Foreign relations of Italy

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Foreign relations

Foreign relations of the Italian Republic are the Italian government's external relations with the outside world. Located in Europe, Italy has been considered a major Western power since its unification in 1861.[1] Its main allies are the NATO countries, the EU states and the G7 nations, three entities of which Italy is a founding member.

Italy has a particular role within the Christian world because Rome is the seat of the Pope and the center of the Catholic Church. Italy acts as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has a lot of troops deployed in the middle east and all over the world for peacekeeping missions and for combating the organized crime, illegal drug trade, human trafficking, piracy and terrorism. Italy is currently commanding various multinational forces.[2] The country plays also a significant role in former colonies and territories of the Italian Empire and is considered a key player in the mediterranean region.


The stages of Italian unification during 1829–71

The Risorgimento was the era 1830–1870 that saw the emergence of a national consciousness. Italians achieved independence from Austria, the House of Bourbon and from the Pope, securing national unification.[3][4] The papacy called France to resist unification, fearing that giving up control of the Papal States would weaken the Church and allow the liberals to dominate conservative Catholics.[5] Italy captured Rome in 1870 and later formed the Triple Alliance (1882) with Germany and Austria.

Italy defeated the Ottoman Empire in 1911-1912.[6] By 1914, Italy had acquired in Africa a colony on the Red Sea coast (Eritrea), a large protectorate in Somalia and administrative authority in formerly Turkish Libya. Outside of Africa, Italy possessed a small concession in Tientsin in China (following the Boxer Rebellion) and the Dodecanese Islands off the coast of Turkey.

Austria took the offensive against the terms of the alliance and Italy decided to take part in World War I as a principal allied power with France, the UK and Japan. During the First World War, Italy occupied southern Albania to prevent if from falling to Austria-Hungary. In 1917, it established a protectorate over Albania, which remained in place until 1920.[7] Italy defeated the Austrian Empire in 1918 and became one of the main winners of the war.

The Fascist government that came to power with Benito Mussolini in 1922 sought to increase the size of the Italian empire and to satisfy the claims of Italian irredentists. In 1935–36, in its second invasion of Ethiopia Italy was successful and merged its new conquest with its older east African colonies. In 1939, Italy invaded Albania and incorporated it into the Fascist state. During the Second World War (1939–45), Italy formed the axis alliance with Japan and Germany and occupied several territories (such as parts of France, Greece, Egypt and Tunisia) but was forced in the final peace to abandon all its colonies and protectorates. Following the civil war and the economic depression caused by World War II, Italy enjoyed an economic miracle, promoted European unity, joined NATO and became an active member of the European Union.[8] Italy was granted a United Nations trust to administer Somaliland in 1950. When Somalia became independent in 1960, Italy's eight-decade experience with colonialism ended.

Relations by region and country


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Albania1912See Albania–Italy relations

The Kingdom of Italy supported Albanian Declaration of Independence in 1912.
Arbëreshë people
Italian protectorate over Albania
Italian invasion of Albania
Albanian Kingdom (1939–1943)
Italian colonists in Albania

  • Albania has an embassy in Rome and a Consulate General in Bari and Milan.
  • Italy has an embassy in Tirana and Consulates in Gjirokastër, Shkodra, Vlora.
  • Italy and Albania share similar historical, political and cultural backgrounds.[9]
  • Albania is home to 20,000 Italian migrants and has a 5,000 Italian indigenous community.[10]
  • Italy is home to indigenous Arbereshe community, including up to 900,000 Albanian immigrants.[11]
  • Italian is the third most spoken language of Albania, after Albanian and Greek.[12]
  • Italy is considered one of Albania's strongest allies especially within the European Union.
  • Albanian is a prominent language in Italy with Albanian immigrants speaking Albanian in large numbers on top of the over 800,000 Italians who speak the Arbereshe dialect of Albanian.[12]

Italy is represented in Andorra through its embassy in Madrid (Spain) and an honorary consulate in Andorra La Vella.

