the country have seen their names removed from their children’s certificate, as Italy passed a law saying that only the biological parent of a child can appear on it.

Promoting “Made in Italy,” boosting Italian pride, and relaunching tourism: Pass

Meloni’s government definitely kept its promise to defend the concept of “Made in Italy” and try to boost Italian pride, though that doesn’t mean these efforts received international approval.

Earlier this year, the government pushed forward a controversial measure defending the Italian language and identity against the contamination of English words. The legal initiative would punish the use of foreign words in official communication with fines between €5,000 and €100,000.

“They did very well on this, I think,” said Professor Griffini laughing. “They tried to interfere with linguistic choices, and then they invested in the cultural sector with that ‘fabulous’ project boosting tourism, Open to Meraviglia.”

The project was largely mocked online for putting Botticelli’s Venus in the clothes of a 21st-century influencer as well as for using footage of Slovenia to advertise tourism in Italy. The ad campaign was dead in the water just a few months after launching, sparking an investigation in Italy about potential abuses of public money.


Changing Italy’s constitution for the direct election of the country’s president: Fail

One of the promises of Meloni’s party was to fight political instability in Italy by changing the country’s constitution and giving more powers to the president – making Italian politics look a lot more like French politics. With the constitutional reform suggested by Meloni, the Italian president would be elected directly, unlike now, and be a powerful head of state rather than a largely symbolic figure.

Meloni floated this idea earlier this year, but the initiative was strongly opposed by the centre-left opposition, which fears having too much power in a single person.

“They haven’t done much on this, they haven’t done anything on it, actually,” Griffini said. It’s unlikely that Meloni will make more progress on this issue in the coming months and years as opposition is unlikely to dwindle.

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‘Ghost parents’: Same-sex couples in Italy are losing their rights

Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has demanded local councils only list biological parents on birth certificates, flinging hundreds of same-sex couples into a legal morass.

Last year, Denise Rinehart and Giulia Garofalo Geymonat’s six-year-old son was rushed from his school in Bologna, Italy to a nearby hospital with a life-threatening allergic reaction. In a panic, the two mothers scrambled to the emergency services to find their son. He had gone into anaphylactic shock. As healthcare personnel treated him, one nurse turned to Geymonat and asked: “Who are you?” The question fell on her like a tonne of bricks.

Geymonat is not officially registered as her son’s parent on his birth certificate. In the eyes of the law, his only official parent is her wife, Rinehart. “[The nurse] had the power to kick me out,” Geymonat says. “It was up to her to decide whether I would be by my child’s side in a life-threatening situation. It’s all in the hands of other individuals.”

Because Rinehart was the one to carry their eldest son to term, when he was born in Pisa in 2016, she was the only one registered on his birth certificate. Geymonat, despite being his mother from the moment he was born, is not officially recognised as such because she is not his biological mother.

‘Ghost parent’

After same-sex civil unions were legalised in Italy in 2016, and in the absence of any clear legislation on parental rights for same-sex couples, a handful of city councils across the country started listing parents of the same gender on their children’s birth certificate. Unfortunately for Geymonat and Rinehart, the city of Pisa did not.

For seven years now, the couple have been swallowed up in a legal morass to grant Geymonat parental recognition. After their first son was born, the council of Pisa only registered Rinehart as a parent on his birth certificate. For Geymonat to be recognised as his parent as well, the couple had two choices: appeal the council’s decision and try to get full parental recognition or attempt the adoption route. Knowing the adoption process would be intrusive and time-consuming, they went for the first option. They appealed Pisa’s decision and their case has been in and out of various courts ever since. It was most recently heard in Florence’s court of appeals, which ruled in favour of their argument that Geymonat be on her son’s birth certificate, and will now be dealt with in Italy’s highest court on October 6.

Throughout that time and until today, Geymonat has been what she calls a “ghost parent” to their eldest son.

But in recent months, Italy’s right-wing government has been cracking down on city councils to stop listing same-sex parents on birth certificates. Led by the hardline traditionalist Meloni, the ministry of interior issued a directive in January 2023 instructing Italian mayors to stop automatically registering the births of children conceived or born abroad through assisted reproductive methods. It cited a case from December 2022, in which Italy’s top court ruled that a child of a gay couple who was conceived through surrogacy abroad shouldn’t have their birth certificate automatically transcribed in Italy.

Though the directive primarily concerned surrogacy, which is banned in Italy and now even a crime for those seeking surrogacy abroad, its interpretation by local councils has disproportionally affected LGBTQ families – including those who resort to other reproductive methods.

Single women and same-sex couples do not have access to assisted reproduction treatments in Italy.

Read more‘Mother, Italian, Christian’: Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s far-right leader on the cusp of power

By April, the Milan prefecture broadened its interpretation of the directive to include same-sex couples who had children abroad through IVF or artificial insemination. Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, who had previously allowed the automatic transcription of birth certificates, would no longer be able to do so. He confirmed he would stop the practice moving forward, but chose not to amend the birth certificates he had previously approved.

In the northeastern city of Padua in June, the state prosecutor took things even further and opened a legal case demanding that the 33 birth certificates issued to the children of lesbian couples since 2017 be changed to remove the name of the non-biological mother. A court will rule on the request later this year.

The decision caused outrage. Centre-left MP Alessandro Zan, who has pushed for LGBTQ rights in Italy for years, called it a “cruel, inhumane decision”.

“These children are being orphaned by decree,” he said.

A close call

Alice Bruni, Bróna Kelly and their son Zeno are one of the 33 families involved in the Padua case. In July, just four months after the birth of their son, Bruni and Kelly received a letter from the state prosecutor summoning them to a court appearance in November. Bruni was fuming with anger. “It makes you wonder what this is all about. We are citizens, we pay our taxes like everyone else … we should have the same rights as everyone else,” she says. “It’s pure discrimination.”

