Monday

1st May 2017

Berlusconi calls for EU-US unity on pre-election trip to Washington

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has urged unity between Europe and the US in a common fight against Islamic extremism.

In his speech to a joint session of the US congress on Wednesday (1 March), Mr Berlusconi called for "a grand alliance of all democracies" and warned against a "politically dangerous" tendency in Europe to stand apart from Washington, according to press reports.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"A conception of European unity founded on a fanciful wish for self-sufficiency would be morally suspect and politically dangerous," he said, according to the New York Times.

"The West is, and shall remain, one... We cannot have two Wests. Europe needs America and America needs Europe," added Mr Berlusconi, his words leading to a standing ovation.

While highlighting common transatlantic efforts to fight international terrorism, the Italian prime minister avoided controversial aspects of the war in Iraq, let alone the fact that Rome is planning to pull out its troops from the country by the end of this year.

Strong allies crucial before elections

The broadcast of the speech on Italian television channels owned by Mr Berlusconi’s Mediaset was viewed with dismay in Italy, with the opposition complaining of yet another pre-election move by the campaigning leader.

Mr Berlusconi was just the seventh personality to appear before the top US legislature during George W Bush's administration, following Washington's key allies such as British prime minister Tony Blair, Spanish ex-leader Jose Maria Aznar, Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Ukraine's president Viktor Yushchenko.

According to the Financial Times, the move was even criticised by some US Democrat deputies, rebuffing the move as designed to boost Mr Berlusconi's position before the parliamentary elections in his country, scheduled for 9-10 April.

Recent polls show that the Italian prime minister is currently losing to the center-left coalition, led by the ex-president of the European Commission Romano Prodi.

The Italian economy is currently facing grave problems, with zero growth as well as a looming state budget deficit and debt.

But analysts also point out that the left-leaning opposition is politically weak and fragmented, as opposed to the strongly knit center-right Forza Italia party of Mr Berlusconi.

Moreover, the Italian leader is gaining political points thanks to his powerful media campaign, both due to his strong links with media and his own media-friendly character.

Experts point out he has been on TV or the radio every day, with declarations like a promise to abstain from sex until after election day, or comparing himself to Churchill, Napoleon and Jesus Christ.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

Dont expect 'quick fix' in Syria, China tells EU

Beijing special envoy on the Syrian conflict said in Brussels that "imposing" a solution from the outside would "not be workable" and that the peace process will not be "smooth sailing".

Russia suspected of Macron hack

Likely Russian spies tried to steal email passwords from Macron's people the same way they hacked US elections, new study says.

Russia threat triggers European military spending hike

Russia's annexation of Crimea in Ukraine has intensified military and defence spending throughout much of Central Europe, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Investigation

Illicit Russian money poses threat to EU democracy

It cost €11 million to help Le Pen campaign in elections, but it cost the Russian mafia less than €100,000 to hire a former UK attorney general to lobby against EU sanctions.

Mob storms Macedonian parliament

A nationalist mob violently stormed parliament in Macedonia on Thursday, amid EU concern on police conduct during the attack.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual