Italy has traditionally looked to Germany as a natural partner in defining the EU’s approach to Russia. Shared views of Russia as a member of the European family of nations, converging assessments of Europe’s security needs, and parallel energy and trade interests have all contributed to this. However, since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis a perception has begun to emerge in Italy of a widening gap between the Italian national interest and Germany’s Ostpolitik. While German policy per se is not a major topic of discussion, the Italian debate about the most appropriate policy course towards Russia and Eastern Europe contains a number of implicit assumptions about German choices and interests. This debate runs along political cleavages, with Italy’s expanding Eurosceptic coalition increasingly advocating a normalization of relations with Russia. Germany’s Ostpolitik, or at least some of the fundamental assumptions on which it is predicated, seems thus destined to become the object of greater contestation in Italy.
Paper prepared by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) on behalf of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation-Rome Office, March 2017. See also: "Deutschlands Osteuropapolitik – eine italienische Perspektive", in Matthias Jobelius and Peer Teschendorf (eds.), Der Blick der Anderen. Deutsche Ostpolitik aus Sicht der Partner, Berlin, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, April 2017, p. 40-43 (Internationale Politikanalyse), ISBN 978-3-95861-768-1
1. Italy, Germany’s Ostpolitik and the Ukraine crisis
2. Germany’s Ostpolitik and Italy’s grievances
3. An embryonic, yet already polarized, debate