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Title: The Balkan Vector of Italy's Current Foreign Policy
Authors: Shibkova, O. S.
Шибкова, О. С.
Keywords: Adriatic and Ionian Initiative;Western Balkans;Mediterranean;EU;Adriatic and Ionian Region;Italy
Issue Date: 2023
Citation: Shibkova, M.O., Shibkova, O.S. The Balkan Vector of Italy's Current Foreign Policy // Sovremennaya Evropa. - 2023. - 6. - pp. 59-70. - DOI: 10.31857/S0201708323060062
Series/Report no.: Sovremennaya Evropa
Abstract: The article analyses Italy's theoretical and practical approach to the AdriaticIonian region, viewed as part of the concept of the "enlarged Mediterranean" (Mediterraneo Allargato), a geopolitical space that extends far beyond the Mediterranean basin. The aim of the research is to determine the place of the Balkans in Italy's modern foreign policy strategy, analysing available policy documents as well as the practical actions of the current government under the leadership of Giorgia Meloni. Italian involvement in the Balkans in the 1990s gave way to a passive EU policy in the 2000s. However, at the beginning of this decade, in the absence of a visible EU interest in the region, Italy sought to restore a bilateral format of its relations with the Western Balkans, as shown by a new reflection on Rome's soft power potential to promote the socalled System Italy (Sistema Paese) undertaken by Italian research centres. Against the backdrop of Russia-Ukraine crisis, the EU interest in the Mediterranean has also flared up, which resulted in the adoption of the New Agenda for the Mediterranean as well as the EU Strategic Compass. Italy seeks to become a new protagonist in the Balkans, by acting together with EU partners (e.g. within the Andriatic-Ionian initiative) and by taking independent political and economic initiatives (e.g. by intensifying bilateral meetings and organising business forums). The recent exacerbation of the Balkan agenda, coupled with the centre-right government's desire for a general intensification of foreign policy and the search for additional markets and business partners among its closest neighbours, offer new opportunities for Italian diplomacy.
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