After Zeno was conceived through IVF at a clinic in Greece and Bruni became pregnant, she contacted the Padua municipality to ensure they could register both names on their son’s birth certificate. She was reassured by the administrative office that this would be no problem, but that she should “call back when the baby is almost there” to make sure nothing had changed.

When news of the directive sent out by Meloni’s government came out, Bruni began to panic. But they were lucky. Zeno was born in March, three months before Padua’s state prosecutor opened the case against lesbian parents.

“I think we were the last couple to be registered before the case opened,” says Bruni.

While the case is ongoing, the couple have been told their son’s birth certificate is valid. To limit any risk of Kelly losing her parental rights as Zeno’s non-biological mother, they have started the process of getting him an Irish passport, since Kelly is from Ireland. Their lawyer has assured them that, if both parents are registered on an official document from another European state, the Italian government must accept the same.

“That’s made us feel a little better,” says Bruni. “But it doesn’t solve the problem. We care a lot about all the other families, and it’s a matter of principle.”

‘It’s never done until it’s done’

The consequences of restricting the parental rights of same-sex couples are dire, something Geymonat and Rinehart know all too well. Stripped of her parenting rights, Geymonat avoids taking her eldest son to doctor’s appointments and never crosses borders without her wife. She cannot even pick him up from school without a written permission from Rinehart. “Even within the country, we avoid being on our own,” the couple says.

Behind the bureaucratic difficulties families face are also emotional strains. The years the couple have spent fighting to get Geymonat parental recognition put a financial burden on the household. “We just get the feeling we have to pay for our rights. And putting down the money is not a guarantee that we will,” says Rinehart. To cover legal fees like paying a lawyer and getting documents notarised, the couple created two crowdfunding campaigns and are now opening a third for what they hope will be the last step towards parental recognition.

When the couple have tried explaining the situation to their eldest, they are faced with utter incomprehension. “His reaction was, ‘To say that you are not my mum is like saying a light isn’t a light, or that this chair isn’t a chair!’,” Rinehart says, laughing with Geymonat at their son’s poeticism.

In 2021, five years after the birth of their first son, the couple moved to Bologna where Geymonat gave birth to their second child. “We knew that in Bologna, we would both be registered as his parents on his birth certificate,” says Rinehart. “But it’s never done until it’s done … You just never know if things can change.”

For now, the mayor of Bologna has interpreted the government notice more loosely. But at any moment, the Italian state can take the mayor to court and override his decision. “Municipalities act as organs of the ministry of the interior, so everything will boil down to the will of the government,” explains Vincenzo Miri, president of Rete Lenford, an association that provides legal help for LGBTQ people.

A family policy … for heterosexual families?

Tracing its roots to political factions steeped in post-war neofascism and Catholic conservatism, Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party has long been hostile to LGBTQ equality, especially in the realm of domestic life. Although Meloni has tried to package some extremist views into progressive trappings, like arguing that surrogacy is anti-feminist as it exploits women’s bodies, her brand of conservatism under the slogan “God, homeland and family” clearly excludes same-sex families.

Since taking power in October 2022, Meloni has vowed to rail against what she calls the “LGBT lobby” and has repeatedly reiterated her view that children should only be raised by heterosexual parents.

“Under [former PM] Draghi, the government had stopped opposing automatic transcription of birth certificates,” says Miri. “But now Meloni has decided to resume challenging these registrations.”

In defence of the decisions taken by Meloni’s government in the past months, Minister for the Family Eugenia Roccella told Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra: “In Italy, one becomes a parent in only two ways – either by biological relationship or by adoption,” and urged same-sex parents to follow the adoption procedure.

But in Italy, adopting the child of a same-sex partner is extremely difficult. Non-biological parents can obtain parenting rights through the special stepchild adoption procedure, but it takes years, can cost thousands of euros, involves countless court hearings and involves invasive interviews by social services.

“Couples are told [by lawyers] not to start the adoption procedure until the child is older, since social workers have to verify the emotional relationship between the child and non-biological parent,” Miri says, to ensure there is no abuse or mistreatment and that the person is fit to be a parent. “In those years, anything can happen. Either parent could die, they could split up, many situations could put the child in an extremely vulnerable position,” he says.

That’s why for Rinehart and Geymonat, adoption was never on the table. They preferred trying to get Geymonat recognised as a legal parent.

Rete Lenford and another LGBTQ organisation, Famiglie Arcobaleno, are representing hundreds of cases like Rinehart and Geymonat’s in court.

“I don’t understand why the government has to impose a whole judicial rigmarole on a family just because a mother or father wants to assume their duties as a parent,” Miri says. “It’s not like they are appealing to claim their rights as activists. They are saying they want to protect their child and take on parental obligations. They just want their child to be part of their family.”

For now, the hundreds of families who have been plunged into a legal limbo have no choice but to go to court, or risk becoming “ghost parents” like Geymonat.

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Does making a deal with Tunisia’s Saied mean Europe can be extorted?

By Tarek Megerisi, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR

During their most recent visit to Tunis, European leaders just threw away the continent’s best chance of living up to its much-professed values and tackling the forces that actually drive Tunisian migration, Tarek Megerisi writes.

Tunisia is suffering. A collapsing economy has caused shortages of basic foods and medicines for over a year now, while inflation has rendered any protein a rare delicacy.

Cities are left without water during the evenings as local agriculture is devastated. And it’s not just the quality of life which is oppressive.

Politicians, judges, journalists, and activists are all being arrested in droves for the crime of standing up to their authoritarian President Kais Saied, who keeps fiddling as his country burns.

After two years of nonchalance, Europe, at last, has been roused into action.

Last week, a coalition led by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and including Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and Dutch PM Mark Rutte travelled to Tunis.

Their timing was almost cinematic, coming shortly after the Tunisian central bank announced it could only afford 91 more days of imports and the country’s credit rating was downgraded yet again.

But the European leaders weren’t coming to help Tunisia: they were desperately trying to stop Tunisian migrants.

