Italy: Berlusconi ‘reconnects’ with Putin, unrest in coalition

Italy: Berlusconi ‘reconnects’ with Putin, unrest in coalition

Silvio Berlusconi drew a volley of green wood in Italy on Wednesday after he said he would reconnect with Vladimir Putin, who sent him vodka for his birthday, and blame Kyiv for invading Ukraine. “Berlusconi on the run”, “Berlusconi without brakes” and even, for La Repubblica, Giorgia, “Meloni hostage of the pro-Russians”: the Italian press on Wednesday gave a wide echo to the confidences that the billionaire revealed this week to the MEPs made his party, Forza Italia.

Berlusconi disrupts deliberations on new government

With his pro-Putin statements, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday stole the show from President Sergio Mattarella, who was beginning his deliberations on forming a government to be led by Giorgia Meloni.

The discussions that Sergio Mattarella is having with the main institutional actors (chairmen of chambers, leaders of political groups, etc.) have been overshadowed by the storm triggered by statements by Berlusconi, who claimed to have “reconnected” with Vladimir Putin in Kyiv attributed responsibility for the invasion of Ukraine. His Forza Italia party is part of the coalition led by Ms Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia, the far-right party that won the elections with 26% of the vote.

Berlusconi claims he is Putin’s ‘first of five true friends’

His words were leaked and those close to him initially denied it, but then an audio recording was released, shocking Giorgia Meloni, the future prime minister who is working to form a government with her coalition allies Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi and the Lega Matteo Salvini.

“I reconnected a little, a little much, with President Putin, in the sense that Putin sent me 20 bottles of vodka and a very nice letter for my birthday. I answered him by sending him bottles of Lambrusco and a very nice letter. He told me that I was the first of his five true friends,” said the former prime minister, who celebrated his 86th birthday on September 29. Forza Italia hastily issued a statement to explain the position of the party and Silvio Berlusconi To clarify Russia and Ukraine “in line with that of Europe and the United States”.

Antonio Tajani’s position weakened

The left opposition raged. “This is not folklore, these are not jokes. The new majority is initiating a change of course in Italy, towards an increasingly ambiguous attitude towards Russia,” criticized Enrico Letta, leader of the party Democrats, on Twitter. Silvio Berlusconi’s – recurring – statements could weaken the position of Antonio Tajani, a close, pro-European foreign policy maker.

Giorgia Meloni’s entourage tried to calm the situation: “I would avoid involving Tajani,” Francesco Lollobrigida, Fratelli d’Italia MP, said on Wednesday. “He was President of the European Parliament (…) and always defended the Western alliance,” he stressed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But for other sources within Fratelli d’Italia, quoted by the daily The pressure“Berlusconi may have killed Tajani”.

Statements that were already controversial during the election campaign

During the election campaign, Berlusconi caused outrage by claiming that Vladimir Putin wanted to overthrow the government in Kiev in order to put “good people” in their place. In the rest of this audio, a new portion of which was leaked on Wednesday night, he appears to blame Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the war, which he says has “tripled attacks” on the self-proclaimed separatist republics of Donbass.

“In 2014, in Minsk, Belarus, an agreement will be signed between Ukraine and the two newly formed republics in Donbass for a peace agreement and that nobody will attack anyone. A year later, Ukraine throws off this agreement and starts attacking the borders of the two republics,” says Silvio Berlusconi to his elected officials. He conjures up “five-six-seven thousand dead” in these fights. Then “Zelensky comes[topower)andtripledattacksonthetworepublics”thetycoonaddslaterrepeatinghiscommentsfromlateSeptemberthatPutinwas”pushed”byhispopulaceandentouragetoinvadeUkraine

In the face of the outcry provoked by these latest statements, Silvio Berlusconi stressed in a press release that his “personal position and that of Forza Italia do not differ from that of the Italian government, the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance”. the crisis in Ukraine nor to the other big issues of international politics”. He also stressed that it is “impossible to achieve peace if the rights of Ukraine are not adequately protected”.


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