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Support for Ukraine, EU and NATO integration, Odesa restoration: Key points from Italian FM's interview

Support for Ukraine, EU and NATO integration, Odesa restoration: Key points from Italian FM's interview Photo: Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani (Getty Images)

Italy will support Ukraine during its presidency of the Big Seven (G7), predicting when Ukraine will join the European Union is currently impossible, but Rome is optimistic, and the NATO summit in Washington next year will be crucial for Ukraine, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Antonio Tajani.

He said this during the NATO summit at the level of foreign ministers held last week in Brussels. Here are the main points from Tajani's responses:

On the continuation of support for Ukraine

"The priorities of our government remain unchanged: maintaining unwavering support for Ukraine, its people, and its legitimate self-defense, while exerting maximum pressure on Russia to create proper conditions for a serious negotiation process to achieve a just, strong, and comprehensive peace. This means striving for a solution that respects the freedom, sovereign prerogatives, and dignity of Ukraine," said Tajani.

According to the minister, in 2024, during Italy's presidency of the G7, Ukraine and our multifaceted support will be at the top of the agenda.

Furthermore, Tajani expressed admiration for "the courage with which the Ukrainian people continue to fight for the defense of European values ​​of freedom, pluralism, and democracy."

Regarding Italy's assistance to Ukraine and its future plans

"At present, we have provided 7 aid packages in the defense sector and intend to offer further support in this area. Meanwhile, we are negotiating with our Ukrainian counterparts - in coordination with partners and allies - on the terms of our commitments in the field of security and long-term assistance to Ukraine. Italy is also actively involved in military aid within the EU. EU member states have coordinated the delivery of a large amount of military equipment to Ukraine," said the head of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The minister also emphasized the importance of continued financial support for Ukraine and its reconstruction, which will also be a significant focus at the G7 agenda next year, alongside advancing reforms in Ukraine.

"The private sector is also expected to play a key role, particularly in the process of Ukraine's reconstruction, which will form the basis of our future commitments, as in 2025 we will host the Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine," noted Tajani.

According to the minister, Italian assistance to Ukraine also flows through reliable EU channels. Brussels has already allocated 7.2 billion euros in 2022 and 15 billion euros in 2023 for macro-financial assistance programs, with an additional 3 billion euros to be disbursed by the end of 2023.

"Italy will continue to provide comprehensive support to Ukraine as much as necessary, both at the bilateral and multilateral levels, in the political, economic, military, and humanitarian spheres," concluded the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Regarding Ukraine's integration into the EU and NATO

"At this stage, it is impossible to accurately predict when Ukraine will become a member state of the EU. This will depend on the speed at which Ukraine completes alignment with European legislation and standards. However, we are optimistic because the Ukrainian government has demonstrated a strong commitment and determination to take concrete steps forward at a very rapid pace," said the head of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tajani emphasized that Italy has always been at the forefront of supporting Ukraine's European integration and welcomes the European Commission's recommendations to start accession negotiations with Ukraine.

"As for NATO, the next summit in Washington will be crucial. It will further strengthen support for Ukraine from allies as the country continues to defend its territorial integrity, sovereignty, and the inherent right to choose its own security mechanisms. The work of the NATO-Ukraine Council is progressing, and when NATO allies gather in Washington next year, it will be time to assess the results of Ukraine's efforts to enhance compatibility with the North Atlantic Alliance, particularly within the framework of the adapted annual national program. Once the conditions are met and allies agree, we will send Ukraine an invitation to join the Alliance," said Tajani.

Regarding bilateral Ukrainian-Italian relations

"The bilateral relations between Italy and Ukraine have always been close and inspired by genuine friendship and deep connections between our peoples. Until February 2022, Italy hosted one of the largest Ukrainian communities in Europe, and to date, we have provided refuge for more than 170,000 individuals," said Tajani.

According to him, Italy's bilateral assistance to Ukraine exceeds 2 billion euros, including 800 million euros for refugee support, 330 million euros for budget support, and 75 million euros for humanitarian aid. Italy supports both immediate recovery and reconstruction, combining extraordinary measures with long-term efforts.

"In a recent discussion among foreign ministers of the G7+ on Ukraine's energy needs, Italy affirmed its commitment to strengthening Ukraine's energy resilience in the face of winter. I want to emphasize that Italian businesses pay great attention to our support for Ukraine. On April 26, we organized a very successful bilateral conference in Rome involving thousands of companies. In spring, we plan to hold a Business Forum in Kyiv as a mid-term review on the path to the Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine-2025," said Tajani.

Additionally, Italy has taken on the responsibility for the reconstruction of Odessa.

"With this initiative, we aim to leverage Italian and international architectural expertise and our know-how in the protection and restoration of cultural heritage for the reconstruction and transformation of Ukrainian cities," said the head of the Italian-Ukrainian community.