Milan, March 18 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini on Monday slammed an offer by Saudi Arabia to invest 15 million euros in Milan’s world-famous La Scala opera house as part of a five-year partnership deal.
“We must be very careful. Funds for La Scala can come from lots of sources but not from anywhere. This applies to China, as it does to Saudi Arabia,” he told Italy’s Italy’s Rtl Radio 102.5.
“Respect for human rights is the point,” he underlined.
Salvini said he wanted La Scala “to be free, independent and autonomous.”
“If the Swiss want to invest in La Scala, we would not have a problem,” he added.
Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, who chairs La Scala’s board of directors, said on Monday there was no question of La Scala’s director Alexander Pereira being asked to resign over the Saudi funding, 3 million euros of which were allegedly deposited with a Milan notary in late February.
However, Sala said Pereira, who is Austrian, had been “naive” in accepting the Saudi cash before La Scala’s board had discussed the proposed partnership deal.
La Scala’s board was on Monday due to hold talks on the Saudi offer, which has outraged human rights groups and politicians who argue that one of Italy’s most prestigious cultural assets should shun money from the conservative Muslim kingdom accused of repeated rights abuses.