FIRST ON FOX – A close ally to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told Fox News Digital that criticism against her for abandoning policies on illegal migration and other issues is unfounded.  

Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Edmondo Cirielli told Fox News Digital, “Giorgia Meloni hasn’t changed, Europe has changed.” Cirielli is the co-founder and national coordinator of Meloni’s party, the Fratelli D’Italia Party.

He said Italy is inspiring the European Union president to follow its strong conservative stances.


Giorgia Meloni speaks at podium during election campaign

The leader of Fratelli d’Italia, Giorgia Meloni, in Rome on Sept. 22, 2022 for the closing of the election campaign for the general election in Italy on Sept. 25, 2022. (Getty Images)

He said that the Europe of Ursula von der Leyen is paying attention to Italy’s policies and “is listening to Italy’s reasons. Italy has always wanted nations to be stronger in Europe and is leading the rest of the European Union on this. Von der Leyen herself is accompanying Meloni in her action against illegal immigration. They have already intervened in Egypt and Tunisia. We will soon do it in Libya too.”

He added “among other things, there are European elections in a few months and the conservative party led by Giorgia Meloni, the European Conservative Party led by Giorgia Meloni, will give a new direction to this Europe. And the European Parliament itself, the European People’s Party itself, will have to take into account the problems that exist today and that Giorgia Meloni identified during her electoral campaign.” 

Migrants from a migrant housing center on the Italian island of Lampedusa are guided by a security official on Sept. 14, 2023 as they prepare to board the ship “Galaxy”, bound for the Sicilian town of Porto Empedocle. The island struggled to cope with a surge in migrant boats from North Africa after numbers peaked at 7,000 people, equivalent to the entire local population. (Photo by ALESSANDRO SERRANO/AFP via Getty Images)

Birth rates in Italy have dropped to a record low in 2023 with a 15th consecutive annual decline. In 2023, Italy recorded 379,000 births, a 3.6% decline from 2022. 

Cirielli said the problem does not only concern Italy, but concerns all of Western Europe. In its 2024 budget, Italy earmarked around 1 billion Euros (approximately $1.1 billion) for several measures aimed at addressing Italy’s demographic crisis. 

“We are implementing a series of policies aimed at supporting births, birth rates and young couples, both on an economic and financial level, and this is obviously also a social phenomenon. It’s about changing your mindset and understanding that life is an opportunity and a joy for everyone,” the deputy foreign minister said.


In this image taken from a video released by the Italian Coast Guard on Thursday, April 11, 2024, a boat with migrants is approached by a rescue operation off the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea. The Italian Coast Guard rescued 22 people and recovered nine bodies on Thursday, April 10, 2024, after a smugglers’ boat capsized in storm about 30 miles south of the island of Lampedusa. (Photo: Italian Coast Guard.)

The journey from North Africa to Italy has become one of the busiest migration routes with data showing migrant arrivals jumping 50% in 2023 from the previous year.

Cirielli accompanied Prime Minister Meloni last week on her fourth visit to Tunisia in a year when they signed new accords as part of Italy’s “Mattei Plan” for Africa. 

Italian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Edmondo Cirielli, left, signs accords along with Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni and Tunisian President Kais Saied, center right. (Photo: Gerardo Antelmo/ Office of the Vice Minister Edmondo Cirielli.) (Gerardo Antelmo/ Office of the Vice Minister Edmondo Cirielli)

“We are faced with an epochal fact that does not only concern Italy,” said Cirielli.


The Mattei Plan seeks to tackle education and training, agriculture, health, water and energy development while aiming to make Italy an energy hub to transport natural gas supplies from Africa to the rest of Europe.

“We are intervening, first of all, with agreements with North African countries to prevent the departures from these coasts, but above all, we are trying to come to the places of origin of the migration. They are trying to help development and at the same time also provide legal channels of migration. Because the real problem is not migration itself and rather it is the criminal organizations that are behind the trafficking of migrants which is creating a new slave trade.”

He added, “This globalization is becoming very powerful on a financial level, exploiting this trafficking and in this way destabilizing Africa, becoming criminal organizations that launder this money from international trafficking, funneling it into drugs, armaments and also to often support the causes of terrorist organizations.”

Under Italy’s rotating stewardship, the G-7 foreign ministers met last week on the Italian resort island of Capri with calls for new sanctions against Iran over its attack against Israel.

“Italy, with the presidency of the G-7, has condemned Iran’s action and knows well that Iran is carrying out a destabilizing action in the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East, but it is equally true that we do not need an escalation… Israel’s bombing of a consular office, the diplomatic headquarters, was also a risky act. On the other hand, all of the G-7 noted that Iran’s response was a response, this time a balanced, moderate response compared to the episode itself.”

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Edmondo Cirielli

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Italian Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Edmondo Cirielli during the ceremony of Oath of the Undersecretaries at Palazzo Chigi. Rome (Italy), November 02nd, 2022 (Photo by Massimo Di Vita/Archivio Massimo Di Vita/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Cirielli added “It was understood that the Iranian government does not want an escalation and therefore everyone agrees, in the G-7, at the invitation following the lead of Biden and Giorgia Meloni and neighbors who are close and ready to support,Israel, especially Israel’s right to defend itself and Israel’s right to exist. But we must carry forward a de-escalation and prevent a regional war from erupting from this issue in Gaza.”

In December, Italy withdrew from China’s Belt and Road Initiative which intended to rebuild the Silk Road to connect China with Asia and Europe by expanding China’s infrastructure spending on roads and shipping routes. 

Cirielli says the move to withdraw is not an interruption between the relationship of Italy and China but in the best interest of Italian trade.


“It was a mistake by the Conte Government and the center-left governments that preceded us to make a political agreement because this seemed inconsistent with the alliance of the North Atlantic Treaty and also with the European Union…we terminated this agreement at the natural deadline and are establishing a new economic-social partnership, as like France and Germany have known. Therefore, there is not an interruption of relations, but a different modulation based on ancient, thousand-year-old relations almost only between the Italic peoples and the Chinese peoples, based absolutely on good dialogue, on profitable trade for both.” 

The “Opposition had said that it is not wrong to have diplomatic relations or economic relations with China, it is wrong to have a political relationship that is underlying the agreement launched by China towards the world,” he concluded. 


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