New Italian PM Meloni sees tough times, denounces Russian “blackmail”

  • The new prime minister of Italy presents a program to the parliament
  • It is said that the country may face a recession next year
  • He says that the European integration is done badly
  • He says he has no sympathy for “anti-democratic regimes”.

ROME, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Italy’s first female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, vowed on Tuesday to lead the country through some of its toughest times since World War Two and to stand by Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

In his first speech in parliament, Meloni said that his conservative coalition, despite his party’s right-wing roots, is making its voice heard in Europe and rejects fascism.

In a wide-ranging speech that lasted more than an hour, Meloni said Italy would support Western sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin regardless of a cut in gas imports from Moscow.

“Anyone who believes that Ukraine’s freedom can be traded for our peace is mistaken,” Meloni said.

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“Giving in to Putin’s energy blackmail will not solve the problem, but will exacerbate it by opening the way for further demands and blackmail.”

Meloni, 45, head of the nationalist Brotherhood of Italy party, won last month as part of an electoral coalition that included Forza Italia, led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigrant League.

The government is Italy’s most right-wing since World War II, and Moscow’s past ties to Berlusconi and Salvini have raised concerns about its foreign policy.

Meloni later dismissed opposition MPs’ accusations of being anti-European, saying that “you don’t have to be a federalist to believe in European integration.”

“(The European Union) got involved in a lot of things that should have been left to the nation states … and was absent from the big strategic issues,” he said.

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Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani attend a vote of confidence in the new government in the lower house of parliament, in Rome, Italy, October 25, 2022. REUTERS/Remo Casilli


Meloni said her government would offer financial assistance to families and businesses affected by the energy crisis, warning that the high cost of doing so meant her administration would have to delay some of its most expensive campaign promises.

“The time when the government has to act is very difficult, perhaps the most difficult since World War II,” he said, adding that the economy could face a recession next year as it grapples with rising inflation and disruptions related to COVID-19. 19 fights. 19 pandemic and Ukraine.

Meloni, who grew up in a working-class district of Rome, established himself as an underground figure ready to stand up to critics who accused him of being an illiberal demagogue.

“I have never felt sympathy or affinity for anti-democratic regimes. For any regime that does not include fascism,” he said.

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“Thus, I will always consider the racial (anti-Semitic) laws of 1938 to be the lowest point in Italian history, a shame that will stain our nation forever.”

On migration, a key issue for his supporters, he said Italy would work to stop people-trafficking in the Mediterranean and work with African governments to stem the flow of migrants from the continent.

“No one should come to Italy illegally,” he said.

Meloni’s supporters gave him a standing ovation after his 70-minute speech: “Georgia, Georgia.”

The lower house subsequently approved the new government by 235 votes to 154 with five abstentions. A similar vote is expected on Wednesday in the upper chamber of the Senate, where Meloni also enjoys a clear majority.

Additional reporting by Gavin Jones, Giuseppe Fonte and Giselda Wagnoni Writing by Keith Weir; Edited by Chizu Nomiyama and Crispian Ballmer

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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