Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni – Ansa
The case is bound to have domestic and international consequences. The diplomacy of Palazzo Chigi was deceived by two Russian comedians who managed to speak by telephone with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in person, also obtaining utterances about Ukraine from the conversation. The facts, Palazzo Chigi informs, date back to 18 September. The full audio of the conversation was published on the Canadian platform Rumble and was filmed by the Russian agency Ria Novosti.
The phone call
Palazzo Chigi confirms what happened when the audio has now begun its viral run. «The Office of the Diplomatic Advisor to the President of the Council of Ministers regrets having been misled by an impostor who posed as the President of the African Union Commission and who was put in telephone contact with President Meloni. The episode occurred on 18 September in the context of the intense commitment developed in those hours by President Meloni to strengthen relations with the African leaders with whom he had important meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly between 19 and September 21st.”
Two Russian comedians, Vovan (Vladimir Kuznetsov) and Lexus (Alexey Stolyarov), “pierced” the Italian diplomatic system. Listening to the audio, it is clear that the prime minister did not smell a scam. To the point that regarding Ukraine Meloni admitted: «There is a lot of tiredness on all sides» e «The time is approaching when everyone will understand that we need a way out». «The problem – states the interlocutor who is introduced by the two comedians as Giorgia Meloni – is to find a way out acceptable to both parties without destroying international law. I have some ideas on how to handle this situation, but I’m waiting for the right time to put them on the table. Ukraine’s counteroffensive is not going as expected and has not changed the fate of the conflict, everyone understands that it could last many years if we do not try to find a solution.” In any case, adds the deceived prime minister, the Ukrainians “are doing what they have to do, what is right to do, and we are trying to help them”.
Less relevant from an international point of view, but still full of content that lends itself to political controversy, is also the part of the conversation concerning migrants. «Europe – states the interlocutor – thought for a long time that it could solve the problem by limiting it to Italy. What they don’t understand is that it’s impossible. The dimension of this phenomenon is such that it involves not only the EU, but in my opinion also the UN. The problem is that others don’t care and everyone agrees that Italy must solve this problem alone.” «The situation is very difficult for us – continues the person speaking with the two Russian comedians thinking of speaking with an African authority -, since the beginning of the year we have had around 120 thousand arrivals, mostly from Tunisia. What they don’t understand in Europe is that it is not possible for the problem to be solved by Italy alone. It concerns the European Union but also the United Nations. The problem is that others don’t care, they don’t answer the phone». «The problem is that it is impossible for us to integrate these migrants. The EU understands this in the conclusions of the European Council and in the words of Ursula von der Leyen but then when you ask them to allocate the money to invest in these countries everything becomes more difficult, to tell the truth. This also applies to the memorandum signed with Tunisia in July, President Saied has not yet seen a euro.”
There is also a moment in which Meloni asks the interlocutor a question: «Can I ask you something that stays between us, do you think that what is happening in Niger is against France? I see that France is pushing for some sort of intervention. I’m trying to understand how we can support a diplomatic effort.” Then there is a brief mention of Libya. «We could discuss for hours – states the voice attributed to Meloni – what happened in Libya. Maybe today someone understands that the situation afterward wasn’t so good, it wasn’t better.”
The open questions
There are at least four questions that arise with the audio taken by deception from Giorgia Meloni:
– the first level, the ease with which a diplomatic filter was passedor that it should be very rigorous before an interlocutor can directly access the Italian Prime Minister;
– as a second level of reflection, we must ask ourselves whether the words on Ukraine will put the prime minister in difficulty on an international level. The concept of “tiredness” has already been expressed on other occasions, including publicly by the Prime Minister, and essentially Meloni remains firm on her support for Kiev, however it is clear that concerns filter through the Prime Minister’s words (also understandable and in the air for months) which they play into the hands of Russian propaganda;
– the third level concerns i migrantsand the admission of not finding people in Europe who “answer” calls from Rome, except for some formal recognition in documents;
– the fourth level concerns the ability to Russian infiltration in national public opinions, particularly in Italy, on the eve of a decisive electoral deadline, such as the 2024 European elections.
