Executive Intelligence Review


EU, Neo-Cons Mobilize To Prevent Italy from Becoming Part of the New Silk Road

March 7, 2019 (EIRNS)—An EU Commission spokesperson issued a statement yesterday, warning the Italian government not to join the Belt and Road, at the same time as trans-Atlantic mainstream media have launched a campaign against Italy’s intention to sign a memorandum with China during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy over March 22-24. The EU Commission statement said, “All member states, individually and in the framework of subregional cooperation schemes such as the 16+1 format, have the responsibility of ensuring compliance with EU rules and EU Law and to respect the unity of the European Union in implementing EU policies.” The 16+1 format refers to the 16 Eastern and Central European countries that are working with China on economic development; 11 of them are EU members, and several others are candidates for EU membership.

What is behind the Commission statement is revealed by the German financial daily Handelsblatt today: “In Paris and Berlin they have a bad suspicion: China is using its economic effort to gain more and more influence on EU political decisions.” The example it gives is Hungary and Greece’s veto of a 2017 statement alleging China’s violations of human rights.

Therefore, Germany and France pushed to have a common EU policy against China on the agenda, which will be discussed at the March 21 EU summit, one day before President Xi’s arrival in Rome. The discussion is expected to be a “lively” one.

Handelsblatt worries that, “With Italy, China will possibly get for the first time a founding member of the EU and a member of the Group of the Seven (G7) major industrial nations for its giant enterprise.” Handelsblatt cites the input of Undersecretary of Economic Development Michele Geraci and the fact that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in April. The first Belt and Road Forum in May 14-15, 2017 was attended by some three dozen heads of state and government and heads of international institutions, and over 1,200 delegations from various countries.

The New York Times joined its international media fellows in the campaign against Italy, writing a March 6 article entitled, “Italy May Split with Allies and Open Its Ports to China’s Building Push,” focused on Geraci. Interestingly, the Times coverage includes a photo of the port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy, which nobody—except EIR and some friends—has mentioned, so far, in the context of the Belt and Road.

The anti-Belt and Road campaign offered an occasion for traitors in the Italian government to come forward, such as Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Guglielmo Picchi, who tweeted that he believes, “there is still work to do and further reflections inside the government” and that “at this point no memorandum should be signed” on the Belt and Road. Picchi is a former investment banker with Barclays in London, a product of Bocconi University, and went from Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to the Lega in 2018.