First the case of the two marines, then the banning of Leonardo from the Indian market. For over a decade, relations between Italy and India have been practically frozen. Now that these two complicated events have been archived, a new season of bilateral relations is taking shape, and the scope of the visit by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni must be viewed in this direction who, together with Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, will arrive in New Delhi, where will remain tomorrow, Thursday 2 March. The mission will then continue with a two-day visit to Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.
The program in New Delhi
Meloni will arrive in New Delhi at 8.20 (3.50 in Italian), according to what the Indian government reports on its website, in the program updated last night. Then she will move to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the presidential residence, where a welcoming ceremony is scheduled. Then, at 6 am Italian time, Meloni will pay homage to the Mahatma Gandhi memorial, before the bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi: the two at 1.05 pm (8.35 am Italian time) will make joint statements to the press. A courtesy visit by the President of the Republic Droupadi Murmu is scheduled for the afternoon. Then at 6.30 pm (2 pm Italian time), Meloni at the Taj Palace will give a speech at the inauguration of the VII edition of the Raisina Dialogue, an important geopolitical and economic conference for the Indo-Pacific area. Friday morning at 10, when it will be 5.30 in Italy, Meloni and the Italian delegation will fly to Abu Dhabi.
On the table the war in Ukraine and relations with the EU
An appointment in which the government’s desire to exploit the full potential of the Indo-Pacific theater is intertwined with the urgency of approaching those who have not so far openly opposed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, remaining almost “equivalent” between Moscow and the EU front -United States. Just like India, which abstained in the latest UN resolution, a few days after hosting an aeronautics fair in which the Russian and American pavilions were not far from each other. “Contacts need to be intensified with those countries that have still abstained”, Meloni stressed, speaking in connection with the other G7 leaders on the day of the anniversary of the Ukrainian conflict. In recent weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron and, a few days ago, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have also been in New Delhi. In the background, not only the war in Ukraine, but also the free trade treaty between India and the European Union, which has been stalled for years.
The Indian market and Italy
For Italy, the market of the most populous country in the world is strategic, in particular for the 210 billion investments that India has planned for defense (among the needs, that of guarding the borders, in the mountainous areas bordering Pakistan, and maritime ones) and for the relationships already established in the shipbuilding field, also with Fincantieri. Not secondary is the Indian strategy of competing with China in Africa, where the Meloni government in turn is aiming for the Mattei Plan. A first turning point towards rapprochement between the two countries took place in 2021: for 12 years an Indian prime minister had not been to Rome, as Modi did. Meeting with Mario Draghi led India to remove Leonardo from the blacklist. And now work is underway on a bilateral defense cooperation pact between the two countries, as confirmed by diplomatic sources. “India – explains Matteo Perego di Cremnago, Undersecretary of Defence, returning from a mission to the Asian country – can be a strategic partner for Italy also to determine our position in the Indo-Pacific area, complementary to the partnership with the Japan on sixth generation fighters”.
The Defense Sector Agreement
India awaits Giorgia Meloni’s visit to strengthen bilateral collaboration with Italy, in particular with the signing of an agreement in the defense sector which, according to official sources quoted by the daily The Hindu, “will have a framework that will allow for other agreements between the governments of the two countries”. “Premier Meloni’s visit – underlines the Indian Foreign Ministry – will further strengthen the long-standing relationship that exists between Italy and India. Both sides will take stock of the progress made since the November 2020 summit, will strengthen cooperation in the defense sector and Security and, more generally, economic relations”.
The stage in the United Arab Emirates
Meloni will then be in Abu Dhabi, where the situation is perhaps even more delicate. It was January 2021 when the Conte II government decided to revoke the authorizations for the export of missiles and bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, countries leading the Sunni coalition against the Shiite rebels of Yemen. A few months later, Abu Dhabi banned the overflight of the Italian Air Force Boeing bound for Herat for the ceremony of the conclusion of the mission of the Italian troops in Afghanistan. But over the years there have been other controversies, such as the Etihad-Alitalia operation and the Piaggio Aerospace drone project.