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POLITICS

Biden warns Italy over election results as Draghi receives award from Ukraine

The US President Joe Biden warned that global ‘democracy is at stake’ as Italy’s outgoing PM Mario Draghi received one of Ukraine’s most prestigious awards.

US President Joe Biden hosts the US-Pacific Island Country Summit with Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) at the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 29, 2022.
US President Joe Biden expressed concern over Italy’s recent elections, saying that ‘democracy is at stake’. Photo by Oliver CONTRERAS

President Joe Biden cited the far-right’s election success in Italy as evidence of what he regarded as a danger to democracy around the world, including in the United States.    

“You just saw what’s happened in Italy in that election. You’re seeing what’s happening around the world,” Biden told Democratic party governors at a late meeting on Wednesday, referring to the win by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni in Italy.   

READ ALSO: Italy will not recognise Russian referendums, says Draghi

“We can’t be sanguine about what’s happening here either,” Biden said, pointing to what he sees as anti-democratic forces led by former president Donald Trump in the run-up to November’s midterm elections.

Biden said that Chinese leader Xi Jinping had told him “straight up that democracies can’t be sustained in the 21st century”. 

He added: “I don’t want to exaggerate it, but I don’t want to understate it. And it’s the reason why I’m so concerned. Democracy is at stake.”

In the meantime, Italy’s outgoing PM Mario Draghi is set to receive one of Ukraine’s most prestigious awards from President Volodymyr Zelensky, Draghi’s press office said on Thursday.  

Prime minister of Italy Mario Draghi (L) shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky following their meeting in Mariinsky Palace, in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022.

Italy’s outgoing PM is set to receive the prestigious Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise award from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

Draghi told Zelensky that he was “honoured and moved” to be given the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise of the first degree, and “happy to receive it from your hands in Kyiv”, according to Rome’s readout of a phone call between the pair.

Established in 1995 by President Leonid Kuchma, the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, is awarded for services to the state and people of Ukraine. The medal of the order has a blue ribbon with a yellow stripe on each side.

Draghi has been one of the strongest backers of EU sanctions against Russia over the war, and Rome has sent several weapon shipments to help Kyiv.

In its own statement, the Ukrainian presidency’s office said Zelensky had praised Draghi’s role “among the names of political leaders who have supported Ukraine” since the start of Russia’s invasion.

Draghi will have to step down when a new government takes office following last Sunday’s elections, which were won by Giorgia Meloni’s far-right coalition.  

READ ALSO: Italy’s Salvini calls for Europe to ‘rethink’ sanctions on Russia

After her victory, Meloni said Ukraine could count on Italy’s support.   

Despite her former Euroscepticism, the Brothers of Italy leader has firmly backed Draghi’s position thus far. However, her government allies, far-right League leader Matteo Salvini and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, have long had concerning ties with Moscow.   

Member comments

  1. Biden and America just can’t mind their own business can they, haven’t they caused enough trouble the world over, idiots?

  2. Without doubt the most dangerous to anything is Biden, mind your own business and try to get your mental heath back.

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POLITICS

Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.

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