In person at the Federal Foreign Office, with a small number of journalists on the spot - Luigi Di Maio’s visit is a sign of a gradual, cautious return to the familiar patterns of diplomacy. Among EU Member States, Italy has been particularly badly affected by the pandemic, but it is now slowly opening up again both for its own citizens and for tourists.
Heiko Maas said:
We were all deeply moved by the images from Italy. And they were a clear warning to us of the devastating impact this pandemic can have. So I would like once again to express my great respect and profound admiration for the discipline with which the Italian people have faced up to the pandemic; they have acted remarkably.
Germany has made help available – and even if in the initial days everyone first had to ensure their own capacity to act, it quickly became clear that Europe would only emerge from this crisis if it acted together.
Fresh start for the economy
As founding members of the EU, Germany and Italy have worked together from the outset to make it what it is today. That is why Maas is clear that no country in Europe should be left behind. The Franco-German impetus to rebuild Europe illustrates the fundamental attitude: the EU cannot save its way out of this severe crisis, but must grow out of it. At the same time, the necessary investment should look to the future: it should pour into the social, environmental, digital and sustainable transformation of Europe’s economy and society. A European compromise is urgently needed now; this requires all sides to be willing to talk. During its Presidency of the Council of the EU, Germany wants to do its utmost to act as an honest broker in finding just such a compromise.
Increasing freedom of movement in Europe
Italy is the second most popular destination for German tourists. When the global travel warning is lifted, travel to the country is again to be possible. Maas and Di Maio agreed to remain in particularly close contact in order to keep an eye on regional infection rates and to respond if necessary. Under the framework of the dialogue among European neighbours, Germany is currently in constant touch with all its neighbours and with major holiday destination countries.
Libya: Positive signals for talks
The situation in Libya is worrying. Maas again emphasised that there can be no peace on the basis of a military solution. There is no alternative to a political process. The recent indications from the parties to the conflict that they want to reboot the 5+5 talks on a ceasefire are a positive sign.