Remarks at CSIS by Prime Minister Gentiloni of Italy during his visit to Washington
April 20, 2017
JOHN J. HAMRE: I’m glad to have everybody here. I mean, this is great to have you here, to a very wonderful event on a beautiful day.
My name is John Hamre. I’m the president at CSIS.
Whenever we have public events, we always start with a little safety announcement. I am responsible for everybody’s safety, so I’m going to take care of you. If anything happens, I’d ask you to follow my directions. I’m first going to make sure that we get the prime minister safe, OK? But he’s got a lot of guys here to help him with that, and so I will be primarily worried about you. If we do have to leave, these doors right behind us are the exit to go down to the street. We’ll go down to the street, take two left, we’ll meet across the street in the courtyard for National Geographic, I will order ice cream, and we’ll sign a song of praise for our salvation, OK? (Laughter.) So don’t worry, just – but follow my instructions if we have to do anything.
It’s a real privilege to have you here today. All of you, I think, got a little card when you came in, and the purpose of that card is for you to write questions if you want them. So if you have a question, you want to write it down. Let me tell you we’re only going to entertain questions about foreign policy, so if you want to ask about what’s going on in North Umbria don’t bother; we’re not going to read your question. But we are going to look at all the questions that we get on foreign policy, so I’d ask you to think about that. I’ll start off a little bit with a couple of questions, but we’d like to hear from all of you.
We have one thing we have to do. We’re going to end about five minutes early because there’s a fairly significant press corps from Italy that’s here with the delegation. So I’m going to tell all the Italian press, when we end, I’m going to escort the prime minister out. I want you to meet over there in that corner. We’re going to have a scrum, and then we’ll bring the prime minister back to you, OK? So if you’re with the Italian press and they like you, you can go over to the scrum, all right? Let’s plan on doing that.
I’m very proud to be able to welcome the prime minister. He’s a – I really just met him for the first time yesterday – remarkable man. He’s got a marvelous sense of humor, tremendous vision for what Europe needs and what Italy needs at this time. It’s going to be a very good thing for us. He’s meeting, of course, this afternoon with President Trump, and they’re going to be talking primarily about getting ready for the G-7 summit in Sicily. So we get a little bit of an advance today to hear what’s happening.
So would you, with your warm applause, please welcome the prime minister of Italy, Prime Minister Gentiloni? (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER PAOLO GENTILONI: Grazie. Thank you very much. Good afternoon. Thank you very much. President Hamre, ladies and gentlemen, I’m really honored to be here. My topic is security in the Mediterranean as a cornerstone of global stability. I’ll give you a few comments, don’t worry, and then I’m very happy to have a conversation answering to your question.
We all know that the Mediterranean plays a central role in human history in general. The sea in between the lands has favored the rise and flourishing of some among the most advanced and significant civilizations since ancient times – Egypt, Greece, Rome, to name but a few. It has witnessed the birth and spread of the three monotheistic religions, which are still the most influential in the world today. Over the centuries, it has preserved its long-standing character of a political, economic, social, and cultural crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and between east and west and between north and south.
As such it continues to exert a fundamental influence on human societies. In the last few years, however, the greater Mediterranean area has increasingly come to be associated with waves of chaos, fragmentation, volatility, and loss of life. These waves are hitting the European shores. And they entail consequences on a global scale. How to mitigate the storm is a fundamental question that requires a comprehensive answer. Until recently, too many Europeans have been living under the illusion that they could separate their destiny from the Mediterranean and from the crisis originating from this region. It was a mistake.
Massive migration flows from Africa to Europe, widespread instability, and/or open conflict, increasing terrorist threats against Western targets and interest, new conflicts with a religious basis or excuse – these issues have been confronting our governments and societies for some years now. And if not adequately addressed, may imperil the very core of the Western political model founded on democracy, pluralism, and market economy.
Italy is committed to tackle the root causes of these challenges, but we have to do it all together. From our perspective, these challenges correspond to a set of priorities that I would like to discuss with you. One, effectively managing migration flows coming into Europe. Two, stabilizing areas of crisis in the Middle East and Africa. Three, succeeding in the fight against terrorist, and in particularly eradicating Daesh. We all know that to address these challenges, reaffirming the centrality and robustness of the transatlantic bond between America and Europe is of the essence. We can’t do without this.
