News Analysis: Italy's 33-year-old FM seen as new-generation leader

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-10 11:03:43|Editor: Li Xia
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by Eric J. Lyman

ROME, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The youngest minister of foreign affairs in Italy's history did not take the traditional path to one of the government's highest-profile jobs. But early indications show that 33-year-old Luigi Di Maio might surprise his critics.

Sources said there are reasons for optimism about his upcoming tenure.

"Di Maio is a great example of a new generation of political figures who don't have the same kind of background as some of their predecessors," Andrea Carteny, an international relations professor at Rome's La Sapienza University, told Xinhua. "What he does not have in experience, he makes up for in savvy and enthusiasm."

Carteny noted that Di Maio adeptly guided his party, the Five-Star Movement, through the complicated government crisis after former coalition partner, the nationalist, rightwing League engineered the government's collapse on Aug. 20.

Carteny also said the fact that Di Maio comes into foreign policy situations without preconceived notions can work to his advantage.

Matteo Bressan, an international relations specialist at Lumsa University in Rome, said in an interview that Di Maio's first move as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's choice for foreign minister bodes well.

"Di Maio selected Ettore Francesco Sequi as his top advisor, which was a very smart move," Bressan said. Sequi has been Italy's ambassador to China since 2015 who also has experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Sequi will return to Rome as chief of staff of Di Maio, an indication of the importance the new government and Di Maio himself is giving to their ties with China.

"Remember that being a foreign minister does not mean a person has to know everything about everything," Bressan said. "It means they have to be able to surround themselves with the right people and make good judgment calls."

"So far at least, Di Maio has proved he can do that," Bressan added.