And in their panic, they’ve thrown away Europe’s and Tunisia’s best chance to reform its political economy and bring migration under control.

Fears of supercharged migration made European leaders make the wrong call

Emigration out of the North African country has been rising exponentially over the past two years, as young Tunisians progressively lost hope in their country and their capacity to amend the two issues they feel the most passionately about: the lack of economic opportunity and a security service that brutalises rather than protects them.

Europe’s fear is that migration will be supercharged if Tunisia defaults on its crushing loan repayments or runs out of the foreign currency needed for food, fuel and medicinal imports.

What’s even worse is that this crisis is completely unnecessary and could have been avoided altogether.

An IMF cash injection was agreed with Saied’s government last December. But, the populist and paranoid president keeps refusing to sign off on it, repackaging the unpopularity of cutting subsidies to the public sector as a violation of Tunisian sovereignty.

However, he has failed to articulate any plan of his own beyond whispers of an Argentina-style voluntary default.

A golden opportunity wasted

Then, Meloni’s “Team Europe” landed in Tunis under the pretence of trying to get this IMF deal over the line.

Behind that façade, they hashed out a deal to essentially keep Saied afloat so long as his navy dealt with any migrant boats found on their way to Europe.

It’s a story that the region and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s allies will recite the next time Europeans invoke their values to marshal support for Ukraine.

The non-European Mediterranean has witnessed a reaffirmation of European weakness.

This openness to extortion is something other strongmen like Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have and will continue to routinely exploit whenever they need a cash injection.

The pressure on all to avoid Tunisia’s economic apocalypse could have been used to amend the IMF deal and include reforms long-demanded by the Tunisians focused on turning the private sector into an engine of wealth creation.

This would’ve given the populist president the optics needed to sign off on the deal and given Tunisians a reason to stay.

But Europe hasn’t just squandered a golden opportunity to reform Tunisia’s economy.

They’ve casually discarded their one tool to protect the country’s democracy and reverse President Saied’s destabilising tyranny: their leverage over Tunisia’s security services.

A small act of accountability would have gone a long way

Saied has always been a typical strongman who, despite first being a constitutional law professor and then writing the new country’s constitution himself, consistently operated outside Tunisian law to achieve authoritarian goals, from freezing out the parliament in 2021 to his current violent arrest campaign.

He has always been wholly reliant on Tunisian security services to support his diktats, from parking their tanks outside parliament to putting political prisoners on trial in front of military courts.

These same security services receive considerable funding from Europe and the USA and privileges including equipment, training programmes, easy travel for their families to Europe, and the prestige of being a major non-NATO ally.

These privileges, which Tunisia’s senior military class are extremely fond of, could’ve been used as leverage to simply demand that they follow Tunisian law if they are to remain part of the liberal world order’s security establishment.

It’s a small act of accountability that could have had a monumental effect in restoring the political opposition, media scrutiny, and rule of law — all parts of a democratic society that Saied has shown to be against — and that could have been the vehicle for change.

Not only has Europe discarded this tool. Even worse: its leaders gave all their power in this relationship to Tunisia’s security structures instead by begging them to become Europe’s border force.

The forces that drive Tunisian migration could have been tackled differently

At the end of Team Europe’s trip, von der Leyen’s unedited message is that Saied and his forces are poised to receive just over €1 billion of European taxpayer money — meaning that Europe will continue to work in Saied’s favour to weaken IMF conditionality by simply covering Tunisia’s debts.

There will be no economic reforms to enable promised trade, no media to report that promised green investments will never come, and no political opposition to scrutinise the cooperation on curbing migration.

Saied’s security services’ salaries and privileges will be ring-fenced. They will receive state-of-the-art European equipment to help them oppress their population.

As a result, young Tunisians will be even more desperate to migrate.

The continent’s leaders just threw away Europe’s best chance of living up to its much-professed values and tackling the forces that actually drive Tunisian migration.

Instead, they committed to paying a billion euros solely to advertise to the wider region that they’re open for extortion.

As Meloni, Rutte, and von der Leyen patted each other on the back on the flight home, the irony that they’ve committed Europe to further years of migration anxiety will be lost on them —  just as the rights of Tunisians and the value of democracy was lost on them during their day trip to Tunis.

Tarek Megerisi is a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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NATO peacekeepers injured in clashes with ethnic Serb protesters in Kosovo

Over 30 peacekeepers deployed in a NATO-led mission in Kosovo were injured Monday in clashes with Serb protesters who demanded the removal of recently elected ethnic Albanian mayors, as tensions flare in the Balkan nation.

The KFOR mission said it had faced “unprovoked attacks” while countering a hostile crowd, after demonstrators clashed with police and tried to force their way into a government building in the northern town of Zvecan.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said 52 Serbs were hurt, three seriously, while one was “wounded with two gunshots by (ethnic) Albanian special forces”.

Hungary‘s defence minister said on Facebook that “more than 20 Hungarian soldiers” were among the wounded, with seven in a serious but stable condition.

Italy‘s foreign minister said three of its soldiers were seriously wounded, and the country’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni joined NATO in calling for “all parties to take a step back to lower tensions”.

Kosovo‘s Serbs had boycotted last month’s elections in northern towns, which allowed ethnic Albanians to take control of local councils despite a minuscule turnout of under 3.5 percent of voters.

Kosovan Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s government officially installed the mayors last week, defying calls to ease the tensions by the European Union and the United States, which have both championed the territory’s 2008 independence from Serbia.

Many Serbs are demanding the withdrawal of Kosovo police forces — whose presence in northern Kosovo has long sparked resistance — as well as the ethnic Albanian mayors they do not consider their true representatives.

Fractures and burns

Early Monday, groups of Serbs clashed with Kosovo police in front of the municipal building in Serb-majority Zvecan and tried to enter, after which law enforcers responded by firing tear gas, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.kf

NATO-led peacekeepers in the KFOR mission at first tried to separate protesters from the police, but later started to disperse the crowd using shields and batons, an AFP journalist saw.

