Italy government

The new Italian government will be pro-NATO, pro-Europe, according to Meloni

ROME, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Giorgia Meloni, expected to be Italy’s next prime minister, threw down the gauntlet to her right-wing coalition partners on Wednesday, saying her new government would be pro-NATO and fully part of the EU. Europe. .

His uncompromising statement came after his conservative ally Silvio Berlusconi reiterated his sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin and accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of starting the war.

In a terse statement, Meloni said any party that disagreed with his foreign policy line should not join the government, which is expected to take office next week.

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“Italy with us in government will never be the weak link in the West,” she said.

Meloni has been a staunch defender of Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February and backed Western sanctions against Moscow.

“On one thing, I have been, am and always will be clear. I intend to lead a government with a clear and unequivocal foreign policy line,” she said. “Anyone who disagrees with this cornerstone cannot be in government.”

Berlusconi, 86, is a longtime friend of Putin and in a leaked first audio file on Tuesday he revealed to parliamentarians from his Forza Italia party that he was in contact with the Russian president again and had exchanged “letters sweets” and gifts.

In a second filing, published by the LaPresse news agency on Wednesday, Berlusconi said Ukraine had sunk a 2014 peace deal that aimed to end a separatist war waged by Russian speakers in eastern regions. of Ukraine, in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Echoing Putin’s accusations that have been denied by Ukraine, Berlusconi said Zelenskiy escalated the situation when he came to power in 2019.

Berlusconi also repeated a claim that Putin gave in to internal pressure and only invaded Ukraine to install a new government “of decent people with common sense”.

On Tuesday, after the release of the first recording, Forza Italia said Berlusconi’s view on the war was “in line with the position of Europe and the United States”.

However, naysayers jumped on the twin tapes to accuse Berlusconi of undermining Meloni’s credibility.

“Berlusconi’s comments are very serious and incompatible with Italian and European positions,” said center-left Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta.

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Reporting by Crispian Balmer, editing by Rosalba O’Brien and John Stonestreet

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