• India and Italy are expected to put nearly a decade of tensions over the arrest of Italian marines and other issues firmly behind them with discussions about a bilateral defence cooperation that is likely to be announced during Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s visit to India.
  • Meloni, the far-right Italian leader who is travelling to Delhi as chief guest of the Raisina Dialogue conference on March 2, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, three months after they met on the sidelines of the G-20 conference in Bali.

Indo-Pacific strategy

  • Significantly, during 2012-2015, when Italy-India ties nosedived over the arrest of two Italian marines for the killing of Kerala fishermen off the Indian coast
  • In 2015, Italy also vetoed India’s application to join the exclusive club of countries in the Missile Technology Control Regime, and lobbied for India to be designated a human rights violator at the European Parliament.

Defence cooperation

  • In addition, the controversy surrounding the Agusta Westland VVIP helicopter deal disrupted bilateral relations as well as defence cooperation for several years. Even so, Italy remained involved in India’s defence industry in some ways.
  • For instance, Fincantieri of Italy is the know-how provider for technology upgrade and capability enhancement for India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier project, INS Vikrant, which was commissioned last September.
  • In November 2021, days after Mr. Modi’s meeting with then Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Rome, the Defence Ministry decided to lift the ban on Italian defence company Leonardo involved in the VVIP helicopter deal.
  • The Indian Navy’s French-origin Scorpene-class submarines are still without ‘heavy-weight torpedoes’ after Leonardo was blacklisted.
  • India and Italy are also engaged in multilateral fora in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific.


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