Several protesters responded by hurling rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers, but were quickly repelled a few hundred meters away from the Zvecan municipal building.

“While countering the most active fringes of the crowd, several soldiers of the Italian and Hungarian KFOR contingent were the subject of unprovoked attacks and sustained trauma wounds with fractures and burns due to the explosion of incendiary devices,” KFOR said in a statement.

Eleven Italian soldiers were injured with “three in a serious condition”, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said.

“We will not tolerate further attacks against KFOR,” said Meloni. “It is essential to avoid further unilateral actions by the Kosovo authorities and for all parties to take a step back to lower tensions”.

NATO strongly condemned the “unprovoked” attacks against KFOR troops, adding that such actions were “totally unacceptable”.

“Violence must stop immediately. We call on all sides to refrain from actions that further inflame tensions, and to engage in dialogue,” NATO said in a statement.

The Commander of the KFOR Mission, Division General Angelo Michele Ristuccia, slammed the “unacceptable” attacks and underlined that KFOR will “continue to fulfil its mandate impartially”.

Kosovo police said “organised” demonstrators rallied in northern Kosovo towns, home to many ethnic Serbs who reject Kosovo’s independence from Serbia.

“The protesters, using violence and throwing tear gas, tried to cross the security cordons and make a forced entry into the municipality facility” in Zvecan, Kosovo police said in a statement.

“Police were forced to use legal means, such as (pepper) spray, to stop the protesters and bring the situation under control.”

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and Belgrade and its key allies Russia and China have refused to recognise it, effectively preventing Kosovo from having a seat at the United Nations.

Serbs in Kosovo remained largely loyal to Belgrade, especially in the north, where they make up a majority and reject every move by Pristina to consolidate its control over the region.

International concern

KFOR said it had bolstered its presence in northern Kosovo following the latest developments and urged Belgrade and Pristina to engage in an EU-led dialogue to reduce tensions.

“We call on all sides to refrain from actions that could inflame tensions or cause escalation,” KFOR said in a statement.

Police had already used tear gas Friday to disperse Serbs in northern Kosovo who protested the installation of the mayors.

Belgrade responded by placing its army on high alert and ordered forces towards the Serbian border with Kosovo.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking on a visit to Kenya, said that “Serbs are fighting for their rights in northern Kosovo”.

“A big explosion is looming in the heart of Europe, where NATO in 1999 carried out an aggression against Yugoslavia,” Lavrov said, referring to the 1999 NATO intervention against Belgrade that effectively ended the war between Serb forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas.

The US ambassador and European Union envoy have summoned the ethnic Albanian mayors to a meeting in Pristina in a bid to ease tensions.

Two media teams from Pristina reported that protesters had slashed their tyres and spray-painted their vehicles, while a local journalists’ association called on law enforcers to provide a safe working environment for the media.

After his first-round victory at the French Open on Monday, Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic penned the message “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence” on a television camera.

“Kosovo is our cradle, our stronghold, centre of the most important things for our country,” Djokovic told reporters.

“I am against war, violence and conflict of any kind and I have always publicly shown that. Of course I have sympathy for all people but what is happening with Kosovo is a precedent in international law.”


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‘Weapon of mass distraction’: What’s up with Italy’s oddball policies?

First came a controversial crackdown on rave parties. Then, a ban on the much-debated ChatGPT chatbot, the first of its kind across the world, followed by a ban on synthetic meat. Finally, a plan to issue hefty fines for using English words in official communications — which many people initially thought was an April Fool’s joke, but turned out to be real.

After Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government pushed forward a series of unlikely policies in the past few months, some people have been left scratching their heads wondering: what’s really going on with Italy’s leadership, and these oddball policies?

Francesco Strazzari, professor in International Relations at the Pisa-based Scuola Universitaria Superiore Sant’Anna, told Euronews that the recent wave of improbable legislation passed by Meloni’s government is “a weapon of mass distraction.”

As Italy faces serious issues which are currently shared with many European countries, like a lingering energy and cost-of-living crisis and a growing flow of migration to its southern shores, these somewhat petty legislative initiatives have the ability to spark endless debates on social media and among the Italian public – even if only to ridicule the government.

“Every time Meloni’s government is in a difficult moment, it comes up with controversial policies which have the power of deflecting attention from its poor performance and its disastrous policies,” Strazzari said.

What bigger issues hide behind these “shallow policies”?

When the Italian government passed a law banning illegal rave parties last November, it did so despite the fact there was no urgency for such a law, Strazzari told Euronews, as the issue didn’t pose an immediate challenge to the country and could have been solved in due time.

“But there was a strong attempt to inflate the ban, in terms of public attention, in the face of looming danger — a new law surrounding the search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean, around which there were already strong arguments,” Strazzari said.

Shortly after the rave ban, Meloni’s government passed a law forbidding NGOs’ search and rescue ships from embarking on more than one operation at a time and forcing them to disembark in the harbours indicated by authorities, which Strazzari said they’re usually “very remote.”

This decree-law, which significantly limits the operation capacity of NGOs’ search and rescue ships, has already caused tense situations in the Mediterranean between NGOs and Italian authorities.

The most recent policies surrounding ChatGPT, synthetic meat, and the use of English and foreign words in official communications came at a time when a very serious debate around the country’s prison system and sentences is unfolding in Italy, rekindled by inmate Alfredo Cospito’s hunger strike.

According to Strazzari, the harsh punishment imposed on Cospito, an Italian anarchist serving a strict prison regime usually reserved for mafia bosses, is “very controversial in terms of international norms, because in rule-of-law countries the severity of a sentence has to be measured in terms of time length, not imprisonment conditions.”

But instead of addressing complex, long-term challenges like the ones posed by Cospito’s hunger strike or migrant arrivals on the Italian shores, Meloni’s government has focused its legislative efforts on a series of policies “in the name of cultural nationalism, […] an idea of the nation as something that is not negotiable, that exists in purity in some idyllic past, against contamination from migrants, anarchists, and the food industry,” said Strazzari.

