McConnell Praises Allies’ Clarity On Collective Defense
‘If we are serious about competition with the PRC, we will need to work more closely with allies and partners who share our interest in preserving a world of free and fair trade and secure supply chains. So I’m hopeful that President Biden and Prime Minister Meloni have a productive meeting tomorrow. I look forward to discussing our two nations’ common challenges and priorities with her directly.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding national security:
“Tomorrow, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy will visit Washington for a series of meetings. I look forward to welcoming her to the Capitol at an important time for our two countries’ friendship and for Italy’s role in the trans-Atlantic alliance.
“Prime Minister Meloni took office as Europe faced its first large-scale land war in decades and Italy faced the increasing economic vulnerabilities of reliance on China. And by all accounts, she’s addressed these challenges head-on.
“The Prime Minister has repeatedly asserted Italy’s commitment to helping Ukraine defeat Russian aggression and rebuild its economy. And importantly, unlike some leaders, she’s done so with refreshing clarity to the Italian people about their own country’s concrete interests in helping Ukraine defend itself.
“Earlier this spring, in an address to the Italian Senate, Prime Minister Meloni summed up the reality:
“‘We are also sending [arms] to the Ukrainians to prevent the possibility of having to use them ourselves one day. We are sending arms to Ukraine also to keep the war far away from the rest of Europe and our home.’
“Not vaguely defined philanthropy.
“Just cold, hard investments in our own security.
“At the NATO Summit in Vilnius earlier this month, Italy’s leader rightly declared that, ‘our freedom has a cost… [W]hat is invested in defence comes back tenfold, a hundredfold, in terms of our ability to defend our national interests’.
“Secretary General Stoltenberg has recognized the Prime Minister’s ‘strong, personal commitment to NATO, (and) to our trans-Atlantic alliance’.
“And the Italian government has expressed its intention to accelerate progress toward the Alliance’s 2% defense spending target. I hope and expect to see Italy – and all NATO Allies – meet this goal.
“This shift in Italy’s approach to defense and security policy reflects what Allies are recognizing across Europe: that the long holiday from history is over, and that investments in hard power are overdue.
“But as Prime Minister Meloni meets with President Biden tomorrow, it’s important to remember that our shared interests extend beyond Europe.
“Italy is rightly concerned about growing instability, terrorism, and migration flows in Africa – yet another area where Russian and Chinese influence has played a corrosive and threatening role. America has a shared interest in keeping pressure on the global terrorist resurgence that has followed the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“I’m also encouraged that the Italian government is unraveling its involvement in China’s so-called ‘belt-and-road initiative,’ another indication that European allies are taking steps to protect themselves against China’s economic coercion.
“If we are serious about competition with the PRC, we will need to work more closely with allies and partners who share our interest in preserving a world of free and fair trade and secure supply chains.
“So I’m hopeful that President Biden and Prime Minister Meloni have a productive meeting tomorrow. I look forward to discussing our two nations’ common challenges and priorities with her directly.
“And in the meantime, I am hopeful our colleagues will continue to work diligently to provide for the common defense and equip America and our allies to meet and deter common threats.”