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Britain Could Have Led to a Confrontation

Sept. 2, 2008 (EIRNS)—Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi briefed journalists on his intervention at the EU meeting. He said that a crisis had been defused. "The situation could have been the detonator for a serious crisis," he said, according to La Repubblica. It was especially Great Britain's position—together with eastern European countries—that could have shifted the EU onto a confrontation course. "But even Gordon Brown," Berlusconi said, "asked neither for suspensions nor sanctions."

Berlusconi opposed the characterization of Russia's reaction as "disproportionate," but could not prevent the statement from reproducing it. "I asked, tell me what you think would be 'proportionate'. Nobody was able to give me an answer," Berlusconi said. "It is always difficult to judge a reaction as 'disproportionate.'" The Russians, Berlusconi said, "reacted to the killing of 80 troops and 200 civilians." Berlusoni said he is sure that the Russians want to withdraw all their troops, "which, anyway, it is less than 400 troops, placed at checkpoints to guarantee Ossetia's security."

"Now that the crisis has been defused," Berlusconi said we should ask ourselves why Russia sees some European and NATO initiatives as hostile. Georgia's membership in NATO, for instance: "We must consider the sensitivity of Moscow and of Russian public opinion, who consider NATO as something against Russia." Berlusconi also supported Ossetia's and Abkhazia's claims for independence. According to Il Messaggero, Berlusconi said that their destiny is somehow marked, as "they have had their own parliament and constitution for a long time."