Italy, as a key international security provider, is assuring a significant contribution to counter terrorism. We are present in several international missions with over 7,000 military engaged with NATO, the EU, or the United Nations. We are the second troop contributing nation in Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan – after the United States, obviously. At the same time, we must have the capacity and wisdom to address the lack of economic perspective in many regions around the Mediterranean, by actively promoting development and social inclusiveness.
This falls into the priorities of the current Italian G-7 presidency, which focuses, among other things, on management of human mobility, stability in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa region, inclusive growth, education, prevention of terrorism. Indeed, the Mediterranean should be perceived also as an important market with measured growth potential. Consequently, gradual integration of the economies of the region, which is very low at the moment, should be pursued as a means to boost growth and job creation in the entire Euro-Mediterranean region. In this process, besides the regional partners, other major actors are involved, starting from the Gulf countries, sub-Saharan Africa, and extra-regional players.
I will now go into the details of the three sets of priorities outlined before, which currently mark the Mediterranean region. One, managing the dramatic increase in migration flows from Africa to Europe. This, as you know, is of the essence for Italy. The figures are impressive. Around 500,000 migrants were saved from that at sea from the Italian Navy and Coast Guard, and by European rescue teams over the last three years – 500,000. This dramatic situation requires renewed efforts and a short- and long-term perspective. Indeed, there is space for a more vigorous international engagement, based on a reinforced American and European, and particularly Italian, leadership aimed at stabilizing the states of the Southern Mediterranean.
In the short term, more balanced burden sharing among European Union countries, and more efficient control systems on arrival are fundamental, combined with more effective identification return mechanism. At the same time, long-term policies should be promoted to foster stabilization and economic development in countries of origin and transit. This is the idea behind the Italian proposal for the migration compact, launched by the European Union last year, which should be upheld and broadened in scope. This idea has been the basis for the agreement I have signed last February with the Libyan President Sarraj, as well as for the one I have concluded with the President of Niger Issoufou. It is also at the origin of the inclusive approach we are promoting with regional partners in view of the G-7 Taormina summit.
Second, we should continue to address the broader political and security challenges coming from areas of crisis around the Mediterranean. Libya remains on top of our priorities. In this country, where more evident have been the mistakes of our past lack of vision, the clearer should now be our common engagement. I deem that upholding joint Italy-U.S. leadership is not only an opportunity, but a political must. Indeed, over the – over these last years, we have achieved results together, both in terms of advancing – slowly advancing the political process, and in the fight against Daesh in Libya. An inclusive political process could be safeguard for the unity of the country, to the benefit of all Libyans, as well as of the entire region.
The major crisis in the Mediterranean is Syria, obviously. Now it is going through its seventh year of horrific violence. Italy looks at the renewed U.S. engagement as an opportunity to bring new momentum to the political process and to find a durable solution to the Syrian drama, also by encouraging a more constructive approach from Russia. Italy will continue to work closely with the like-minded partners and allies to foster a political solution.
Third, the fight against terror and Daesh. The multidimensional approach implemented by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria and Iraq is proving effective. And this year could be the year of the defeat of Daesh in the control of territory. Our strategy should continue to insist on the military campaign, as well as in counternarrative, increased exchanges among relevant intelligence agencies, deradicalization, contrast to financial networks. To be successful, cooperation with regional actors remains key, as well as with local Muslim communities inside our boundaries. Radicalization in these communities has been at the origin of some of the bloodiest terrorist actions. The horrific acts of violence we have witnessed over the years have been carried out very often by Islamist elements who were born, raised, and became radicalized in Europe. They did not arrive from outside our borders.
Ladies and gentlemen, we need to cooperate to contain conflicts and to better manage crisis. At the same time, however, we should start – at least start working at the definition of a new order for this region that exerts such a profound influence on global order. Some sort of new Peace of Westphalia or some sort of a Helsinki Agreement for the Mediterranean have sometimes been suggested. The limits of tracing such ambitious historical parallelism are evident. Nevertheless, I believe that the consciousness that should guide us in this process has very much in common with the spirit that led the way to ending the wars of region in Europe and, during the last century, to overcoming the Cold War.
I am profoundly convinced that there are a number of possible and necessary steps that we have to take, implementing measures of mutual trust, following a multilateral and comprehensive approach to conflict resolution, recognition of borders, fostering interreligious dialogue, enhancing economic cooperation in a perspective of joint exploitation of natural resources, from water to natural gas. Italy is determined to give a decisive contribution to this path. And I am confident that through our joint efforts we can make difference in reaffirming the role and the perception of the Mediterranean as a region of renewed opportunities and visions, and as a solid cornerstone of global stability.