The diplomatic office that could pay for the mistake
The Office of the Diplomatic Counselor assists the Prime Minister in international relations. The office pierced by the two Russian comedians is headed by the diplomatic advisor, ambassador Francesco Maria Talò. The deputy diplomatic advisor is the plenipotentiary minister Alessandro Cattaneo. The office’s advisors are Lorenzo Ortona, Andrea Arnaldo, Lucia Pasqualini, Luca Laudiero, Raffaella Di Carlo and Stefano la Tella. For the G7 and G20 the person responsible is Ambassador Luca Ferrari with the help of Fausto Panebianco.
The government’s defense: Moscow is behind it, but Meloni held the line
After admitting the incident, government sources tried to patch things up: despite the attempt to make her say “uncomfortable” phrases, it is explained, Meloni instead essentially reiterated the positions taken by the government, albeit in the usual tones of extreme courtesy formal meetings that are held in discussions with foreign institutional representatives, it explains. The Prime Minister, despite the “provocations”, sources close to the Prime Minister continue, confirmed his full support for Ukraine and the Italian policies to combat illegal immigration, the same sources conclude. The undersecretary at Palazzo Chigi who also coordinates government communication, Giovanbattista, then spoke Fazzolari: «Russian propaganda is desperate for the catastrophic progress of their so-called ‘special operation’ which has turned into a continuous defeat of the Russian army on Ukrainian soil», observes Fazzolari. Who then underlines: «Giorgia Meloni does not fall into the trap of Russian propagandists and confirms the Italian line of support for Ukraine and respect for international law». Also the group leader of the Brothers of Italy in the Chamber Tommaso Photos defends Meloni: «President Meloni did not fall into the trap of a Russian impostor who pretended to be an African leader to obtain statements that could embarrass the government. Despite being misled, in fact, the Prime Minister consistently and transparently reiterated the line of the executive and the country regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine and Italy’s position on the side of the West, Kiev and full respect for international law. Whoever wanted to create a diplomatic case and break the blockade of allied forces in Kiev had the wrong target: Giorgia Meloni confirms herself, once again, as a truly capable leader who, with linearity, wisdom and seriousness, is pursuing a foreign policy as too many It hasn’t been seen in Italy for years.”
The oppositions between mockery and warnings
The news is too tempting for the opposition, who go on the attack despite the public holiday. For the green Angel Bonelli «Meloni turns the government into a joke». And the dem Enzo Amendola joins the viral train of the last few hours, relaunching an excerpt from the film “Tototruffa” in which Totò pretends to be ambassador of Catonga. Matteo Renzi, for Italia Viva, comes down hard: «What a shame for Italy and for Giorgia Meloni. Having worked for a few years in Chigi, I wonder how it is possible to reach such a devastating level of superficiality that makes not only Meloni but the Italian Republic look bad. Two considerations – continues Renzi – In the method. 1. Meloni needs to get help. If this is the level of her team, we’re just not there. And stop always blaming someone else. The credibility of the country is at stake, can we stop with these planetary barbarian figures? 2. On the merits. Giorgia Meloni says that no one listens to her proposals and that other leaders don’t even respond to her. If it’s true, it’s a sign of weakness. If it’s not true, the worse I feel. The Premier must put an end to this cosmic victimhood whereby she is always the object of malice and conspiracies. Bring her ideas and stop saying that everyone is angry with you. If others don’t answer you, make an effort to be serious. Italy’s credibility is at stake here, enough with amateurs”, concludes the IV leader.
He also attacks Giuseppe Conte, leader of M5s: «In the phone call with the elusive African leader – explains the former prime minister in a video – Meloni revealed truths that he never told the Italians. She continues to send weapons to Ukraine indefinitely and to pursue this military escalation but she herself appears aware that it is necessary to find a negotiated way out that protects the interests of both parties. But above all she admits that she has not yet found the courage to bring a different position for Italy to the tables that count, one that finally offers a negotiated solution. However, this cowardice is paid by Italians, Europeans, but above all by the victims of this war, who unfortunately continue to grow. She fails on Ukraine, she fails on the issue of migrants and the other leaders don’t even answer her phone. Serious damage to Italy, a huge deception for Italians.”
Andrea Orlando of the Democratic Party, regarding the government’s explanations, speaks of “a patch worse than a hole”. The radical Magi asks Meloni to “report to the Chamber about the serious security breach”. Instead he invites us “not to exploit” the leader of Action Carlo Calenda.
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