| 10 December 2023, Sunday |

Russia tops agenda on German foreign minister’s Italy trip

In her first visit as foreign minister, Germany’s top diplomat Annalena Baerbock traveled to Rome on Monday. She was set to meet with her Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio to discuss a common European approach to Russia’s provactive actions on its border with Ukraine.

Before she left, the Green party politician praised “like-minded allies in Rome,” with whom Germany could count on to share responsibility on issues ranging from “the climate-neutral restructuring of our economy, to solidarity in the pandemic, to the creation of one European asylum system.”

In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Baerbock assured Italy of support in migration policy, saying that the two countries were “moving in the same direction.” If humanitarian aspects were to be guaranteed on the EU’s external borders, there had to be solidarity and fairness had to be reflected within the bloc, she said.

She also spoke of Russia potentially using the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as a way to coerce Europe into backing down over Ukraine.

“If Putin uses energy as a weapon, we will act together with our European partners,” to counter his threats and ensure EU energy independence, the German foreign minister said.

Later in the day, the pair are set to hold a joint discussion on ecological restructuring in Europe at the Institute for International Affairs in the Italian capital.
Baerbock and Di Maio did meet on the sidelines of a G7 foreign ministers summit in December. Germany currently holds the rotating G7 presidency.