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HomeWorldIn Raisina Dialogue, Meloni says Italy 'deeply European', shares 'peninsular culture' with...

In Raisina Dialogue, Meloni says Italy ‘deeply European’, shares ‘peninsular culture’ with India

Italian PM Giorgia Meloni opened the 2023 edition of Raisina Dialogue in presence of PM Narendra Modi. Her India visit comes as 2 countries celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations.

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New Delhi: A day after coming under fire for her government’s policy on migrants, following a shipwreck Sunday off the southern Italian coast which resulted in the death of dozens, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Thursday described her country as “deeply European”.

Inaugurating the 2023 edition of the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Meloni focused on the importance of identity and the shared peninsular cultural heritage between India and Italy, citing the example of the Pompeii Lakshmi, an ancient Indian statue found in the historic Italian city in the 1930s.

“Italy is deeply European. Our roots and history are European, and together with a nation across a continent we have built Europe’s identity through the centuries. Yet, all of Italy’s coastlines are bathed in the Mediterranean (Sea), the natural environment where the Judaic-Christian and classic roots of Europe have developed,” Meloni said.

The Italian Prime Minister’s India visit comes as the two countries celebrate 75 years of diplomatic relations this year.

Although Meloni did not directly address recent controversies such as Italy’s migration policy in the light of the shipwreck, her remarks formed part of her broader argument about the similarities between the impact of India’s and Italy’s peninsular geographies on their respective cultural identities, histories and resources.

“Considering some important similarities between the wide and profound wealth of the Indian and Italian ancient cultures and contemporary interests, I wonder if one can speak of the concept of peninsularity, which could have a place next to those of insularity and continentality… geography has shaped our culture, our outward projection and our growth as a civilisation. Much like India, the peninsular factor has given us a crucial resource as a continental and maritime nation — a key advantage, making us natural platforms for trade, logistics and dissemination of culture and science,” Meloni said, explaining her position.

While promoting the future of Indo-Italian relations and strategic partnerships with the Indo-Pacific, Meloni reiterated Italy’s prioritisation of nations located further south and across the Mediterranean, and emphasised the importance of the “Mattei plan” recently backed by Italy to renew energy ties with African nations.

On Russian invasion of Ukraine

The Italian Prime Minister also used the impact of Russia’s year-long offensive in Ukraine on global trade and supply chains as an example of how, in the modern connected world, the problems of one region have direct, far-reaching repercussions thousands of miles away.

“The events of 24 February last year (when Russia invaded Ukraine) brought us back to the worst of the 20th century. I was in (Ukraine capital) Kyiv last week and witnessed the harsh realities on the ground and felt the strength of Ukrainians’ national spirit amid the destruction,” she said.

“The war is in Europe, distant geographically from many other parts of the world, many of which are facing their own hardships. This should not overshadow what’s at stake — Russia’s attack is not simply an act of war or a localised conflict. It’s an act against the territorial integrity of a sovereign nation in violation of the fundamental principles of the global order that enables the international community to thrive,” Meloni added, to a smattering of applause.

The Italian PM delivered her speech in the presence of PM Modi, who did not come up to the stage to speak. Instead, her speech was preceded by opening remarks by Samir Saran and Sunjoy Joshi of the Observer Research Foundation, the think-tank that co-organises the Raisina Dialogue annually with the Ministry of External Affairs.

A vote of thanks by Union Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar followed Meloni’s inauguration speech.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also read: India-Italy-Japan is the troika that can one-up China. It starts with Meloni’s Delhi visit

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