 AustriaSee Austria–Italy relations

Austria has an embassy in Rome, a general consulate in Milan and 10 honorary consulates (in Bari, Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, Trieste, Turin, Venice and Verona). Italy has an embassy in Vienna, a consulate in Innsbruck, and 5 honorary consulates (in Graz, Klagenfurt, Linz, Rankweil and Salzburg).

  • Belarus has an embassy in Rome and 2 honorary consulates (in Naples and Turin).[13]
  • Italy has an embassy in Minsk.[14]
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Bulgaria1879See Bulgaria–Italy relations
 Croatia1992-01-17See Croatia–Italy relations
  • Croatia has an embassy in Rome, 2 general consulates (in Milan and Trieste), and 5 honorary consulates (in Bari, Florence, Montemitro, Naples, and Padua).[19]
  • Italy has an embassy in Zagreb, a general consulate in Rijeka, a consulate in Split and 2 honorary consulates (in Buje and Pula).[20]
  • Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe and of the Union for the Mediterranean.
  • There are around 19,500 people of Italian descent living in Croatia.
  • There are 21,360 Croats living in Italy.
 Czech Republic
 DenmarkSee Denmark-Italy relations
 FinlandSee Foreign relations of Finland
 FranceSee France–Italy relations
 GermanySee Germany–Italy relations
 Greece1861See Greece–Italy relations

In modern times, both countries established diplomatic relations in 1861, immediately upon Italy’s unification.

 Holy SeeSee Holy See – Italy relations

Due to the size of the Vatican City State, embassies accredited to the Holy See are based on Italian territory. Treaties signed between Italy and the Vatican City State permit such embassages. The Embassy of Italy to the Holy See is unique amongst foreign embassages in that it is the only embassy based on its home territory.

The Holy See maintains formal diplomatic relations with 176 sovereign states, the European Union, and the Order of Malta; 69 of the diplomatic missions accredited to the Holy See are situated in Rome, though those countries than have two embassies in the same city, since, by agreement between the Holy See and Italy, the same person cannot be accredited simultaneously to both. This is shown clearly by the fact that Italy recognizes the People's Republic of China, and as such, the Chinese Embassy is in Rome. However, the Vatican City State recognizes the Taiwan, and as such, Taiwan's Embassy to the Holy See is also in Rome. As Italy was the first country to recognize the Holy See as a sovereign nation, their embassy was the first one established.

 KosovoSee Italian–Kosovan relations

Italy recognized Kosovo on 21 February 2008.[39][40] Italy has an embassy in Pristina since 15 May 2008.[41] Kosovo will open an embassy in Rome.

  • Italy is represented in Liechtenstein through its embassy in Bern (Switzerland)
 MaltaSee Italy–Malta relations
 MoldovaSee Moldova-Italy relations
 MonacoSee Italy-Monaco relations
 Poland1919See Italy–Poland relations
 Republic of Macedonia1991
  • Italy has an embassy in Skopje
 RussiaSee Italy–Russia relations

Russia has an embassy in Rome and consulates in Genoa, Milan and Palermo, and Italy has an embassy in Moscow, a consulate in Saint Petersburg, two consulte generals (in Ekaterinburg and Kaliningrad), and two embassy branches in (Samara and Volgograd). Both countries are full members of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Russia enjoys close relations with Italy. In 2006, Russia and Italy have signed a protocol of cooperation for fighting crime and defending civil liberties. There are close commercial ties between the two countries. Italy is Russia's second important commercial partner in the EU, after Germany. and its state-owned energy company, ENI, has recently signed a very important long-term contract with Gazprom, to import Russian gas into Italy.

