Italy

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th June 1994.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Thompson Mr Patrick Thompson , Norwich North 12:00 am, 15th June 1994

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has met members of the new Italian Government to discuss recent developments in the European Union.

Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory , Wells

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the new Italian Foreign Minister at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 16 and 17 May 1994.

Photo of Mr Patrick Thompson Mr Patrick Thompson , Norwich North

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is vital that there are good links between the European Union and the emerging eastern European countries? In his recent discussions with the new Italian Government, has he had a chance to discuss joint projects to further the support and links between the European Union and eastern Europe?

Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory , Wells

My right hon. Friend had a successful and constructive meeting with Signor Martino, the new Italian Foreign Minister, and it was agreed to carry forward a joint initiative to develop foreign policy and justice and home affairs relations between the European Union and the newly emergent democracies of central and eastern Europe.

Photo of George Galloway George Galloway , Glasgow Hillhead

Is not it true that although Signor Fini and the MSI fascists in Italy were democratically elected, so were Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler before them? Cannot the Government sense at least some unease in this country, as we celebrate the anniversaries currently, about the fact that British men left their bones in the soil of Europe to liberate this continent from fascism, yet fascism is back in the elected Government of Italy?

Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory , Wells

The hon. Gentleman's record of support for non-elected dictators is not altogether an honourable one, but I can repeat the important point that those newly elected Italian Ministers have made quite clear their support and respect for the 1948 Italian constitution, which is fully democratic in all respects.

Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East

Can my hon. Friend reassure the House that Signor Martino is extremely enthusiastic about the Maastricht treaty and the European Union?

Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory , Wells

We are all enthusiastic about the Maastricht treaty and the European Union.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West

Did the Foreign Secretary raise with the Italian Foreign Secretary the concern, which I know is felt on both sides of the House, about the resurgence of neo-fascism in Italy? Did he discuss it at all with his opposite number and does he share the concern that so many of us feel about the growth of fascism and racism in so many parts of Europe?

Photo of David Heathcoat-Amory David Heathcoat-Amory , Wells

Of course, we would be concerned if there was a resurgence of fascism in Italy. It was precisely because we are assured about the democratic credentials and aims of the new Italian Government that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the new Italian Government and agreed a programme of future developments with that Government.