The debate around these nationalist policies once again works as a distraction from much more consequential — and controversial — new laws that Meloni’s government is trying to pass — like a bill criminalising surrogacy done abroad.

Last month, the Italian parliament started discussing a controversial law which would extend Italy’s long-standing surrogacy ban on couples travelling abroad for the procedure to countries like the US, Canada, and India. Under the proposed law, sponsored by Brothers of Italy and the League, those found seeking a surrogate mother for their babies abroad could be imprisoned for a time between three months and two years or face fines between 600,000 and 1 million euros.

For same-sex couples trying to have a baby through surrogacy, the law would be extremely damaging.

A sovereign push that’s likely to put Italy against the European Union

The recent controversial policies introduced by Meloni’s government are not only a game of smoke and mirrors: these legislative efforts are also “well in line with the party’s ideology,” Marianna Griffini, lecturer in the Department of European and International Studies at King’s College London, told Euronews.

“Meloni’s party is one pushing for Italy’s sovereignty, and these policies are sending the message: ‘Do not interfere with our domestic affairs,’ even if it’s only about cultural affairs, cultural sovereignty,” she said. The recipient of this message? The EU.

Italy’s ban on synthetic meat, Griffini said, can be seen as a way for Italy to reclaim sovereignty over the EU for matters related to its food, after the EU had already given the green light to lab-grown meat in the bloc.

Griffini isn’t the only one to see it this way. For Strazzari, Meloni’s government’s “ridiculous” policies “mobilising shallow calls to national identity and national rhetoric” all lead in the direction of a sovereign push whose ultimate goal is to wriggle out of the European Union’s control — following the footsteps of Poland and Hungary.

“There’s a clear way in which Meloni is trying to benefit from the shifting of the very centre of European politics towards the East with the war in Ukraine […], a shift which has given more gravity to Poland and Hungary,” Strazzari said. “[These countries] are second to no one when it comes to social conservatism and nationalism — especially Poland, with its stress on the traditional family and Catholicism.”

Because of its anti-LGBT policies, Poland has entered in contrast with the EU over the question of the primacy of national law over EU law — an issue that has been raised by Meloni before she even came into power last year.

In 2018, when Meloni was still in the opposition, the far-right politician was the first signatory of a legislative proposal which asked for modifying two articles of the Italian constitution which state that Italy recognises the primacy of European law over national law. “That proposal is still there,” Strazzari said. “It hasn’t been discussed but it hasn’t been withdrawn either — it’s kind of frozen there.”

According to Strazzari, there’s now “an attempt to find congruence” in Italy with Poland and Hungary in terms of introducing nationalist policies which have the potential to go against the EU’s recognised fundamental rights. The proposed surrogacy ban is an example of this initiative.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, who served as president of the European Parliament from 2017 and 2019, recently commented on the European Parliament’s criticism of Meloni’s government for the introduction of a law that could ban surrogacy for Italians travelling abroad to have the procedure saying  that “Italy’s regulations are made in Italy, not in Brussels.”

“It’s quite a stunning declaration on the part of someone who was the head of the European Parliament and knows pretty well what are the prerogatives of the EU Parliament, which is elected by Italians, among others. We delegate parts of our sovereignty to that Parliament,” Strazzari said. “But this statement was rather blunt in rejecting criticism coming from the Parliament. […] This raises alert from a European point of view.”

But Griffini sees Meloni’s government’s sovereign efforts simply as “symbolic battles” rather than a real attempt to rebel against the EU. “There is too much at stake,” Griffini said. “There are the famous national recovery and resilience plan’s funds at stake, so I don’t think that the relationship with the EU will come to the point of outward hostility.”

Italy’s recovery plan, which followed the unprecedented crisis of the pandemic, consists of 132 investments and 58 reforms and is supported by €68.9 billion in grants and €122.6 billion in loans to the country.

“Italy still needs this money,” Griffini said.

“During her campaign, Meloni turned down her Euro-scepticism, and a glaring example of this is that her first state visit was to the EU, when she met Ursula von der Leyen. It’s unlikely that she will fully rebel against the EU. These policies seem more symbolic than anything.”

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Why Elly Schlein is freaking out Italy’s ‘soft’ socialists

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Right-wing hardliners could not dream of an easier target than Elly Schlein, the new leader of Italy’s center-left Democratic Party (PD).

A global citizen with a female partner and an upper-middle-class upbringing, the youngest and first female leader of Italy’s most-established progressive party has sparked the ire of the country’s conservatives.

“CommunistElly,” the right-wing newspaper Il Tempo dubbed her after the leadership contest was decided on Sunday. Schlein defeated the favorite Stefano Bonaccini with 53.8 percent to 46.2 percent of the vote.

Far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s allies have been relishing the polarization around Schlein — the two political leaders, though both female, stand for very different values.

“She promised to prioritize the poor, public education and workers,” right-wing commentator Italo Bocchino said in attacking Schlein. “But unlike Meloni, she has never known the poor in her life,” he continued, pointing out how she attended a private school “for rich people” in Switzerland. Nor can Schlein know workers “as she’s never worked in her life,” he ranted.

Schlein’s surprise win has not only fired up her opponents, but also unsettled many in her own party. Fellow social democrats are spooked that Schlein could transform the PD from the broad progressive church it’s historically been into a much more radical sect.

There’s also concern about whether she’ll stand by the party’s support for sending lethal weapons to Ukraine given her self-described pacifist views.

Most skeptics are clinging on — for now — although a few have already jumped ship.

“The PD is over,” declared David Allegranti, a journalist for the Florence daily La Nazione. The expert on the Italian center-left argues that Schlein and many of her allies hail from leftist splinter groups and were not members of the PD until barely a few months ago — discrediting them in their critics’ eyes.

