Monday, January 19, 2009

Berlusconi: continued friend of Israel and agent of freedom

Today, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, along with other European leaders announced how they would contribute to the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Italy's military, one of the more advanced in Europe has contributed greatly to military efforts across the continent and the Middle East and today's announcement by the Italian Prime Minister promised more of the same. Perhaps what makes this announcement particularly impressive (for those who care about what few friends Israel has in the World) is that Berlusconi assured his Israeli counterpart that the Italian navy would lend a hand to avoid the exchange of weapons between certain Middle Eastern governments and Hamas. This of course direclty addresses the concerns Israel has had with previous cease fire proposals; whereby Israel may seize military action but nothing is done to ensure that the exchange of weapons between Hamas and those who sponsor terrorist orgranizations stop.

Berlusconi, who has not hid his ability to mediate with leaders who are rough around the edges ( Putin and Gaddafi) also announced that the Italian Para-Military Police Force, the Carabinieri would assist in humanitarian aid in Gaza and that Italy would contribute to a "Marshall Plan" for the suffering part of Palestine. These statements are also noteworthy in the sense that Berlusconi,commonly known for his eloquence, humour and spontaneity has continuously backed up statements like these with action. The Italian presence in Iraq is one example, Afghanistan another and finally these latest statements will most likely lead to further action that can only bring good to the crisis in the Middle East. Italy continues to contribute to the promotion of freedom and democracy across the globe and they do not shy away from acting on these positions. Berlusconi is often vilified, laughed at and likened to Mussolini but many of his actions as Prime Minister, particularly in foreign affairs, go unnoticed. Given the great deal of good the women and men of Italy have done in Iraq, Afghanistan and shortly in Gaza, we should not wait for history to tell us that Prime Minister Berlusconi was behind all of these initiatives.

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