Italy’s Meloni Demonstrates Conservative Stance at G7 Summit


By Crispian Balmer
June 15, 2024, 11:44 AM EDT | Updated 5 hours ago

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BARI, Italy, June 15 (Reuters) – Since taking office in 2022, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has often shown a pragmatic approach to major international issues, easing concerns about her conservative ideologies. However, at the Group of Seven (G7) summit hosted in southern Italy this week, Meloni underscored her commitment to core nationalist values, particularly on family and reproductive rights.

In preparation for the June 13-15 summit, the focus was on securing a multibillion-dollar loan for Ukraine using frozen Russian assets and addressing trade imbalances with China. Consensus was reached on both issues, highlighting Western unity amid global challenges.

Unexpectedly, diplomats disclosed that Italy insisted on removing references to “safe and legal abortion” from the final G7 communiqué and sought to dilute language on vaccination funding. Despite being largely isolated in her stance, Meloni succeeded in influencing the final text due to Italy’s position as the rotating G7 president.

“Meloni is against abortion and always has been, so that was her red line,” a European diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party opposes abortion and promotes traditional family values. “She has thrown a bit of red meat to her supporters,” said Daniele Albertazzi, a politics professor at Britain’s Surrey University. “She wants to stress her distinct stance from progressive leaders on these issues.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has previously clashed with Meloni over social issues, expressed regret over the omission of specific abortion references. Meloni downplayed the controversy, asserting that the G7’s Hiroshima declaration, which supports access to abortion, made repeating the text unnecessary.

“I believe the controversy was totally contrived,” Meloni told reporters, emphasizing she has no plans to outlaw abortion in Italy.

A senior U.S. official noted that President Joe Biden objected to the initial draft that omitted abortion references and the Hiroshima mention. Later, a senior White House official confirmed Biden supported the final communiqué.

Pope Francis, an outspoken abortion opponent, was a guest at the summit. Italy’s Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, Meloni’s brother-in-law, said discussing pregnancy terminations was inappropriate given the Pope’s presence. A European diplomat recounted an Italian counterpart mistakenly citing the Pope’s disapproval before correcting to refer to Meloni’s stance.

Italian officials did not immediately comment.

While Meloni’s abortion stance was anticipated, her push to soften vaccine language was surprising. Italy removed a line from the 2023 communiqué that called for “investment in global health through vaccine manufacturing capacity worldwide,” replacing it with a reference to “regional vaccines manufacturing initiatives.” Vaccine skepticism is prevalent in conservative circles in both the U.S. and Europe. Though Meloni did not endorse anti-vaccine campaigns during COVID, her party opposed strict regulations mandating vaccination for public activities.

“She’s not anti-vax, but she’s partially anti-vax,” another European diplomat commented.

Meloni’s office declined to comment.

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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