Ex-Cabinet minister Giuseppe Fioroni, among the founding members of the PD, told POLITICO: “Her project has nothing to do with my history and my political culture.” Having foreseen the outcome, Fioroni left the party one day before Schlein’s victory was announced. “My PD is no longer there, this is another party — it no longer belongs to the center left, but to the hard left,” he said.

As a youth leader in 2013, Schlein became the figurehead of Occupy PD, a protest movement set up by disaffected progressives angered over 101 center-left parliamentarians who voted against their own social democrat grandee Romano Prodi’s bid to become the president of Italy.

“With Elly Schlein, the PD has occupied itself,” quipped Allegranti.

Ex-Cabinet minister and PD founding member Giuseppe Fioroni left the party one day before Schlein’s victory, saying that the party “no longer belongs to the center left, but to the hard left” | Claudio Peri/EPA

The young radical

The daughter of a Swiss-based political scientist couple (one Italian and one American), Schlein was raised in Lugano, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, and spent her teens writing film reviews — her dream at the time was to become a film director — as well as playing the board game “Trivial Pursuit” and the cult 90s video game “The Secret of Monkey Island.”

Her first stint in politics came in 2008, when she cut her teeth working as a volunteer for Barack Obama’s two U.S. presidential election campaigns — heading to Chicago to do so.

“Here, I understood that you don’t need to ask for votes, but mobilize people with ideas,” she recalled to La Repubblica. A decade on, the lesson proved useful for her own leadership campaign.

In a first for the PD’s leadership contests, Schlein won the open ballot after losing by a wide margin in the caucus with party members the week before, demonstrating her capacity to win over voters.

The newly elected leader gained the upper hand over Bonaccini in big cities such as Milan, Turin and Naples, as well as performing well almost everywhere north of Rome — but lost in most southern regions, according to pollster YouTrend.

“There was a wave of support that brought along different kinds of voters, who were united by a strong desire for change,” said Lorenzo Pregliasco, the founder of YouTrend.

However, Pregliasco played down reports of a “youthquake,” and described the leadership campaign as “boring, dull and largely ignored by public opinion.”

End of the party, or a new beginning?

While there are no exact figures on voter turnout available, Italian media reports that around 1.2 million people cast their ballots — which would mark the lowest figures since PD party primaries were first held in 2007.

After becoming a member of the European Parliament with the Socialists & Democrats group in 2014 at the age of 28, Schlein took the unexpected decision to abandon the PD a year later, accusing then-prime minister and PD party leader Matteo Renzi of lurching to the right.

The decision turned out to be prophetic, as Renzi suffered a number of electoral defeats that snowballed into his resignation as prime minister in 2016, and as party leader in 2018.

Pippo Civati, a former parliamentarian and longtime ally of Schlein who is now out of politics, recalled of Schlein in 2015: “We left at the same time because he [Renzi] was making one mess after another.”

Speaking to POLITICO, Civati warned that the newly elected leader could end up having her hands tied by party bigwigs who backed the popular politician without necessarily having any genuine commitment to her radical ideas.

Pundits point out that the conflict in Ukraine could be the trickiest issue for Schlein, whose distant ancestors hail from a village close to modern-day Lviv. There are question marks over whether she will carry forward her predecessor Enrico Letta’s all-out support for the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine.

A U-turn by Schlein on support for Ukraine would leave Meloni as the only national party leader in favor of sending arms to the besieged country, fueling concerns among Western allies who see Italy as a weak link.

“A change of line over Ukraine could be the trigger for many centrists to leave the PD,” Allegranti said.

But Civati played down rumors of an about-face, arguing that Schlein is unlikely to oppose the sending of arms to Ukraine.

“We support Ukraine’s right to defend itself, through every form of assistance,” said Schlein in a recent interview with broadcaster La7. “But as a pacifist, I don’t think that weapons alone will end the war.”

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Giorgia Meloni’s first 100 days in office: What has Italy’s PM done?

Giorgia Meloni was voted into office last October to the sound of alarm bells ringing across Europe.

As a far-right leader with a bone to pick with the EU, her landslide election perturbed political commentators, who branded her with a range of incendiary epithets: “Eurosceptic”, “radical”, “demagogic”, even Europe’s “most dangerous woman”.

But now that Meloni marks her first 100 days as prime minister, how has her premiership measured up to such forecasts?

Has she followed through on her election campaign mantra that “playtime is over” for Brussels, or has she opted for a meeker stance to ingratiate herself with Italy’s European allies?

Here is a list of some of Giorgia Meloni’s main steps since being elected:

Cracking down on rave parties

Few would have guessed Meloni’s “playtime is over” motto would end up taking such a literal turn, but it seems her intent to halt the fun and games was no joke — indeed, one of her first decisions as PM was to pass an “anti-rave” decree cracking down on unauthorised mass parties.

Meloni and her government defended the decision — which sees organisers of such gatherings facing hefty fines and up to six years in prison — on the grounds that it was necessary measure to curb partygoers’ antics and align Italy’s rules to its European peers.

“We have shown that the state won’t turn a blind eye and fail to act when faced with law-breaking,” she said at a news conference.

Critics, however, deemed the move a “distraction” from more pressing political problems and feared it could limit students’ freedom to protest.

Migrant feud with France

Shortly after taking office, Meloni found herself in hot waters after sparking a spat with France over a migrant rescue vessel.

In November, SOS Méditeranée’s Ocean Viking ship — which carried over 200 migrants — was rejected by Italy and subsequently forced to dock at the French port town of Toulon, provoking France’s ire.

It comes as little surprise that the PM’s first squabble would end up involving Italy’s westerly neighbour, given her own longstanding animosity towards French President Emmanuel Macron and his migration policy.

In a talk show in 2019, Meloni had decried France’s “exploitative” economic relationship with former colonies such as Burkina Faso, arguing that the solution to Africa’s problems was not “moving Africans to Europe”, but to “liberate Africa from certain Europeans.”

