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Recommended The foreign policy of Gianni De Michelis

The foreign policy of Gianni De Michelis

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If, as I hope, the future time will host other initiatives - this time of study and study - on the analysis of foreign policy conceived, developed and coordinated by Gianni de Michelis, much more than today's will be the space that will have to be dedicated to deepening of a theme as vast as the cultural need, that is rational and dreamer at the same time, of the socialist intellectual at the service of the Republic, who wanted to transform his Venetianity into a planetary space of action.

Today, as is right, it will be good to concentrate on a crucial period of contemporary history which roughly coincides with the three-year period that saw Gianni at the Farnesina; not forgetting, of course, how much his government commitment as Minister of State Participations, of Labor and of Deputy Prime Minister has left a more than evident mark in Italy's European and foreign policy.

There is for everyone a magical moment in life, it lasts an indefinite time: a moment, weeks, a stretch of years. It is time without measure, which occupies the space of common memory and vivifies its own. That moment released in De Michelis the creative energy of a business model that still fascinates Italian diplomacy today.

The tradition, never denied in the First Republic, and sometimes forgotten in those strange constitutionally unassisted procreation that called themselves Second, Third or Second Second Republics, reserved the post of Foreign Minister almost always to a former Prime Minister or, however, to a recognized parliamentary leader. It was the case of Saragat and Nenni.

The very age of the foreign ministers forced the undersecretaries to do an important job outside the country. De Michelis, with a bit of initial scandal in the high hierarchy, instead understood his work as that of an effective "head of diplomacy".

His direct participation in meetings, even informal meetings, soon became proverbial and the ability to extricate himself from complex and different dossiers was soon seen with admiration and complacency by world governments, especially the European ones.

The English language practiced by De Michelis was essential and understandable, to the great joy of his interlocutors, who did not have to follow labyrinthine intellectual paths to understand what the head of diplomacy of the sixth world power meant.

If, apparently, Demichelisian pragmatism did not add anything new to Italian foreign policy, as it had been designed first by De Gasperi and then with the center left by Fanfani / Moro and Nenni / Saragat and Craxi, undoubtedly Gianni has strongly characterized his government commitment by method , effectiveness and competence.

Accompanying, many years after his ministerial commitment, De Michelis in Kuwait, I had the opportunity to see how it remained unchanged after the 90 war - for which much had been spent to ensure Italian participation - sympathy, interest and gratitude for Italy and for its personality not only of the sovereign emir, but of the area's political and economic leadership in general. Without the mediation of linguistic purposes, the interventions of the former minister, at that time president of IPALMO, were greatly appreciated for the clear indication of a policy that already at the time posed the problem of the bet supported by the ideological manifesto of liberalism, drawn up by Fukuyama, according to which the triumph of liberal democracy represented with the "End of History" the exclusive and "perpetual" maintenance of the "Museum of the History of Humanity", where economic calculation, the technical solution of problems, including that of needs sophisticated consumers would replace universal ideological struggle, courage, audacity and idealism.

That voracious reader and scholar who was De Michelis had identified, in a little read paragraph of the essay The End of History and the Last Man, published in Italian as "The end of history and the last man", a message escaped some. Fukuyama claimed, in fact, that "this (end of history) does not in any way imply the end of international conflicts as such. In this regard, in fact, this contribution should be divided between the historical part and the post historical part. Conflicts may continue to exist between states that "are still in history" and states that "have reached the end of history" ".

In Kuwait City, in a land as rich as it is sparsely inhabited, at the center of a network of economic, financial and tribal networks that strategically affect the balance of the world, De Michelis, a champion of method and competence, posed the problem of how unipolarity needed regional coordination frameworks in continuous dialogue with each other to defuse the mine of conflicts between states "inside" and "outside" history. Thinking about it today, there is a thrill in imagining the terrorist and financial catastrophe foreseen by De Michelis, even if everyone was alarmed after the attacks of 11 September 2001, which had paved the way for the war on terrorism, in the absence of a global and multilateral strategy .

Yes, multilateral. Which leads us to reflect on a perfect, continuous, adherence by De Michelis to the guidelines of Italian, multilateral, Europeanist, strictly Atlantic defense policy, logically coordinated with US foreign policy and very attentive to Germany, with which Rome in the 80s and 90s he shared much more than our country had linked to the French Republic, which makes clear the sense of disillusionment that many of Chancellor Merkel's Euroscial initiative has created.

