Italy’s Meloni upset over ‘unacceptable threat’ from French minister

Italy's soon-to-be new PM Giorgia Meloni condemned French European Affairs Minister Laurence Boone after he expressed concern over Italian civil rights under the new cabinet.

Leader of Italian far-right Brothers of Italy party, Giorgia Meloni.
Far-right leader Giorgia Meloni reacted angrily to French minister Laurence Boone expressing doubts over Italian civil rights under the new government. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni, whose party triumphed at last month’s general election, demanded a public explanation earlier on Friday after a French minister suggested that rights may be at risk under the country’s new government.

European Affairs Minister Laurence Boone told Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Paris will “pay close attention to the respect for values and the rule of law” once the new cabinet is sworn in.

READ ALSO: Italy’s Meloni begins tricky government talks after election win

“The EU has already demonstrated its vigilance towards other countries such as Hungary and Poland,” Boone added, citing the two Eurosceptic governments that have clashed with Brussels over civil rights.

Meloni, whose post-fascist Brothers of Italy party won the September 25 vote by a big margin, said that the comments appeared to be “an unacceptable threat of interference

against a sovereign member state of the European Union”.

READ ALSO: The five biggest challenges facing Italy’s new hard-right government

“I trust that the French government will immediately deny the words”, Meloni said, adding that she hoped that “the left-wing” daily had in fact misinterpreted Boone’s words.

Meloni, a fierce defender of Catholic family values, is the leader of a right-wing coalition that activists fear might pose a threat to civil rights, from abortion to same-sex marriage.

READ ALSO: How could Italy’s new government change the constitution?

Italy’s most far-right government since World War II is expected to take up office by the end of October, with the two newly formed houses of parliament set to convene no later than October 15th.

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Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.