The premier has used her criticism of French imperialist activities to justify her anti-migration stance — indeed, prior to her election, she proposed a naval blockade to clamp down on migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

While such loaded language may have subsided as of late, Meloni’s iron-fisted rhetoric on migration has certainly not softened. Indeed, her latest decree directly targets and curbs non-governmental organisations’ lifesaving activities at sea.

But for all the grandstanding and bold predictions, the reality on the ground would point to her promises having fallen flat.

Statistics released by the interior ministry prove migrant boat arrivals have not only failed to slow down, but have grown dramatically since Meloni took office. The first ten days of the new year alone registered an 880% increase from 2022.

An EU-friendly budget

For weeks, Brussels officials waited with bated breath as Meloni’s cabinet deliberated its budget plan for 2023.

But concerns were alleviated when it was announced that the new government’s plans for Italy’s debt-ridden economy would be considerably closer to the EU line than some had expected.

The budget law — approved by parliament in record time — includes proposals such as €21 million tax breaks to relieve businesses from the burdens of the energy crisis, as well as fiscal incentives and a lower retirement age.

While some of the plan’s measures remained controversial — especially a higher cap on cash payments — it displayed a greater of restraint than what had been touted by Meloni’s right-wing bloc on the campaign trail.

Meloni herself subsequently embarked on a charm offensive with Brussels, courting EU President Ursula von der Leyen in her first foreign trip, a move analysts attribute to Italy’s dire need to receive its €190 billion EU post-COVID recovery funds — that itself entails a set of reforms.

“It would have been unthinkable for Meloni to risk missing out on this money. Failure would have been a tragedy,” noted Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at the University of Surrey told Reuters.

“She behaved in the only way she could.”

Maintaining Italy’s support for Ukraine

Giorgia Meloni was sworn in on a promise that she would maintain her steadfast support to Ukraine as it fends off Russia’s invasion, and has certainly not rolled back on any of her pledges — to the satisfaction of Kyiv.

It appears Meloni has been willing to put her money where her mouth is, as further reports emerge that Italy and France are days away from finalising a deal to supply Ukraine with a SAMP/T “Mamba” air defence system.

The PM and her cabinet’s allegiance to Ukaine however, could not be taken for granted.

Despite welcoming a large share of Ukraine’s refugees, Italy remains one of Western Europe’s most Russia-friendly countries. The burden of decades-long economic hardships and the scars of COVID-19 have left many Italians reluctant to support sanctions, a sentiment which populist politicians — many belonging to her own bloc — have been willing to tap into.

Some of Meloni’s colleagues have themselves cosied up to the Kremlin. Fellow coalition leader Silvio Berlusconi is a long-time confidante of President Vladimir Putin confidante, who was recorded last October admitting to exchanging gifts and “sweet letters” with the maligned Russian leader.

And Matteo Salvini — appointed by Meloni as deputy PM — had previously expressed positive attitudes towards Russia, and had donned a Putin T-shirt back in 2014.

Taking journalists to court

Italy has long been ranked as one of Western Europe’s worst countries for journalists, coming in at 58th place in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

Some journalists have expressed concerns that Meloni’s election win has made life even more challenging for reporters in Italy, especially those belonging to the left.

While Meloni — herself a journalist — has expressed her support for press freedom, critics point to hostile behaviours from members of her party, Brothers of Italy, towards leftist journalists, as well as legal threats made by the right-wing leader herself against dissenting voices, as signs of a worsening situation.

Among these is Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian-Italian journalist and academic, who found herself threatened with legal action after claims she had made about Meloni’s views on immigration.

“[Meloni and her party] want to take down anyone who ever dares to criticise their policies,” she told Euronews. “It’s a sign of what’s to come.”

But while Meloni eventually fell short of taking Jebreal to court, she did not spare another journalist: Roberto Saviano.

In October, she decided to sue Saviano — one of Italy’s most prominent anti-Mafia campaigners and an avowed Meloni critic — over comments he had made in 2020, in which he labelled her and Salvini “bastards.”

If found guilty, Saviano could face up to three years in prison, a prospect which a global press freedom watchdog described as a “chilling message” to Italy’s journalists.

What do the analysts and the public say?

After 100 days in office, what do commentators and the Italian public say about Meloni so far?

Analysts have found their fears of a potential far-right takeover have been somewhat mitigated, although they remain unconvinced with Meloni’s performance.

“Her cabinet did not do much in its first 100 days,” Andrea Mammone, a history professor at Rome’s Sapienza University, told Euronews. “The government is basically following the EU on international politics.”

“This clearly shows how complex it is to run a country when someone is starting from populist premises,” he added.

According to opinion polls, Italians are broadly satisfied with Meloni’s job so far. Her party, Brothers of Italy, has soared since she took office, and she currently has a 48% approval rating.

It would appear Meloni has managed to hit a sweet middle spot, flexing her muscles when necessary to signal strength to her supporters — the arrest of Italy’s most-wanted Mafia boss earlier this month certainly bolstered her image — while also towing the Brussels line.

As Meloni further consolidates her power, she is likely to continue this careful balancing act which has reaped her significant rewards both home and abroad. But as a string of Italian prime ministers each saw their support plummet shortly after enjoying an initial ‘honeymoon’ phase, it remains to be seen whether the newly elected PM will manage to cling onto her popularity — or suffer the same fate.

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Italy plays on historic heartstrings with Algeria to boost critical energy ties

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hailed Algeria as Rome’s “most stable, strategic and long-standing” partner in North Africa as she wrapped up a two-day visit on Monday aimed at securing Italy’s energy supplies and promoting her plan for a “non-predatory” approach to investment on the continent.

Meloni, who leads Italy’s most right-wing government since World War II, was making her first bilateral visit abroad since her election last year, underscoring the importance given to Rome’s relationship with gas-rich Algeria at a time when European nations are racing to wean their economies off Russian gas.

