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New Italian PM Meloni sees tough times, denounces Russian ‘blackmail’

Giorgia Meloni is Italy’s first female prime minister. She pledged on Tuesday (25 October) to lead the country through the worst times since World War Two, and to support Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

In her maiden speech before parliament Meloni struck a combative tone and said that her conservative coalition would be heard in Europe and disavowed Fascism despite her party’s far right roots.

Meloni, who gave a broad speech lasting more than an hour, stated that Italy would support Western sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin despite a reduction in gas imports from Moscow.

Meloni stated that anyone who thinks it’s possible to trade Ukraine freedom for peace of mind is wrong.

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“Giving in Putin’s blackmail regarding energy will not solve the problem. It would only exacerbate the problem by opening the door to more demands and blackmail.”

Meloni (45), the head of the Nationalist Brothers of Italy won victory last month in an electoral coalition that also included Forza Italia, headed by ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigrant League.

It is Italy’s most right-wing government since World War Two. Previous close ties with Moscow, Berlusconi and Salvini have raised concerns about its foreign policy.

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Later, Meloni denied allegations by opposition lawmakers that her views were anti-European. She said “you don’t necessarily need to be a federalist” to believe in European integration.

She said: “(The European Union] has gotten involved in lots of matters that should have been left up to nation states… and has been absent from the big strategic questions.”

FASCISM CONDEMNED

Meloni stated that her government would provide financial support to families and businesses affected by the energy crisis. However, she warned that this could mean her administration may have to delay some of her more expensive promises.

She said that “the context in which government will need to act is very complex, perhaps the most difficult since World War Two”, and added that the economy could fall into recession next year due to rising inflation and disruptions linked to the COVID-19 outbreak and Ukraine.

Meloni, was raised in a working-class area of Rome and cast herself as an underdog who is ready to challenge critics who accuse her of being an illiberal demagog.

“I have never felt sympathy or closeness towards anti-democratic governments.” She said that fascism was not included in the list of regimes she supported.

“In the same manner, I have always considered 1938’s (anti-Semitic racial) laws a low point in Italian history. A shame that will forever tarnish our people.”

She said that Italy will work with African governments to stop migrants from reaching Africa.

She said: “Nobody should come to Italy illegally.”

After Meloni’s 70-minute speech, Meloni was greeted by her supporters who gave her a standing ovation, some chanting “Giorgia! Giorgia!”

The lower house was to vote in confidence for her government. This is despite Meloni’s large majority. On Wednesday (26 October), a similar vote was held in the Senate upper house.

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EU Reporter publishes articles from a variety of outside sources which express a wide range of viewpoints. The positions taken in these articles are not necessarily those of EU Reporter.

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