Thank you for your attention. (Applause.)
MR. HAMRE: Prime Minister, thank you. Oh. Thank you very much, Prime Minister. It was – you answered a lot of questions and you posed a lot of questions. And I would like to have a chance just to follow up a bit. You did talk about the tragedy in Syria. And it has been dreadful. And of course, it’s burned so long that it becomes the foundation of this migration problem from the east. You said that you were prepared to be active. What do you think is the political strategy here? We’re going after Daesh. But what is the political strategy that you think could work to bring some sort of a reconciliation process in Syria?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Well, two things. One, our assessment on the initiative that was ordered by President Trump a few days ago was that the initiative was a motivated response to the use of chemical weapons. It was a clear message to Bashar. And I think it was the right thing to do. This doesn’t mean, from our point of view, that we can imagine a military solution of the Syrian crisis.
So for many years, the discussion was: Should we have negotiation with Bashar al-Assad at the table? Frankly speaking, Italy has always said that this idea was perhaps realistic. The idea to avoid any negotiation before a regime change was effectively – was in fact unrealistic. So now, time has come, I think, for a real negotiation. What was then after the chemical attack was also a clear message to Assad that he is not the only actor of this scene and that he has to go to negotiation with the Syrian opposition. The Western position should be very clear on this. We need negotiation that during the negotiation for sure we will have a change. Assad cannot be the man of the future of the country. But we should start negotiation with the relevant forces – the regime and the opposition.
We need also to have a constructive role of Russia in this kind of story. That will have no alternative. The idea that there is a military – there is a military solution in Raqqa, but there is not a military solution in Damascus. There is a political solution to get rid of this regime, not a military one.
MR. HAMRE: Do you think we can get to a political path through the Geneva process, or do you think we need something new?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: This is difficult to say now. But my opinion is it is always better to avoid abandoning a path that you have if you don’t have clearly in mind an alternative. So now we are all supporting, I think, the fact that the negotiation cannot be the – a stand-up process. The negotiation should be the one under the flag of the United Nations. Then if we have new initiative, new idea, then they are welcome. But this is now the point, everybody should stay at this point: Real negotiation between the regime and the opposition with the United Nations – under the United Nations flag.
MR. HAMRE: And can – you see – do you see Italy playing a lead role in helping – obviously the United Nations is going to turn to a subset of countries in kind of a contact group format. Do you see Italy playing a lead role here?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Yes. Italy’s – there is a – there is a Syria – when I was referring in my comments to this utopia of the sort of Helsinki spirit for the Middle East, I was mentioning the fact that we have some multilateral formats that are trying to address this situation of crisis. And in Syria, we have both a meeting of countries like-minded, and then we tried a format involving also Russia. The results were mixed, frankly speaking. I think in some moments they appeared a good one, ceasefire. But it was even difficult to name the ceasefire, ceasefire. We were forced to name the ceasefire end of the hostilities because someone didn’t want the name ceasefire.
So it was a very difficult exercise. Italy is contributing to this process, both in the likeminded group and in the Syrian crisis group. Our specific contribution can also, I think, be the fact that being a Mediterranean country we have several links from different point of view. Just to give you an example, we hosted in Italy several moments of interreligious dialogue with the Syrian church – which, by the way, is in some ways supporting the regime. But – well, it is not the fundamental channel, but it is a contribution that we host and was very interesting.
MR. HAMRE: Could I shift south? You mentioned Libya, obviously. You know and understand Libya so much better than Americans do. We are – we’re rather detached. You said we have to make this a focus. I mean, this is – if we’re going to solve the migration problem from Africa, it’s going to have to be with a solution in Libya. How – are you optimistic about where things are trending right now in Libya?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Well, optimistic is a strong word. But we are, I think, committed and realistic on the possibility to have some further step forwards. Why we are so committed? We are so committed for two reason. One is that we have some responsibilities – not only the historical one, as Italians, but also the more recent one, as Western countries, the intervention of six years ago, which evidently was an intervention lacking a vision, a perspective for the future.
So we are committed because of our responsibilities. We are committed because of our geopolitical interests. Ninety-seven percent of migrants arriving in Italy – which is now, since eight, nine months the greater flow of migrants arriving in Europe after the closing of the so-called Balkan route – are coming from Libya. So stabilizing Libya is fundamental. One, to avoid Daesh defeated in other areas, to go there and use Libya to destabilize Egypt and Tunisia and to, perhaps, put – threaten Europe. Second, for disrupting smugglers and human traffickers. And, third, because Libya is a country that has in itself the possibility to reach a stability.