The relationship between Russia and Italy goes back a long way. Already in the 1960s, Italy's FIAT built a car-assembling plant in the Soviet city of Tolyatti (a city named after the Italian Communist Party's secretary Palmiro Togliatti). Russians have always visited Italy in great numbers. Many Russian students come to Italy each year to study arts and music. Unlike many other Western European countries, Italy has traditionally always maintained good relationships with Russia, even during the Soviet era. In particular, the Silvio Berlusconi Government (2001–2006) strengthened Italy's ties with Russia, due to his personal friendship with President Vladimir Putin. Cooperation extends also to the aviation sector, between Italy's Alenia and Russia's Sukhoi, who are jointly developing a new aircraft. Finally, for a long time Italy had the largest communist party in the Western world, with over 2 million members. .[58]

 San Marino
 SpainSee Italy–Spain relations

Both countries established diplomatic relations after the unification of Italy. Relations between Italy Spain have remained strong and affable for centuries owing to various political, cultural, and historical connections between the two nations.

  SwitzerlandSee Switzerland – Italy relations
 United KingdomSee Italy – United Kingdom relations

Although enemies during World War II, the United Kingdom and Italy have generally enjoyed a warm and friendly relationship throughout history. Both states embrace membership of the European Union, NATO, OSCE and the G8[62]

Between 4 and 5 million British tourists visit Italy every year, while 1 million Italian tourists visit the UK.[63] There are about 19,000 British nationals living in Italy, and 150,000 Italians living in the UK.[64]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Argentina1837See Argentina–Italy relations
 Costa Rica
 Chile1864See Chile–Italy relations
 Colombia1847See Colombia–Italy relations
 Mexico1874See Italy–Mexico relations
 United States1861–04-11See Italy–United States relations

The United States enjoy a peculiar relation with Italy, as the latter, defeated in WWII, has been a secret battlefield of the Cold War. Italy and the US are NATO allies and cooperate in the United Nations, in various regional organizations, and bilaterally. Italy has worked closely with the United States and with other nations on such issues as NATO and UN operations as well as with assistance to Russia and the New Independent States; the Middle East peace process; multilateral talks.

Under longstanding bilateral agreements flowing from NATO membership, Italy hosts important U.S. military forces at Vicenza and Livorno (army); Aviano (air force); and Sigonella, Gaeta, and Naples- home port for the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet. The United States still has about 16,000 military personnel stationed in Italy. The NATO War College is situated at Cecchignola, a neighborhood of Rome.

Also, investigations continue about the killing of Italian Military Intelligence service officer Nicola Calipari by United States troops during the liberation of Giuliana Sgrena and about the abduction and torture of terrorism suspect Abu Omar by CIA agents.

 Uruguay1861See Italy–Uruguay relations

Middle East and Africa

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 EgyptSee Egypt–Italy relations

Relations between both countries were established during the period of the Roman Empire. However, in World War II, relations were strained as Italy invaded Egypt. However, after the war, relations were re-established and are close. Egypt has representations in Rome and Milan, while Italy has representations in Cairo and Alexandria, also the two nations are members of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Relations deteriorated after the abduction and killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni. Egypt has been accused by Italian authorities and public opinion of lacking of transparence.

 IranSee Iran–Italy relations

Iran-Italy trade stood at $US 2.7 Billion in 2001 and 3.852 Billion Euros in 2003. In 2005, Italy was the third largest trading partner of Iran with 7.5% of all exports to Iran. Italy was the top trading partner of Iran in the European Union in early 2006.[88] Commercial exchanges hit 6 billion euros in 2008.[89] Although Italy harbors a large population of members of the MKO as do many European Union states, Italy officially considers the group a terrorist organization.

 IraqSee Iraq–Italy relations

Iraq has an embassy in Rome and Italy has an embassy in Baghdad and a consulate-general in Basra.

 Israel1948See Israel–Italy relations
  • Relations were formally established after Kenya gained its independence from British rule.
  • Italy has an embassy in Nairobi and 2 counsulates in Malindi and Mombasa.
  • Kenya has an embassy in Rome.
 LebanonSee Italy–Lebanon relations
 Libya1947, 2011See Italy–Libya relations
 SomaliaSee Italy–Somalia relations
 South Africa1929

Asia and Oceania

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
  • Afghanistan has an embassy in Rome,[101] which was established as a legation in 1921, and was upgraded to embassy in 1960.[102] Italy has an embassy in Kabul.[103]
  • Italy was among the first nations to recognise Afghanistan's sovereignty, following the 1919 recognition by the Soviet Union.[104]
  • Following Germany's 1935 closening with Afghanistan, Italy also established close relations. Afghanistan resisted calls from Moscow and London to expel the Italian and German diplomatic corps for most of World War II.[105]
  • Italy has served as a place of exile for two former Afghan kings, Amanullah Khan (deposed 1929) and Mohammed Zahir Shah (deposed 1973).

