The President of Ukraine at the summit in Japan. For the Prime Minister, talks with the British Prime Minister Sunak and with the German Chancellor Scholz who will be in Italy on 8 June
The news polarized the attention of journalists gathered in the press room of the ‘Hiroshima green arena’ from the early hours of the morning. Despite the Japanese government’s assurances that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yes, he will be there, but he will take part in the G7 in Hiroshima ‘only’ by video link, the conviction of his arrival is gaining momentum by the hour. And in fact the leader of the Ukrainian resistance will fly to Hiroshima in the next few hours on a French plane, ‘silenced’ times and arrival times for security reasons. The only certainty is that he will speak on Sunday, together with the conviction that he will also dominate this summit.
After all, the war in Ukraine is the undisputed protagonist of this first day of the G7, where China is also the host, a stone guest, at the center of the last working session on the Indo-Pacific but also of the one on the chains of supply that kicks off the summit. The leaders push on sanctions against Russia, put pen to paper a new tightening on diamond exports. The Russian aggression “constitutes a violation of international law, in particular of the UN Charter”, and they point the finger at “Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric”. A sentence made even more suggestive in the setting of Hiroshima and an unforgettable past.
Giorgia Meloni arrives at the summit in a suit in shades of light blue. Before the summit, she sees Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The format is that of bilateral, therefore more structured than the meetings held later with the chancellor Olaf Scholz and with the British prime minister Rishi Sunak. A delegation of Canadian journalists witnesses the first minutes of conversation, usually a completely formal exchange. And instead Trudeau ‘stings’ Meloni on a sensitive issue, saying he is concerned about LGBT rights in Italy. And he does it in the presence of reporters, touching on a dossier that sees him as a champion of ‘rainbow’ rights inside and outside national borders. Meloni is visibly annoyed, she runs a hand through her hair, replies that her government has not touched the legislation, she works in continuity with previous administrations.
In Italy, the oppositions are roaring, they reproach Meloni for having actually made a clear change of course, starting with the stop to transcription of the birth certificates of the children of ‘rainbow’ families. Italian sources admit that the issue came up unexpectedly, and is “surprising” because the meeting had been prepared by the two diplomats and this “wasn’t one of the key topics”. However, the same sources hastily declassified the episode: “the meeting went well – they claim – and we quickly moved on to something else. As can be seen from the statement released by the Canadian government, the issue is not at the top of their minds, it started and that’s it.”
After the bilateral agreement with the Canadian leader, Meloni heads to the summit and takes part in the three working sessions. It is here that he shows the other leaders the photos of the floods in Emilia Romagna, shots that tell of the desperation, destruction and pain of these hours. He collects the solidarity of the ‘Big’, some activate ambassadors in Rome to understand how they can lend a hand. French President Emmanuel Macron, after the cold days with Italy, also expresses the solidarity of Paris via Twitter.
Meloni then carves out a meeting with Olaf Scholz, in view of the visit that the German chancellor will see in Italy on 8 June. The delicate ‘Ita-Lufthansa’ dossier also peeps out on the table, more generally they address the issue of the growth of synergies between the industrial systems of the two countries. With Sunak the understanding is full, as also emerges from the photos taken during their meeting, the wild nature of Hiroshima as a frame. The expected meeting with US President Joe Biden did not instead take place on this first day of work, but the two talk closely together with the president of the European commission Ursula von der Leyen as they head, on foot, to the temple of the sacred deer on the island of Miyajima.
And it is precisely von der Leyen, during the summit, who pushed for work to offer an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, a slippery issue for Italy, the only G7 power to have signed the Memorandum of Understanding: year 2019, first Conte government in office. Rome will have to decide by the end of the year whether to stay or withdraw, but Italian sources reiterate that there is time to decide, assuring that there is no pressure from the other leaders in this regard.
Including the States, as evidenced by a very high-level meeting held today with a member of the American administration. Mouths sewn on the name, but Rome once again reiterates that on the ‘Silk Road’ it will be the only one to decide, involving Parliament and Copasir in the final verdict. (Of Ileana Sciarra)