US cannot dictate EU strategic interests: ex-Italy PM
Italy's former Prime Minister criticizes how the country is moving regarding Ukraine and Russia and how it is fueling the fire instead of promoting peace talks.
The European Union's strategic interests cannot be simply boiled down to those of the United States, leader of the opposition Five Star Movement party and former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday.
Conte, the former leader of one of the most prominent EU member states, further underlined that Brussels must take the initiative to find a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine crisis.
"The EU must pursue strategic interests that cannot be reduced to the interests of Washington. EU must raise its head. Europe must show credible leadership that can lead to a sustainable and lasting solution to this conflict," he told the Italian newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale.
Moreover, he also went on to criticize Rome's plans for pumping arms into Ukraine.
"We believe that now the fire must be ceased and a turn towards negotiations must be made. We do not believe that it is right to follow the strategy of supplying new weapons," Conte stressed.
"We have fully armed Ukraine, now we need the turn towards a ceasefire and peace negotiations," the former leader added, reiterating his call for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis.
Conte partook in a mass demonstration in Rome on Saturday, calling for peace talks on the Ukraine war.
The demonstration, according to the former PM, was held by many citizens who are yet to be heard and who are seriously concerned about the strategy that "led to the ongoing military escalation.
This comes after new far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said during her first parliamentary address that her country would continue supporting the European Union and NATO. "Italy is fully part of Europe and the Western world," and that it would "continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine."
Her predecessor, Mario Draghi, who was among the strongest EU advocates of sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine, sent weapons to Kiev. He convened with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alongside France's President Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz in June to showcase his support for Kiev.
Despite being in opposition and acknowledging Italy's heavy reliance on Russian gas, Meloni advocated for backing Kiev as well.
Italy has so far given Ukraine more than 0.15% of its annual GDP since the beginning of the war, with the European Union combined giving 40% of its GDP to Ukraine in the form of "aid".
On one hand, the US and the EU keep stacking military aid packages, with the former's recent August package including a $3bln arms supply and the latter's seen through Germany's continuation of weaponry transfer to Ukraine, including new equipment that the German Armed Forces do not have enough of, according to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
On another hand, Russia criticizes the flow of weapons to Ukraine from the West, saying it adds fuel to the fire, and warning that any military shipments on Ukrainian territory would be "legitimate targets" for the Russian forces.