There is an enormous fragmentation of tribes and local powers, but there is not a fundamental shift and fight against, for example, Sunni and Shia –
MR. HAMRE: Yeah. Cleavages, yeah.
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: No, there are many cleavages. But local, fragmented tribes, they are all Sunnis, they are all Arabs. So this is a fundamental basis to reach an agreement.
Our position is that Italian and U.S. action is absolutely crucial because we can exercise leadership, we can strengthen the dialogue and the stabilization process. We can avoid to transform Libya in a new theater for competition of external powers, both regional and global, which is a risk. Until now, it is not a reality. There is a at least formal consensus on the support of the Tripoli government. But we all know that this is not forever. So now is the moment for U.S. and Italy to work together to stabilize the situation, enlarge the support to the Tripoli government, to other actors. And – this is mostly an Italian job – to disrupt smugglers, traffickers, and reduce the migration flows, which we are trying to do with I think a good response from the Tripoli authorities. It will be a process, but interesting.
MR. HAMRE: If I may just – how do you interpret Russia’s recent kind of engagement in Libya? Is this a positive thing, from your standpoint? Or are you worried about it?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: I am worried of the risk of transforming Libya in a place of confrontation, both confrontation between different Sunni regional powers one against the other, and second confrontation between global actors. To be clearer, I don’t think that the division of Libya in two different parts, one more – nearer to Egypt and the other one more Islamic, so to say, I don’t think it is a good idea because this could bring further destabilization and further external intervention. So we have to involve all the actors – General Haftar, President Aguila. All the one that are not supporting the Tripoli government should be pressed to go onboard, but without accepting the idea that the division of Libya is a good idea. It is not a good idea. The consequences will be dangerous for Egypt, dangerous for Tunisia, and for the interests of Europe.
MR. HAMRE: I’m going to take one last question and then, Heather, you hand me any that you have.
Let me ask you, we’re going to have the first of an important election in France here in a couple of days. We’ve had Brexit. We’ve had this very, you know, unsteady – we’ve got – nationalist forces are louder, at least; I don’t know how much stronger, but they’re certainly louder. What is your vision of the future of the EU? Are you worried about the EU? Or do you feel that this is just America, we’re too far away from it and a little too paranoid about it?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: No, I think that everybody is worried about Europe and EU. How could you avoid to be worried?
We had in the last couple of years a sort of perfect storm – Brexit, migration, the consequences of economic crisis in several countries. So keep high the attention on what happens. The next elections will be key. But at the same time, I think – and this is very important for the American point of view and America could also play a role in this sense – we should never forget what EU is, an extraordinary success story, because if we were able to maintain peace, to have freedom for Spain, Portugal, Greece, and then for the communist countries, welfare, free trade, this is Europe.
So in our past experience always Europe reacted to its more difficult moments with a positive reaction. Will we be able to have a positive reaction also after Brexit and in this situation? I am not pessimistic.
So we had a ceremony one month ago in Rome celebrating the 60 years of the treaties. And I was very impressed by the fact that the different 27 head of state and government from Poland to Greece, with very different views in several problems, committed themselves to a view of Europe for the next 10 years, and even accepted for the first time the idea of different level of integration within the EU – which, from my point of view, is a strategic idea if we want to go forward.
So I am worried, as everyone should be, but I am optimistic on the capacity of reaction of the European Union. We have to change many things – on migration, on economy – because if we don’t change the perception of too many citizens towards Europe will become more and more negative. So we have to change at least on economy and migration a few relevant things.
MR. HAMRE: If you’ll permit a personal observation, I think the coherence of the EU is America’s most important defense interest, strategic interest. We have to have the EU come through this turmoil, and stronger. And I think your leadership will be very important for that, Prime Minister.
Let me ask – there are a couple of very good questions we’ve received so far. First, are you satisfied with the level of intelligence cooperation between Italy and the United States, especially as it regards the Mediterranean?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Yes. I have to say that we are satisfied. Sharing intelligence and cooperating in intelligence is a very delicate issue, obviously. It is very difficult to do this in multilateral formats. So it’s a sort of bilateral-bilateral-bilateral going on. But it works, and especially it works between Italy and the United States on the Mediterranean.