Relations between two countries have been wonderful. Bangladesh is a huge import market for Italy. Italy has an embassy in Dhaka. Bangladesh has an Embassy in Rome.

 AustraliaSee Australia–Italy relations
 AzerbaijanSee Azerbaijan–Italy relations
 GeorgiaSee Georgia–Italy relations
 India1950See Foreign relations of India#Italy

In 2012, relations deteriorated following the Enrica Lexie Case

 Indonesia1952See Indonesia–Italy relations
  • Both nations have shown strong desire to improve their relations, especially in intercultural understanding and trade.[119]
  • Indonesia recognizes Italy's strategic location and important role in the middle of Mediterranean region, while Italy has favoured relations with Indonesia, and sees Indonesia as the leader in Southeast Asia.[120]
  • The relations between two countries not only important to bridge the two regional communities; European Union and ASEAN, but also vital as intercultural and interfaith dialog.[121]
  • Indonesia has an embassy in Rome, that also accredited to Malta, Cyprus, San Marino, while Italy has an embassy in Jakarta.
 MalaysiaSee Italy–Malaysia relations
 New Zealand
  • Pakistan and Italy enjoy close relationship in all fields. Both countries formally have friendly foreign relations.[130] There are over 100,000 Pakistanis living in Italy, mainly living in Milan and Brescia.[131]
  • Pakistan has an embassy in Rome and a Consulate-General in Milan for representation
  • Italy maintains an embassy in Islamabad, a Consulate-General in Karachi and an honorary consulate in Lahore.
 People's Republic of China1970See People's Republic of China – Italy relations

In 2005, Italy and the People's Republic of China have celebrated the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations. However, China's massive exports of textile and footwear into Italy are said to be a rising concern to Italy's economy and productivity.[132]

 Philippines1947See Italy–Philippines relations
  • Italy and the Philippines bilateral and diplomatic relations is established in 1947. A Treaty of Friendship which was signed in Rome and ratified on December 1948. Italy has an embassy in Manila and the Philippines has an embassy in Rome.
 North Korea2000-01-04[133] See Foreign relations of North Korea
 South Korea26 June 1884[134] See Italy – South Korea relations
  • The establishment of diplomatic relations between Italy and South Korea began on 26 June 1884.
  • Italy has a Working Holiday Program Agreement with South Korea.
  • During the Korean War Italy sent medical staff to help the South Korea .
  • Italy has an embassy in Seoul.[135]
  • South Korea has an embassy in Rome.[136]
  • Bilateral Trade in 2014
    • Exports 3,473,000,000 US dollars
    • Imports 6,260,000,000 US dollars
  • Bilateral Investments in 2014
    • South Korea's Investment in Italy 654,000,000 US
    • Italy's Investment in South Korea 539,000,000 USD
  • The number of the South Koreans living in Italy in 2012 was about 4,054.
  • The Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti visited Seoul in March 2012. (To attend the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit)
  • The President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye visited Rome in October 2014.
  • From 20 to 24 November 2011, 54 participating Italian companies, 8 trade associations and chambers of commerce and 7 banks, held over 300 meetings with 139 Korean companies. The events were promoted by Confindustria (the Italian employers’ federation), the Italian Banking Association (ABI), the Ministry for Economic Development (MiSE) and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA). It took the form of seminars, workshops, B2B meetings and institutional events, as well as visits to representations of Korean industry. This was the first structured initiative, with a broad-ranging business representation in Korea, by the Italian economic system since the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) entered into force.[137]

International institutions

Italy is part of the UN, EU, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE the DAC, the WTO, the G6, G7, G8, G10, G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Latin Union, the Council of Europe, the Central European Initiative, the ASEM, the MEF. Italy leads the Uniting for Consensus and participates in prominent decision-making groups such as the EU big four, the Quint and the Contact Group.

