German aid deliveries: is Europe letting Italy down?

    Germany sent hundreds of ventilators to Italy. But in the minds of many Italians it has become clear that China was there in need. Beijing is actually doing much more than its partners in the EU.


    When aircraft from China and Russia with medical supplies in Rome land, Foreign Minister tells Luigi Di Maio his ostentatious joy in real-time on social media or is the same even on the runway. The arrival of two Italian Air Force cargo planes with around seven tons of medical equipment from Germany, including the ventilators urgently needed in northern Italy, was almost noiseless on Wednesday and Thursday in Rome and Milan. After all, Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini thanked “the German friends and allies for their support at this very moment”.

    But for the time being, the Italian public has established that the country, in the worst crisis since time immemorial, was abandoned by its supposedly closest friends in Europe. “We’ll remember that,” wrote Gianluca Di Feo, deputy editor-in-chief of the left-liberal and Europe-friendly daily newspaper “La Repubblica”, a bit over a week ago in an editorial full of bitterness. After a phone call between Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 12, the ban on exports of medical material that was routinely imposed in times of national emergency has now been lifted.

    Handwritten letter from the Federal President

    And help from Germany is now reaching Italy. Of course not to the extent and not associated with as much noisy propaganda as is the case with airplanes with relief supplies and medical personnel from China and Russia. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier tried to repair the damaged German-Italian relationship with a handwritten letter to Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Friday. In the letter, Steinmeier assured, “dear Sergio Mattarella” of his deep personal sympathy and “solidarity of my compatriots” in this “extremely difficult situation” for Italy.

    Steinmeier writes that a “truly European spirit of human and practical solidarity” is now needed to overcome this unprecedented crisis. In his likewise handwritten reply from Saturday to “dear friend Frank-Walter”, Mattarella wrote that he and with him all of Italy were “very grateful for the solidarity shown and implemented by Germany”. The agreement between the health ministries of both countries on the delivery of medical devices from Germany to Italy was also “of great importance as a sign of deep friendship between our countries”.