MR. HAMRE: Thank you. Talk about Turkey, which is becoming a more complicated neighbor for Europe. What do you – how do you interpret this last election? Do you think it leads towards more stability? Or are you concerned that the instability within Turkey could open up problems again, especially of migration issues?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: It depends on how the Turkish government and the Turkish leadership will react to the referendum, because if they react taking into account the fact that – I’m not discussing now the legitimacy and these stories – but also taking for granted the legitimacy of the elections, you have half of the country voting in a different way, and half of the country mostly concentrated in the more modern and urban areas. So how do you react to this? I think it’s not an Italian problem, it’s a Turkish problem. But looking at it from a European perspective, I hope that the reaction will be an inclusive one and not a reaction tending to exclude half of the population that voted against. If you have an inclusive process, you can have, I think, also a decent relation with EU.
I’ve always been against strong wording: we have to close the door in the fact to Turkey. But, obviously, we have red lines – sorry to say this, but we have red lines. One is the death penalty, for the EU negotiation. Two are many other issues connected to the visa request that is very important for Turkey. So no propaganda against, but we need an inclusive process and we need the respect of fundamental rules.
We have also in these days a discussion in my country because a blogger, a journalist is imprisoned in Turkey. I do hope that the problem will be rapidly solved. But this is one of hundreds of examples of the fact that we need a commitment on our fundamental principles by Turkey.
MR. HAMRE: One of our colleagues here starts off by saying congratulations to Italy for your development aid increases. And could you amplify? You talked about development as being the long-term solution to the migration problem. Could you give us a little more detail about what – how you see development being as part of that strategy, how you think the European Union can reinforce that?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Well, European Union is doing a lot on development aid. In my judgment on European policies, I would say good on development aid. We can always do better. Not so good in migration policies. Because, obviously, migration policies need short-term, middle-term, and long-term intervention.
Europe is rather strong on long term – so investment in public aid. And I’m proud of the fact that the Italian government in the last two or three years augmented the public aid to development in a very significant way. But at the same time, we need short- and mid-term initiative to curb migration, and there we are not so – because we have to be clear, this public aid to development will contribute to solve the migration flow in 15, 20, 25 years, not in three months. And the task that governments have in Europe is to defeat smugglers and traffickers, and manage the migration flow now – in the next months – not waiting 20 years of the effect of the development aid.
So this is a very good European commitment. I’m proud of the Italian one. But please don’t forget that we need also short- and medium-term initiative if we are dealing with migration.
MR. HAMRE: Do you anticipate – another question – do you anticipate that development would be part of the G-7 discussions that you’ll be having in Sicily?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Yes. We have also invited five or six of the major African leaders, from Nigeria to Morocco, from Tunisia to Kenya, just to give the message that Africa is absolutely relevant. And not only for us European; we can’t consider Africa as the second Chinese continent. I have nothing against the fact that China is investing a lot in Africa. I am only saying that we should do perhaps our part more strongly. This is the reason why we want to involve the leaders of the seven major free-market economy in the discussion with African leaders.
MR. HAMRE: Some say to make a transition from aid to trade – you know, in many ways getting economies moving – that was the core of NAFTA. And in NAFTA here, we’ve had more Mexicans leaving the United States to go back home over the last five years than have come. So, I mean, it does hold true, your vision of having economic growth in this area as a reason for people to want to stay.
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Absolutely. It will be, as it was for Mexico, a process. It is not something –
MR. HAMRE: It’s a process. Twenty-five years.
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Yes. But who will be the partner of this process? I think that Europe and U.S. should be partners, as China. And we can’t forget this continent. They will have 2 billion inhabitants in 2040, and 2040 is tomorrow. And they have enormous resources, but a very complicated level of services. There are enormous potentialities. For example, renewable energies in Africa, is agriculture, food security.
We had a(n) international expo in Milan in 2015 that was concentrated on food security, and it was very interesting how Africa is growing in its role. We have so many problems with Africa. But please keep Africa on top of our agenda. This would be the message that we will give to President Trump and President Gentiloni, and Mrs. –
MR. HAMRE: Yeah, yeah. It’s very important for us to hear this.
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: – Mrs. May, the new French president, and President Trudeau in –
MR. HAMRE: In Canada.
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: – and Mrs. Merkel in Sicily.
