BERLUSCONI CORROBORATES MOSCOW’S VERSION OF EVENTS

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Silvio Berlusconi is willing to help out with Russian-American relations

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has stated that Russia’s version of events regarding the August war in the Caucasus is being corroborated by European observers in South Ossetia. He also said that a meeting should be organized between Dmitri Medvedev and Barack Obama.


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has stated that Russia’s version of events regarding the August war in the Caucasus is being corroborated by European observers in South Ossetia. Berlusconi also stressed that a resumption of Russia’s dialogue with NATO and the USA, broken off due to the conflict with Georgia, is a priority objective for Italy, which will take over the rotating presidency of the G8 from January 1. For this purpose, Berlusconi intends to organize a personal meeting between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and Barack Obama, the new president of the United States.

At an end-of-year press conference on December 20, Berlusconi reiterated the need to organize a meeting between the Russian and US presidents, and to avoid any return to “a Cold War climate.”

“Thanks to our real and long-standing friendship with the Russian leadership and the incoming American administration, we have already started working on a possible meeting between Dmitri Medvedev and Barack Obama,” said Berlusconi. He noted that a suitable venue for this meeting could be the G8 summit scheduled to take place on the Italian island of Maddalena in summer of 2009.

Berlusconi has stated on more than one occasion that he is seriously concerned about the state of Russian-American relations and is prepared to act as mediator between Russia and the USA.

Moreover, Berlusconi takes the view that Washington has continually provoked Moscow in recent years, thus placing global security at risk. In one of his speeches, Berlusconi said: “Russia is forced to respond to plans for deploying missile shields in the Czech Republic and Poland, the unilateral recognition of Kosovo, and NATO membership talks with Ukraine and Georgia. That is why President Medvedev announced plans to install missiles in Kaliningrad. We face the danger of returning to a period of terror and confrontation, further decades of a Cold War, and a new arms race between two nuclear powers, each with an arsenal sufficient to wipe out the world’s entire population several times over.”

Italy’s recognition that Russia’s version of events is correct is very important for Moscow. Russia maintains that Georgian troops started the hostilities on August 8, almost entirely destroying the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinval, and killing peacekeepers and civilians, many of whom held Russian citizenship. In response, Russia was forced to carry out a military operation against Georgia.

As the RIA Novosti news agency reports, Berlusconi noted on December 20 that Italy and France played a decisive role in resolving the Caucasus conflict, facilitating the adoption and implementation of a Georgian-South Ossetian conflict regulation plan. “We worked closely with Sarkozy on developing the six-point plan,” said Berlusconi. According to him, these measures made it possible “to avoid not only thousands of further casualties, but also the return of a Cold War.”

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