Piero Fassino is a member of the Italian Parliament with the Democratic Party and President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies. In past governments, he held the roles of Minister of Foreign Trade, Minister Justice, and was the 38th Mayor of Turin and former leader of leftist Democratic Party. In an exclusive interview with the Kyiv Post, he talks about relations between Italy and Ukraine following Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s resignation, Ukraine’s accession plan to the European Union, and Ukraine’s future reconstruction effort.

Ukrainians are worried about the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who supported their struggle for independence – a further blow after losing the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was a staunch ally. Do you think there is a risk that Italy could change its course and that support for Ukraine could weaken?


The Draghi government’s wholehearted and active support for the Ukrainian people’s struggle for freedom reflects government policy in tune with the sincere feelings of the Italian people. Our decision to support the defense of Ukraine, also through military assistance, has been unanimously supported in Parliament.

Whoever wins the elections, I do not believe that this support will weaken. That, at least, is what I am fervently hoping. Anyone who were to take it upon themselves to reduce support for the Ukrainian people would find themselves at odds with public opinion, both in Italy and abroad, and it would be a flagrant betrayal of the commitments made by Parliament.

Italy also strongly supported Ukraine’s candidacy to the European Union. What must Ukraine do to avoid its candidacy stalling, such as what happened with Turkey, whose candidacy has been frozen for more than 20 years?

For years I have been a staunch advocate of stepping up the pace of European integration from the Western Balkans to Eastern Europe. The rapid approval of candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova and the start of negotiations for the accession of Albania and North Macedonia both demonstrate that something has now changed.


The EU can no longer mark time in the face of the efforts being made by the governments of countries applying to join the EU, nor betray the aspirations of millions of citizens who want to be part of the EU. After all, they know that it has guaranteed the longest period of peace Europe has ever experienced.

We expect Brussels to fast-track the accession process for the candidate countries and we expect the candidate countries to undertake the reforms needed to adapt to European standards. Italy is ready to assist and accompany Ukraine in its journey towards EU membership.

Among factors behind the conflict in Ukraine, is a clash between the official language – Ukrainian, and the language still spoken today by many Ukrainians – Russian.

Italy has also experienced linguistic tensions, after having annexed Alto Adige (South Tyrol) at the end of the First World War, which was inhabited by German-speaking populations. There was also a separatist armed resistance by South Tyroleans, which claimed victims among the Italian security forces.

Italy has reconciled that area with an agreement for the protection of the local language. How can this Italian experience be useful to Ukraine in resolving the conflict?


First of all, I would like to say that virtually every European country has a mix of coexisting communities with different cultures, languages and religions. Just think of the Hungarian communities living in Serbia, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine; the German communities in western Poland; the Russian-speaking populations in the Baltics or the Turks in Bulgaria. Recognizing the identity of each community and guaranteeing their rights is the way to avoid conflict and achieve coexistence.

In Italy too, we have French-speaking and German-speaking communities. The largest is the German-speaking and German-cultural community living in South Tyrol on the border with Austria. After the end of the Second World War, an agreement between Italy and Austria ensured equal rights, political representation, bilingualism, and the recognition of the specific cultural identities of both the German and Italian-speaking communities.

For 80 years, Alto Adige/South Tyrol has been a positive example of coexistence that has contributed to making that province one of the most prosperous areas of Italy. It certainly stands as an example of how two different communities with different histories and traditions can live together without conflict, without discrimination and in peace.


After the Second World War, Italy was heavily destroyed and rebuilt with the U.S. Marshall Plan. This created an economic boom termed the ‘Italian miracle’. Ukraine, when the war ends, should be able to rebuild itself with a plan of financial support, offered by friendly nations. What have been the key success factors for Italy that Ukraine could take forward with respect to reconstruction? 

We are standing by Ukraine today, and we shall also be standing by Ukraine when – I hope as soon as possible – you are able to rebuild your amazing country and relaunch its economy, infrastructure and development. Major international mobilization will be essential, continuing along the path launched by the Lugano conference.

Historically, Italy has had long-standing ties with Ukraine, which are still solid today. This has been demonstrated by our Parliament, our government, and our diplomatic representation in Kyiv headed by Ambassador Zazo, who has worked since the first days of the conflict to save so many people caught up in the atrocities of Vladimir Putin’s war.

On 4 July in Lugano, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal presented a reconstruction plan, in which various regions of Ukraine were hypothetically assigned to the countries most committed to future reconstruction. Which region or city of Ukraine would be most interesting for a cooperation with Italian industry?


Italian cities with a long tradition and history, such as Genoa, Trieste and Bologna, are already twinned with Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv, respectively. In particular, Italy has many important port cities that can contribute to the reconstruction of ports and port infrastructure in Odesa and other Ukrainian cities.

Additionally, many Italian cities have been mobilized to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and to host over 150,000 Ukrainian refugees. This has built bonds of solidarity that will also prove very useful for the reconstruction effort.

Italy is there for Ukraine and will remain there.

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