MR. HAMRE: I’m going to rephrase this question just a little bit to sharpen the focus. Italy has historically had good relations with Russia. Right now we have – things are pretty bad here. What would be your counsel to us about looking at Russia? It’s a complex problem, its interests, its passions, et cetera. How would – what would you be telling us how we should rethink Russia at this time?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Well, I think that we were right in reacting to what happened in Ukraine. And I’m telling this knowing that for Italy it was a difficult choice because Italy and Germany were the two economies affected by sanctions, counter-sanctions, more than the others. But it was the right decision.
I gave you my assessment on the initiative in Syria. We don’t have to show weakness, because this would be a mistake, absolutely. So we have to keep our unity and not show weakness. But at the same time, if we are united and if we don’t show weakness, we have to engage Russia.
The idea that isolating Russia is productive from my point of view is not completely accurate on the history, psychology, and nature of – I wouldn’t say even the actual government, but Russia in general. We have several example in history that Russia, when he’s attacked, reacts with an enormous national –
MR. HAMRE: Energy.
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: – proud and energy. And when you engage Russia, they show their weakness because, unfortunately, their economy is very weak.
So what happened in the ’80s is very interesting. We should study what happened in the ’80s. It was the lesson of Ronald Reagan, I think.
MR. HAMRE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll just take a few more.
What would – if you were to – the day after your G-7 summit, what would you – what would you decide would make it successful? What do you want from the summit and would be a success, from your leadership standpoint for this round?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Well, you know, my impression is that it is fundamental – it’s not a psychological meeting, but it is fundamental to reach a sense of unity among these so relevant countries. Well, it is always important, but it is specifically important this time because many of the leaders are changed. Someone will change in the next 10 days. So if you look to the – to the seven at the table, I think that only one or two are – have previous experience of this kind of meeting. So you have to show a good consensus among these leaders because this is fundamental in the world today.
If we avoid to consider the role of the leaders of the free market economies in the world today, I think that we make a very serious mistake. So this format, as we call it in diplomatic language, is crucial in this moment. We have a lot of discussion on trade, a lot of discussion on relation with Russia, a lot of discussion on relation with China. These countries should be united in confronting with these issues, and this is an opportunity. You are there for 24, 36 hours, having several meetings in closed doors, only the leaders. It is useful.
MR. HAMRE: Very much so. Can you – can you give us your perspective on Brexit? Now, obviously, if there’s a – if the election turns – in France turns things a little unstable, it could be a little different. But how do you see Europe coming together to deal with the Brexit negotiations? And is – you know, what – are there red lines here? And are there – are there specific things that you would say would be the most important thing to focus on from the EU side?
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Well, we, the Italians, are in favor of a fair approach, first, because we don’t need a revenge. We don’t need a revenge to demonstrate that if you go out of EU you are punished. I think that the discussion staying in or out of Europe in several countries will not be decided by the attitude towards London.
At the same time, there is no cherry picking. You can’t have the good of the single market and avoid the costs and the commitments of the single market. But I think that Theresa May has clearly – is clearly in this page.
So the discussion will be very much on timing. And we all know that the negotiation will be difficult because when you see the European treaties, they are high – (laughs) – thousands of pages, like this. So the discussion is not a(n) ideological discussion, then you have to discuss on fisheries, on labeling of products, whatever. So it will be a very difficult and tough discussion.
We need unity. This is – this was also my message to Prime Minister May, and this is interesting. We both need unity. We – EU – need unity because unity means have a strong negotiation position. But also, U.K. needs our unity because without our unity no agreement will never be implemented, because you need every single 27 European member state to approve this agreement. So our unity is also in the interest of the U.K. position.
Unity and please continue to consider the relation between Italy and U.K., EU and U.K. in geopolitics and in counterterrorism and in Middle East and whatever as relation between friends, allies and partners.
Then there are some specific issues where we will be very demanding, we Italians. One is the situation of our citizens in Britain. We have more or less 500,000 Italian citizens, and we can’t play with their rights. But, again, I am confident that this is clearly understood by the British authorities.
MR. HAMRE: Well, I’ve come to the end of the questions, and I know I have to reserve some time for you with our journalists. And so would all of you – first, let me just give the instructions. The registered journalists – and they’re going to be controlled by the public affairs guy – please meet in that corner and we’re going to have an opportunity for the president to do – or the prime minister to do a scrum, as we say here.
Would you please now, with your applause, say thank you? This was a remarkable discussion. We learned a lot today. (Applause.)
PRIME MIN. GENTILONI: Grazie. Thank you. (Applause.)