Like all ranking visitors, Meloni began her trip by laying a wreath at the Monument of Martyrs, the hilltop memorial commemorating Algerians who died in the country’s struggle for independence from France. Her own country’s contribution to that struggle was the subject of a later stop in central Algiers, at a garden dedicated to Enrico Mattei, the legendary founder of the Italian energy company ENI, who championed – and bankrolled – Algeria’s independence fight in the 1950s and early 60s.

Meloni was accompanied by ENI’s current boss Matteo Descalzi, the chief architect of Italy’s ongoing pivot from Russian gas to Algerian gas. Their visit to the Mattei gardens was symbolic of a rapprochement dictated both by interest and historical affinity.

“In Algerian eyes, ENI is a lot more than a company. It’s a symbol of Italo-Algerian friendship and of a relationship that dates back to before independence,” said the Algerian political journalist Akram Kharief.

“Algeria is always grateful to its allies. It has not forgotten that ENI was one of the very few companies not to flee during the country’s civil war (in the 1990s),” Kharief added. “As a result, the company enjoys privileged access to Algerian contracts and resources.”

Southern Europe’s gas hub

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Algeria’s ample reserves of natural gas have played a key role in reducing Italy’s energy dependence on Moscow, which accounted for 40% of Rome’s gas imports prior to the war. Meloni’s trip to Algiers come on the heels of two visits by her predecessor Mario Draghi, who secured an Algerian pledge to rapidly ramp up gas exports.

Since then, Algeria has replaced Russia as Italy’s top energy supplier and Rome is pushing to further increase its energy imports from Algeria, hoping to act as a hub for supplies between Africa and northern Europe in the coming years. It also wants guarantees that Algeria can live up to its pledges, amid concerns that the country’s creaking energy infrastructure will prove unable to meet the surging demand.

“Gas flows from Algeria increased last year but not by as much as promised. They even dropped in January, forcing Italy to buy more gas coming from Russia,” said Francesco Sassi, a research fellow specialising in energy geopolitics at the Italian consultancy RIE. “Algeria needs huge investment to boost both its production and export capacities amid a steep increase in local consumption,” he added.

On Monday, ENI’s Descalzi signed a raft of agreements with Algeria’s energy giant Sonatrach aimed at increasing Algerian gas exports to Italy. The two companies also agreed to develop projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and possibly building a pipeline to transport hydrogen to Italy.

Announcing the deals at a joint press conference with Meloni, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said the aim was for Italy to “become a platform for distribution of Algerian energy products in Europe”. He noted that trade between the two countries had already doubled from 8 billion dollars in 2021 to 16 billion in 2022.

Tebboune said his country wished “to enlarge cooperation (between Algeria and Italy) beyond energy”, pointing to Italy’s fabric of small and medium-sized companies as a model “to help Algeria get out of its dependence on hydrocarbons”.

Italian carmaker Fiat already plans to open to a factory in Algeria and Italy’s Confindustria industrial lobby agreed on Monday to pursue greater cooperation with Algerian business. The two sides also hailed an agreement between the Italian Space Agency and its Algerian counterpart to share knowledge and develop joint projects, while Rome offered its expertise to develop Algeria’s untapped potential in the tourism industry.

The ‘Mattei Plan’

The raft of deals and warm words exchanged during Meloni’s visit reflect a traditional affinity between Rome and Algiers, unburdened by the colonial legacy that plagues France’s relations with the North African country. They also underscore a convergence of interests between two countries that have sensed an opportunity in the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine.

Zine Ghebouli, a scholar on Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and Algerian politics at the University of Glasgow, said Italy has “taken advantage of Europe’s gas crisis to position itself as an energy hub”, giving Rome a solid base to strengthen its clout in the Mediterranean region.

“The overall objective now is to move from energy cooperation to cooperation on the economy, defence and foreign policy,” he added, pointing to Italy’s search for stability in North Africa – and particularly in Libya – to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

“Italy has shown positive signs regarding technology transfers, for instance. It will be interesting to see whether increased energy cooperation helps foster progress on other subjects too, including migration, and with other countries in the region, such as Tunisia,” Ghebouli said.

Since taking office just over three months ago, Meloni has repeatedly spoken of a “Mattei Plan” for Africa, named after the ENI founder who challenged Anglo-American oil majors over their exploitation of African resources – and whose death in a plane crash 60 years ago remains shrouded in mystery. She has touted the plan as a win-win partnership that will guarantee Europe’s energy security while addressing the root causes of migratory flows from Africa – namely poverty and jihadist unrest.

The approach “addresses what Meloni’s government sees a vital interest: to stem the flow of migrants,” said Kharief. “Italy has neither the coercive means to fight jihadism nor the economic might to foster development in Africa, but it has a broad plan and it has identified Algeria as its key strategic partner in this endeavour,” he added.

During Monday’s news conference in Algiers, Meloni promoted her plan for “collaboration on an equal basis, to transform the many crises that we are facing into opportunities.” She spoke of a “model of development that allows African nations to grow based on what they have, thanks to a non-predatory approach by foreign nations.”

However, the Italian premier has offered scant detail about her plan for a “virtuous relationship with African countries”. Some analysts have described it as little more than a PR stunt by the far-right leader – and evidence of the current Italian government’s desire to act independently of its European partners.

>> A ‘seismic’ shift: Will Meloni’s Italy turn its back on Europe?

By evoking Mattei’s memory, Meloni not only tugs at Algerian heartstrings. She “also harks harks back to a memory of Italy as a major player in the Mediterranean and the Mideast – constructing a narrative that has no grounding today,” said RIE’s Sassi.

“The Mattei Plan is primarily about playing up Italy’s role in tackling Europe’s energy crisis in order to secure the investments that Italy itself needs,” he said, noting that the country will need to upgrade its own infrastructure in order to serve as energy hub for the continent. “It is natural for each country to play the national card,” Sassi added. “But the current energy crisis can only have a European solution.”

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