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Italy’s Berlusconi Dismisses Russia’s ‘Isolation’, Calls Liberal World Order ‘Optical Illusion’

© AFP 2023 / TIZIANA FABIFormer Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi  - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.06.2022
The former Italian prime minister spent much of his premiership seeking to take relations between Rome and Moscow to a new level, and even expressed aspirations for Russia to eventually be incorporated into the European Union.
Silvio Berlusconi has expressed regret that his attempts to bring Russia into the camp of Western powers were “boycotted” by some European leaders in his own time, and suggested that the question of who has been “isolated” as a result of the Ukraine crisis, Russia or the West, is a matter of perspective.
“…Faced with a clear violation of international law and rules that are in force even in times of war, Europe and the West have reacted in a balanced, firm and above all united way. From This point of view, Russia has already lost its game: if it considers the West an opponent, today it faces an opponent much more united and more determined than in recent years. However, things change if we consider the scenario on the global level,” Berlusconi wrote in an op-ed I il Giornale.
The former prime minister suggested that from the latter point of view, “the Ukrainian crisis has made evident a very bitter reality” – that apart from the United States and its allies in Europe, Japan and Australia, few other nations joined the West in its standoff with Moscow, with even Turkey refusing to join its NATO allies in sanctioning Russia.
“Once again I regret that my attempts to bring Russia into the Western camp have been boycotted by some European leaders. If we had succeeded, the European scenario today would be very different,” Berlusconi lamented. “Instead, what the Ukrainian crisis has shown us is an alarming sign for the present and above all the future: Russia is isolated from the West, but the West is isolated from the rest of the world,” he wrote.
The veteran Italian politician, business and media tycoon suggested it was worth remembering that the Western concept of “liberal democracy” applies less that a quarter of the planet’s population, with “the largest countries in the world – China, India, Russia and dozens of Asian, African and Latin American nations not with the West at the moment.”
“After the end of the Cold War, someone carelessly spoke about the ‘end of history’, meaning by this the definitive affirmation, after the fall of Nazism and fascism in 1945 and Communism in 1989, of a liberal world order. This was a grave optical illusion, worsened by the spread, in the West itself, of ideologies and cultural trends that deny the value of our model of civilization,” Berlusconi suggested.
While praising the West’s economic, political and social successes, the former prime minister nevertheless urged leaders to recognize that the Western world, due to an absence of authoritative leadership and a lack of self-confidence, has failed to create a system of alliances or an attractive political or economic model comparable to those proposed by China –like the Silk Road, for other countries to join or follow. “On the contrary, the West has registered some disastrous setbacks, for example in Afghanistan, which have further undermined its credibility in the eyes of the ruling classes and public opinion of the entire plant,” he wrote.
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Berlusconi warned that Europe will face great risks in the decades to come, having neither the military strength nor the geographic isolation that provides North America with a measure of protection.
“One can be ‘economic giants and political dwarves’ only as long as someone else is willing to take charge of our security and freedom…But the signs of the inevitable downsizing of Washington’s role of collective security are increasingly evident as it grows increasingly concerned by the challenge of China in the Pacific,” he wrote.
The politician stressed that the political and military unity of Europe so often talked about is becoming not “just a desirable choice but an unavoidable necessity” in the face of threats from China, Islamist fundamentalism, and waves of uncontrolled migration. Europe needs a common foreign and defence policy, a common energy union, etc., he said.
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Berlusconi served as Italy’s prime minister between 1994-1995, 2001-2006, and from 2008-2011. During his terms in office, he successfully balanced warm relations with both Russia and the United States, and one of the strongest proponents of Russia’s association with, and even eventual integration into, the European Union. Berlusconi struck up a warn personal relationship with Russian presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. These ties cooled dramatically after Moscow began its demilitarization and denazification special operation in Ukraine, with Berlusconi saying he was “deeply disappointed and saddened” by the “behaviour” of Putin, whom he said “seemed a man of democracy and peace” over the 20 years that he’d known him.
Russia began its military operation in February after weeks of escalating shelling and sabotage attacks on the Donbass by Ukrainian forces and fears of a new all-out offensive against the breakaways, and after months of deteriorating ties with NATO over the alliance’s push to incorporate Ukraine into the bloc.
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