See also


  2. (Italian) Documento programmatico pluriennale per la Difesa per il triennio 2014-2016. Italian Ministry of Defence, August 2014.
  3. Martin Collier, Italian Unification 1820-71 (2003)
  4. Taylor, Struggle for Mastery pp 99-125
  5. E.E.Y. Hales (1954). Pio Nono: A Study in European Politics and Religion in the Nineteenth Century.
  6. Charles Stevenson, A Box of Sand: The Italo-Ottoman War 1911-1912: The First Land, Sea and Air War (2014)
  7. Nigel Thomas. Armies in the Balkans 1914–18. Osprey Publishing, 2001, p. 17.
  8. Sara Lorenzini, "The roots of a 'statesman': De Gasperi's foreign policy," Modern Italy (2009) 14#4 pp 473-484.
  11. Arbëreshë people
  12. 1 2
  13. Belarusian embassy in Rome (in Italian and Russian only)
  14. Italian embassy in Minsk (in Italian and Russian only)
  15. Belgian embassy in Rome (in Dutch, French and Italian only)
  16. Italian embassy in Brussels
  17. Italian general consulate in Charleroi
  18. Italian general consulate in Liège (in French and Italian only)
  19. Italian consulate in Genk (in Dutch and Italian only)
  20. Italian consulate in Mons (in French and Italian only)
  21. Bulgarian general consulate in Milan
  22. Bulgarian embassy in Rome
  23. Italian embassy in Sofia.
  24. Italian embassy in Nicosia
  25. Czech embassy in Rome
  26. Czech general consulate in Milan
  27. Italian embassy in Prague
  28. Estonian embassy in Rome
  29. Italian embassy in Tallinn
  30. Italian Embassy in Helsinki
  31. Finnish Embassy in Rome
  32. Hungarian embassy in Rome (in Hungarian and Italian only)
  33. Hungarian general consulate in Milan (in Hungarian and Italian only)
  34. Italian embassy in Budapest (in Hungarian and Italian only)
  35. Icelandic embassy in Paris (also accredited to Italy)
  36. Italian embassy in Oslo (also accredited to Iceland)
  37. "Irish embassy in Rome". 2010-05-21. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  38. "Italian embassy in Dublin". 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  39. "Consiglio dei Ministri n. 93 del 21 febbraio 2008" (in Italian). Italian Council of Ministers. 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  40. "Kosovo, Italia riconosce indipendenza" (in Italian). La Stampa. 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  41. "Italy appoints Ambassador to Kosovo" 16 May 2008 Link accessed 15/05/08
  42. Italian embassy in Riga
  43. Latvian embassy in Rome
  44. Italian embassy in Vilnius
  45. Lithuanian embassy in Rome
  46. Italian embassy in Luxembourg City (in French and Italian only)
  47. Luxembourg embassy in Rome (in Italian only)
  48. Dutch representations in Italy
  49. Dutch embassy in Rome (in Dutch and Italian only)
  50. Dutch general consulate in Milan(in Dutch and Italian only)
  51. Italian embassy in The Hague (in Dutch and Italian only)
  52. Italian general consulate in Amsterdam (in Dutch and Italian only)
  53. Italian embassy in Warsaw
  54. Poland embassy in Rome
  55. Italian embassy in Bucharest
  56. Romanian embassy in Rome (in Italian and Romanian only)
  57. Italy, Russia sign 'protocol of cooperation' - Pravda.Ru
  58. Italian embassy in Belgrade (in Italian and Serbian only)
  59. Italian embassy in Kiev (in Italian and Ukrainian only)
  60. Ukrainian consulates in Italy (in Italian only)
  61. Embassy of Italy in London: Political Cooperation
  62. Italy Country Profile, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  63. Bilateral Relations British Embassy, Italy
  64. Embassy of Argentina in Rome (in Spanish)
  65. Consulate-General of Argentina in Milan (in Italian and Spanish)
  66. Embassy of Italy in Buenos Aires (in Italian and Spanish)
