MARIO DRAGHI, President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, said during the Russian Federation’s aggression on Ukraine since February, the international community has witnessed the bombing of theatres, schools and hospitals, as well as terrible attacks and violence on civilians, including children — all in an attempt to subjugate a free and sovereign democracy, which has fought back with pride and courage. Helping Ukraine to protect itself was not only the right choice — it was the only choice consistent with the ideals of the United Nations Charter. The European Union, with its NATO and G7 allies, responded to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request and have imposed unprecedented sanctions on the Russian Federation to weaken its military and convince President Vladimir Putin to sit at the negotiating table. The European Union has welcomed thousands of refugees, he noted, assisting those who have remained in Ukraine and are ready to fund the reconstruction of the country.
Moscow’s plan was to conquer Kyiv in a few weeks, but although the outcome of the conflict remains unpredictable, Kyiv appears to have gained an important strategic advantage, he said. Under sanctions imposed on Moscow, the IMF expects the Russian economy to contract this year and next year by about 10 per cent in total, making it difficult to respond effectively to the defeats that are piling up on the battlefield. Noting Moscow tried to divide countries using gas as blackmail, Italy has halved its dependence on Russian Federation gas and expects to become completely independent in 2024. On this path, it has benefitted from agreements made with many African countries. “We want to develop green technologies together, to put Africa squarely at the centre of the green transition,” he stated, calling for the European Union to impose a price cap on gas imports.
The Italian Government has long championed Ukraine’s bid for European Union membership and strongly supports the integration of the Western Balkans, Moldova, and Georgia. Noting the IAEA’s access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, he said he hoped for some form of demilitarization of the area. Voicing hope there can be a future in which the Russian Federation returns to the principles it chose to subscribe to in 1945, he noted a world divided into blocs, characterized by rigid ideological demarcations and military confrontations cannot generate development.
Citing efforts to overcome vaccine protectionism, he noted the COVAX mechanism, which distributed more than 1.4 billion doses to the countries that needed them the most, enhancing financial assistance to vulnerable States to help them respond to the economic consequences of the pandemic and promoting the extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative. Further, for the first time, all Group of Twenty member States pledged to try to keep global warming within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels and accepted the scientific facts behind this goal, he cited the need to support the most vulnerable states — for example, the tragic flooding in Pakistan, with millions of people forced to leave their homes. Italy is the largest contributor of Blue Helmets among European countries, he stated, with the military is deployed in five missions in the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia, and is well aware that migration is a global phenomenon, and must be addressed as such.