Italy: National Opposition to NATO Policy Interpreted by Berlusconi
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi again criticized NATO policy on Ukraine on Feb. 18. In response to European People’s Party head Manfred Weber, who had canceled an EPP meeting scheduled for June in Naples, the outspoken politician said: “With the world on the verge of a nuclear war between Russia and the NATO countries, I am being criticized because I am asking that together with the support for Ukraine, which has always been shared and voted for by Forza Italia, a negotiations be opened immediately to reach peace.”
Previously, Berlusconi had criticzed Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s servile attitude towards President Zelensky in Brussels on Feb. 13. But his judgement of the Ukrainian President was even more severe: “I would never have gone to talk to Zelenskyy, because we are witnessing the devastation of his country and the massacre of its soldiers and civilians. It would have been sufficient for him to stop attacking the two autonomous republics of Donbass [Donetsk and Lugansk], and this would not have happened…. I judge this gentleman’s behavior very, very negatively,” he added.
While Berlusconi’s statements stirred up the hornet’s nest, including in the office of the Prime Minister itself and in Kyiv, Euromedia Research Director Alessandra Ghisleri revealed that most Italians agree with Berlusconi. “Certainly, what Italians think is very close to what Silvio Berlusconi has said,” for instance on sending weapons. “Italians have always been against that, because they interpret this as an entry into the war, even if an indirect one”, she told La7 television.
Ms. Ghisleri’s assessment was confirmed by two weekly polls conducted Feb. 14 and 20 for the national TV channel Raitre, which put opposition to weapons to Ukraine at 50 and 52%, against 30 and 31% favorable opinions, and 17% neutral.