  67. Embassy of Brazil in Rome (in Italian and Portuguese)
  68. Consulate-General of Brazil in Milan (in Italian and Portuguese)
  69. Embassy of Italy in Brasilia (in Italian and Portuguese)
  70. Canadian officies in Italy
  71. Italian embassy in Ottawa
  72. Italian general consulates in Toronto
  73. Italian general consulates in Vancouver
  74. Embassy of Chile in Rome (in English and Spanish)
  75. Embassy of Italy in Santiago (in Italian and Spanish)
  79. Embassy of Mexico in Rome (in Italian and Spanish)
  80. Consulate of Mexico in Milan (in Italian and Spanish)
  81. Embassy of Italy in Mexico City (in Italian and Spanish)
  82. Italian embassy in Asuncion
  83. Paraguay embassy in Rome (in Spanish only)
  84. Embassy of Italy in Lima (in Italian and Spanish)
  85. Embassy of Peru in Rome (in Italian and Spanish)
  86. Italian embassy in Montevideo (in Italian and Spanish only)
  87. Italy remains top trading partner of Iran in EU
  89. Italian general consulates in West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem
  90. Italian embassy in Tel Aviv
  91. Israeli embassy in Rome (in Italian only)
  92. (Italian) Lebanese Embassy in Italy
  93. Italian embassy in Tripoli
  94. Italian embassy in Pretoria
  95. Italian consulate in Cape Town
  96. South African embassy in Rome
  97. Italian embassy in Tunis (in French and Italian only)
  98. Italian embassy in Ankara
  99. Turkish embassy in Rome
  100. Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Italy
  101. Embassy history, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Italy
  102. Embassy of Italy in Kabul
  103. Amin Saikal, Ravan Farhadi, Kirill Nourzhanov. Modern Afghanistan: a history of struggle and survival. I.B.Tauris, 2006. ISBN 1-84511-316-0, ISBN 978-1-84511-316-2. Pg 64
  104. Tom Lansford. A bitter harvest: US foreign policy and Afghanistan. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2003 ISBN 0-7546-3615-1, ISBN 978-0-7546-3615-1. Pg 2
  105. Armenian embassy in Rome
  106. Italian embassy in Yerevan
  107. Australian embassy in Rome
  108. Italian embassy in Canberra
  109. Italian general consulate in Sydney
  110. Italian general consulate in Perth
  111. Azerbaijani embassy in Italy
  112. Italian embassy in Azerbaijan
  113. Georgian embassy in Rome
  114. Italian embassy in Tbilissi
  115. Indian embassy in Italy
  116. Italian embassy in India
  117. Italian consulate in India
  118. png/dic (June 2, 2012). "Italy to boost relations with RI, honors 3 Indonesians". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  119. "Italy-Indonesia: possible trade increase from $4.5 to 25 billion - partnership for major investments, says Terzi". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  120. Mathias Hariyadi (2012-04-24). "Jakarta and Rome promoting interfaith dialogue to counter extremism". Asia News. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  121. Italian embassy in Tokyo (in Italian and Japanese only)
  122. Italian general consulate in Osaka
  123. Japanese embassy in Rome (in Italian and Japanese only)
  124. Japanese general consulate in Milan (in Italian and Japanese only)
  125. "Ambasciata d' Italia a Kuala Lumpur" (in Italian). Ambasciata d' Italia a Kuala Lumpur. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  126. "Malaysia Embassy In Rome". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  127. Italian embassy in Wellington
  128. New Zealand embassy in Rome
  131. People's Daily Online - China-Italy relations experiencing "powerful acceleration": Fini
  137. Italian embassy in Bangkok
  138. Thai embassy in Rome
  139. Italian embassy in Hanoi

Further reading

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