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06 September 2018:

Conference Report
by Antonino Occhiuto

Foreign policy orientations tend to be the last factor to change, if at all, following transitions from one government to another. However, as a result of the 2018 general elections, the new Italian government depends on the support of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle and the far right Lega Nord. Both parties vowed a radical change from the policies of past governments including with regards to foreign policy. The current government is likely to direct its foreign policy towards an anti-immigration agenda, approved by a considerable part of the electorate. However, it is difficult to predict whether other priorities or strategic challenges will force the government to shift towards traditional Italian positions. It is noteworthy that this government still has technocrats in key positions, including Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi and Economy’s Minister Giovanni Tria, who might be steering towards a degree of continuity with the past. So far, generally speaking, Italy’s government has preferred an approach which privileges hedging among the United States (US), the European Union (EU) as well as Russia over the traditional Italian support for Western multilateralism. Amid this dynamic, the Euro-Gulf Information Centre (EGIC), held a roundtable on September 6 with high-level Italian analysts to discuss the current and short-term trajectories of Italy’s foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Speakers included (former Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs), Benedetto della Vedova, (Director of the NATO Defence College Foundation NDCF) Alessandro Politi, the (NDCF Libya expert) Umberto Profazio and Mitchell Belfer (EGIC’s President).