Italian PM Meloni's ally hits back at critics, says policies are the same but 'Europe has changed'

FIRST ON FOX – A close ally of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told Fox News Digital that criticism of her for abandoning her policies on illegal immigration and other issues was unfounded.

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Edmondo Cirielli told Fox News Digital: “Giorgia Meloni has not changed, Europe has changed.” Cirielli is the co-founder and national coordinator of Meloni's party, the Fratelli D'Italia party.

He said Italy was urging the European Union president to follow his strong conservative positions.


Giorgia Meloni speaks on the podium during the election campaign

The leader of Fratelli d'Italia, Giorgia Meloni, in Rome on September 22, 2022 for the closing of the electoral campaign for the general elections in Italy on September 25, 2022. (Getty Images)

He said that Ursula von der Leyen's Europe is attentive to Italy's policies and “listens to Italy's reasons.” Italy has always wanted nations to be stronger in Europe and leads the rest of the European Union in this area. accompanies Meloni in his action against illegal immigration. They have already intervened in Egypt and Tunisia. We will soon also do it in Libya.

He added “among other things, there will be European elections in a few months and the conservative party led by Giorgia Meloni, the European Conservative Party led by Giorgia Meloni, will give a new direction to this Europe. And the European Parliament itself , the European Union The People's Party itself will have to take into account the problems that exist today and that Giorgia Meloni identified during her electoral campaign.

Migrants from a migrant accommodation center on the Italian island of Lampedusa are guided by a security official on September 14, 2023 as they prepare to board the ship “Galaxy”, bound for the Sicilian town of Porto Empedocle. The island has struggled to cope with the influx of migrant boats from North Africa, after their numbers peaked at 7,000 people, the equivalent of the entire local population. (Photo by ALESSANDRO SERRANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Birth rates in Italy fell to a record low in 2023, with a 15th consecutive annual decline. In 2023, Italy recorded 379,000 births, a decrease of 3.6% compared to 2022.

Cirielli said the problem does not only concern Italy, but concerns all of Western Europe. In its 2024 budget, Italy set aside about 1 billion euros (about $1.1 billion) for several measures aimed at tackling Italy's demographic crisis.

“We are implementing a series of policies aimed at supporting births, natality and young couples, both economically and financially, and this is obviously also a social phenomenon. It is about changing mentality and understand that life is an opportunity and a joy for everyone,” said the Deputy Foreign Minister.


In this image taken from a video released by the Italian coast guard on Thursday April 11, 2024, a boat with migrants is approached by a rescue operation off the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea. The Italian coast guard rescued 22 people and recovered nine bodies on Thursday, April 10, 2024, after a smugglers' boat capsized during a storm about 30 miles south of the island of Lampedusa. (Photo: Italian Coast Guard.)

The journey from North Africa to Italy has become one of the busiest migration routes, with data showing that migrant arrivals jumped 50% in 2023 from the previous year.

Cirielli accompanied Prime Minister Meloni last week on his fourth visit to Tunisia in a year, during which they signed new agreements under Italy's “Mattei Plan” for Africa.

Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Edmondo Cirielli, left, signs agreements with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Tunisian President Kais Saied, center right. (Photo: Gerardo Antelmo/Office of Vice Minister Edmondo Cirielli.) (Gerardo Antelmo/ Office of Vice Minister Edmondo Cirielli)

“We are faced with a historical fact that does not only concern Italy,” Cirielli said.


The Mattei plan aims to address the development of education and training, agriculture, health, water and energy, while aiming to make Italy an energy hub for transporting natural gas supplies from Africa to the rest of Europe.

“We intervene, first of all, with agreements with the countries of North Africa to prevent departures from these coasts, but above all, we try to reach the places of origin of the migration. They try to help At the same time, they also provide legal avenues for migration. Because the real problem is not migration itself, but rather the criminal organizations that are behind the migrant smuggling that creates a. new slave trade.

He added: “This globalization is becoming very powerful on the financial level, exploiting this trafficking and thus destabilizing Africa, transforming into criminal organizations which launder this money from international trafficking, channel it towards drugs, armaments and often support the causes of international trafficking. terrorist organizations. »

Under Italy's rotating leadership, G7 foreign ministers met last week on the Italian resort island of Capri to call for new sanctions on Iran over its attack on Israel.

“Italy, which chairs the G7, has condemned Iran's action and knows well that Iran is carrying out destabilizing action in the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East, but it is also true that we have not need for escalation The bombing of a consular office, the diplomatic headquarters, was also a risky act On the other hand, the entire G7 noted that Iran's response was a response. , this time a balanced and moderate response to the episode itself.

G7 foreign ministers meet in Capri, Italy.

British Foreign Minister David Cameron, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourne and Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani meet on the second day of a G7 foreign ministers meeting in Capri, Italy, on the 18th April 2024. (Reuters/Remo Casilli/Piscine)

Cirielli added: “It has been understood that the Iranian government does not want an escalation and therefore everyone agrees, within the G7, on the invitation, following the example of Biden and Giorgia Meloni and its close neighbors ready to support Israel, in particular. Israel's right to defend itself and Israel's right to exist. But we must continue de-escalation and prevent a regional war from breaking out over this issue in Gaza. »

In December, Italy withdrew from China's Belt and Road Initiative, which aimed to rebuild the Silk Road to connect China with Asia and Europe by increasing infrastructure spending of China in terms of roads and maritime routes.

Cirielli says the decision to withdraw does not constitute an interruption between relations between Italy and China, but is in the best interest of Italian trade.


“The Conte government and the center-left governments that preceded us made a mistake in reaching a political agreement, because it seemed incompatible with the North Atlantic Treaty alliance and with the European Union. We put end this agreement on time and establish a new economic and social partnership, as experienced by France and Germany. There is therefore not an interruption of relations, but a different modulation based on old relations. millennia almost exclusively between the Italic peoples and the Italic peoples, based absolutely on good dialogue, on profitable trade for all.

“The opposition said it was not bad to have diplomatic or economic relations with China, but to have a political relationship that underpins the deal China launched with the world,” he said. -he concluded.


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