Between 1989 and 1992, in the third and fourth government of the tenth legislature, the world was shaken by extraordinary events: the revolt of the Baltic countries, the Polish crisis provoked by Solidarność; the fall of the iron curtain on the Austro-Hungarian border, when the double barbed wire barrier, which for decades had been the symbol of tension and mistrust between East and West, was dismantled on May 3 in Hegyeshalom, Koeszeg, Ohszeg, Szentgotthard and Sopron, along the 345 km border between Austria and Hungary; the demolition of the Berlin wall; and again, again in 1989, on December 1990st, Gorbachev met John Paul II. During that meeting, the Soviet Union and the Holy See laid the foundation stone for establishing diplomatic relations. The parliamentary elections in Romania in 20, on May 1989th. It was the first electoral round of the democratic era, organized just over five months after the success of the 1946 Romanian revolution; the first free elections since 1990 in Czechoslovakia, which were held in June 95, without incident and with more than XNUMX% turnout.

Also in 1990, German reunification - made possible by the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the unexpected three-stage project launched by Chancellor Helmut Kohl a few days after that historic event - allowed to revive the idea of ​​the European Union.

French President François Mitterrand feared the reconstruction of a strong and militarized Germany and was among the promoters of an acceleration of European integration that inevitably bound the German government in an integrated Europe.

It is from this moment that attention must be fixed on the powerful and fast ride that Foreign Minister De Michelis imposed on a Western Europe still in shock due to the succession of events that, country after country, freed entire populations from the heavy yoke of dictatorship and of misery.

The commitment to build a European political union was formally re-launched at the extraordinary European Council in Dublin on 28 April 1990. The second Dublin Council, this time ordinary, was held in the following June and it was decided, on that occasion by majority vote, to convene a new Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), such as the one that approved the Single European Act in 1987, which he would start work on political union in December. Between July and December 1990 the rotating presidency passed to Italy.

The second European Council in Rome, chaired by De Michelis, opened on 14 December to discuss the reports that the Foreign Ministers had drawn up on the political union. Fundamental decisions were reached on strengthening the powers of the European Parliament, European citizenship, the principle of subsidiarity, the common area of ​​security and justice. The mandate of the IGC was thus definitively clarified through what was then called the Three Pillars policy.

De Michelis immediately noted and reported to President Andreotti, Cossiga and Craxi that the IGC on political union was dominated by a high confusion of proposals: the European Commission proposed that the Union replace the existing Communities and be the owner of the policy foreign and security; France and Germany supported the federalist hypothesis and pressed to accelerate common defense by transforming WEU into the armed wing of the Union, also within NATO; The United Kingdom and the Netherlands opposed the idea that they were worried about a weakening of the Atlantic Alliance; Spain in a memorial called for the strengthening of economic development policies by proposing a substantial increase in the structural funds to ensure effective development of the less advanced regions. The Spanish government therefore stressed the need to think more about economic than political integration.

Then, just to help, the current president, the Luxembourg premier Jacques Santer, presented - without apparent formal consultations - a draft Treaty which he himself called a compromise, with which he proposed that the future European Union should be composed of "three pillars" :

  1. the European Community: it would have incorporated the ECSC, EEC and EAEC.
  2. in Foreign and Common Security Policy the Santander project supported Anglo-Dutch ideas more than Franco-German defense ideas.
  3. home affairs and justice became a pillar in its own right.

Santer did not intend to give up the idea of ​​a future federal Europe, a word that returned to an official text for the first time since the XNUMXs. It was precisely this element, probably, that led the subsequent Dutch presidency to present a surprise second draft Treaty, when Santer's had been considered the essential starting point for the discussion. The three-pillar structure was replaced by a total incorporation of new policies in the EEC, while any federalist autonomy in the defensive field was excluded, as European security would remain part of NATO's strategies. The project did not get the support of the main European countries - including Italy - and was short-lived: the design of three pillars was thus fixed.

For a long moment the possibility arose of a failure of the IGC and the beginning of a dramatic weakening of the European structures precisely when the new democracies of the Eastern countries were asking for economic help and political support.

The time had come for courage and inventiveness. Everyone recognized Italy and especially those who led the diplomatic team, De Michelis, the great merit of having found the way out of the impasse. De Michelis thus gained a place in European and Western history.

It is recognized that without the work of De Michelis, supported by Genscher, in Maastricht on 9 December 1991 the historic European Council would not have given birth to the new Treaty.

De Michelis was not at all convinced of the excellence of the Luxembourg plan, but he demonstrated his extraordinary qualities of pragmatism and in agreement with the German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (an authentic German institution, foreign minister continuously from 1974 to 1992, with (a short two-week break in 1982) preferred to support, by improving, the Three Pillar proposal rather than further dismiss the ever-difficult European political union.

