We must be careful about the new 'Silk Road' says Salvini

Conte says Chinese initiative won't throw govt into crisis

(ANSA) - Matera, March 12 - Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini called for prudence on Tuesday when asked about Italy reaching an agreement over China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive infrastructure project seeking to create a sort of Silk Road for the modern world. "It's a fundamentally important to open new markets to Italian firms and entrepreneurs," Salvini said during a visit to Matera. "But it is necessary to protect the national interest and national security.
    "So it is necessary to be very, very careful before putting vital infrastructure for Italy, I'm thinking data, networks, ports and airports, at the disposal of foreign investors".
    The US and the EU have voiced concern about Italy joining the BRI.
    Earlier on Tuesday Economy Minister Giovanni Tria said the controversy about this issue was a "storm in a teacup".
    Tria stressed Italy-Chinese talks were only on a possible memorandum of understanding, "and not a deal".
    Premier Giuseppe Conte said there was "no air of a crisis" in government between allies the 5-Star Movement (M5S) and Salvini's League because of differing views of the BRI. "There is absolutely no whiff of crisis in the government on the China chapter," he said. "The government always moves in a coordinated and coherent way on these scenarios. "The China chapter is not something you can improvise from one day to the next, it was prepared in the last few months, and it certainly must be faced with a lot of caution." European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said that States must bear in mind the European Union's rules when they reach agreements with non-EU States. Katainen pointed out that 13 EU States have already signed similar memorandums. "We'll assess it like we assess all the other protocols signed by the other EU States," he said. "All the member States that are making commitments in this regard must remember that we have our rules about transparency and competition, so public contracts must be open to all".