On the first day, the last knots on economic and monetary union were resolved: by January 1, 1999, the third stage of the calendar would begin, with the introduction of the single currency. It was more difficult to overcome British opposition to this solution and to social issues. Thus was established the opting-out clause through which Great Britain could have remained in the future European Union without accepting the innovations that its government had rejected. Thus was born for the first time the idea of ​​a two-speed Europe. An idea, that of the double speed that years later would have been used fully by Chirac and Amato in the Council of Nice (president of the Commission being Romano Prodi).

For the CFSP (common foreign and security policy), the "future" will to accept a common defense was accepted and it was established that the rule of unanimity would remain in force on general foreign policy decisions, "unless" adopt the majority for "enforcement decisions".

In this way the negotiations ended, on February 7, 1992, the Treaty on European Union was signed in the Dutch town, which since then would have been known as the Maastricht Treaty. It included 252 new articles, 17 protocols and 31 declarations.

The European Union thus created was built on the three pillars of the Santer project, filed and modified by diplomatic work. One "pillar" was stronger than the others, the one known as the "European Community" (EC, replacing the EEC), the only one with a federal character compared to the other two - on CFSP and internal affairs - of an intergovernmental nature. The Union has a single institutional framework in that its institutions are common to all three pillars; in addition to the canonical ones, the European Council was officially recognized as a political development body.

However, the European Union remained an anomalous structure in that it lacked legal personality and own resources, apart from those of the EEC which it could not have had however.

De Michelis, head of Italian diplomacy, a man of method and of enormous expenditure of energy and intelligence was, according to the Americans, "effective", "effective"; according to the British, who somewhat envied him, he was flamboyant, flamboyant.

Despite his well-known and prescient interest in China, he devoted most of his activity as minister to three areas: a) the North West, the European Union, and the USA; b) the North East, with particular reference to the Quadrangular; c) the Mediterranean.

He was an uncomfortable but loyal politician and as such well regarded by true allies and alleged friends.

He never forgot to link the national and European interest to that of his land, which he loved deeply.

I remember for years that he claimed that the "European role of Friuli Venezia Giulia is currently zero", where "currently" is a purely rhetorical figure, which I myself listened to before 1989 and well after 2000.

Already at the end of the 80s, De Michelis believed that Friuli Venezia Giulia was, was to be, the "nerve center of Europe". For De Michelis too many occasions had been wasted compared to the possibilities offered before and after the demolition of the Berlin wall.

"Then we thought of an extraordinary perspective for the Italian Northeast, which we believed to be destined by nature to become the heart of the new Europe - explained De Michelis -. The day after the fall of the Wall we signed that Quadrangle whose effectiveness has now been reduced to an Ince (Central European initiative) which is only a pale representation of the potential contained in the project of the time ».

Since the late 70s, De Michelis says, the idea of ​​a Barcelona-Trieste-Kiev axis was born. "But even of that intuition - he continues - very little has been done. In recent years, Northeast policy in this area has been disastrous, in a bipartisan way. The most striking example is that of Corridor 5, codified in '95 and never built. The creation of the Mestre bypass was only a few months ago, while the infrastructure is non-existent at railway level ».

Gianni had identified in the infrastructural criticality of the system the basic criticality in the deficit of essential working tools for a true economic and, why not, cultural integration between Italy and central-eastern Europe.

The destructuring of the forward-looking Alpe Adria initiative, born as a laboratory for the future EU enlargement process, was fatal.

The opinions on the effectiveness of the Euroregion were always divergent, aggravated over time by the division of the former Yugoslavia, which completely changed the status of Slovenia and Croatia, from regions to states.

While most local politicians failed to indicate concrete solutions to bring the Northeast back to the center of Europe, combining European, Balkan and Mediterranean interests together, the educated professor of chemistry, educated at the strict secular political school and reformer of the The Goliardic Union argued that the exit from the tunnel was only possible by investing in infrastructure and changing the territorial structure of the Northeast through the creation of a metropolitan area that extended from Trieste to Venice. "But we must move immediately - Gianni always concluded - or once again Ljubljana will beat us on time". And he worked hard, even as a member of the European Parliament, so that Corridor 5, which from Barcelona was to extend to Kiev, passed through Italy and involved the whole of Veneto and Trieste.

I now thank Giampaolo Sodano who directs our "Moondo" and the Pietro Nenni Foundation, chaired by Carlo Fiordaliso and the whole UIL, starting with his Secretary General Barbagallo and the Deputy Secretary General Bombardieri, who wanted to dedicate time and effort to allow the realization of a day of studies and reflections (difficult work, crowned with success, at the Teatro dei Servi in ​​Rome on November 19, 2019, an occasion on which I gave a speech from which I took a large part of this article). We have been allowed to honor Gianni and Italian socialism and I hope that, with the same passionate and cultured pragmatism of De Michelis, it is still possible to encourage ever more in-depth studies on our socialist heroes, on the extraordinary policies of Italian socialism.

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