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Sep 9, 2022
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“Friend of Silvio” will try to convince Putin, but most likely will be recruited into Russia’s allies

Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (left to right)

In the photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (from left to right) (Photo: Mikhail Metzel / TASS)

Leader of the Forza Italia party, former prime minister of the country Silvio Berlusconi could, together with the ex-Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel act as mediators to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. “I think that Merkel with me or herself can try to mediate with Putin, with her I could attempt to persuade,” he said on the air of the Rai1 TV channel.

The former prime minister stressed that he does not see that Russia is suffering economic losses due to sanctions. “It seems to me that she is absolutely capable of resisting sanctions and a gas price ceiling,” Berlusconi said. At the same time, speaking of sanctions against Russia, Berlusconi expressed “regret and disappointment” that Moscow is strengthening “Chinese communist totalitarianism” instead of rapprochement with the European Union.

Recall that from the beginning of the special operation, Berlusconi condemned it, saying that he was disappointed with the actions Vladimir Putin in connection with the events in Ukraine. So what was he going to convince the Russian leader? In need of termination of SVO? And what does he expect?

– Berlusconi, of course, wants to remind himself, and remain in politics, and, in the end, capitalize on his relationship with Putin, – I am sure Associate Professor of the Department of Mass Communications and Media Business of the Financial University under the Government of Russia Gevorg Mirzayan.

– Of course, now among European politicians there is a competition for filling the position of someone who will mediate in the future inevitable negotiations not so much between Ukraine and Russia, but between the EU and Russia – an intermediary, a channel, call it what you like. For some time, he claimed this role Macronbut he did not cope with it and rolled into a hawkish position. This role could be taken Orbanbut it is doubtful that Brussels is ready to give it to him, since this will significantly increase the position of the Hungarian prime minister within the EU. For the same reason, Brussels is not ready to give up this role Erdogan. But Berlusconi or Merkel are quite suitable.

“SP”: – In what status could they negotiate? How legitimate could this status be?

– Usually they negotiate in the status of an intermediary, an ambassador of goodwill, offering “gentleman’s services.” They come, negotiate, sometimes by “shuttle” way – riding back and forth. There is no official status here. The task of the intermediary is to transfer positions. Its legitimacy is only that it is formally trusted by both sides.

“SP”: – Berlusconi, Merkel clearly have more experience with Moscow than the current European leaders, and good personal relations. Does it give them any advantage?

– They are much more experienced, much more constructive, and the burden of aggravating Russian-European relations does not hang on them. Yes, Merkel managed to spoil relations with Putin a little while she was chancellor, but at the same time she was implementing Nord Stream 2. She is an adversary, but a respected adversary, rational, understanding. They discussed and wrote “Minsk-2” with Putin, so they have experience of interaction.

With Berlusconi, the situation is slightly different. Berlusconi is Putin’s personal friend. Therefore, there may be an opinion that if Merkel is more on the side of the West in these negotiations, then Berlusconi is more likely on the side of Putin. Therefore, the option when both of them are intermediaries could suit everyone.

Berlusconi is trying to present himself to the West as a good mediator. He says that I could talk to Putin, who trusts me, unlike you, colleagues, who deceived him by disrupting the “grain deal”. Therefore, I can try to negotiate with him, or at least he will listen to me. And Moscow is really ready to listen to Berlusconi, while clearly understanding that, with all due respect to him, he is not the Prime Minister of Italy, and his signature under a hypothetical agreement will mean nothing. The role of the mediator is not to sign the agreement, but to lead the parties to it. Therefore, I do not rule out that Berlusconi’s mission to convince Putin, at least to establish a constructive dialogue, can lead to something.

“SP”: – And if Berlusconi and Merkel were in power in their countries today, would something really change? Do the personalities of politicians generally influence anything in the current crisis between the Russian Federation and the EU, or are they systemic and for a long time?

The personalities of politicians are of great importance. Sometimes, in order to resolve a crisis, in order to be heard, understood and tried to find a compromise, you just need to talk normally. Politicians deprived of sovereignty could not talk to Putin. Therefore, it is possible that if adequate leaders were in power in Europe – the same Merkel, somewhere it would be possible to find some kind of compromise. But this is all if, yes, if only …

– Up to a certain point, individuals played a role in the politics of the West, – I am sure Head of the Expert Council of the Russian Strategic Development Fund Igor Shatrov.

– Merkel became the last heavyweight, a politician who could somehow protect the interests, the sovereignty of not only Germany, but the entire European Union, to defend the right to an independent foreign policy, which modern Europe is completely deprived of.

The crisis in relations between the EU and Russia, of course, is systemic, strategic, and not momentary. Sooner or later it would have happened. But if these politicians were in power, the transition from cooperation to an actual break in relations would be softer.

“SP”: – In your opinion, with this statement, Berlusconi is trying to somehow remind himself of himself, or what? Is this his initiative or is he being used?

Berlusconi is a more independent politician than Merkel. The fact that he represents Italy, whose political and economic weight is incomparable with the weight of Germany, has an effect. That is, Berlusconi has a lower degree of responsibility for pan-European affairs, and he speaks, rather, on his own behalf, and not on behalf of Italy. Silvio Berlusconi made no secret of his friendly relations with Vladimir Putin for many years. He supported them both when he was prime minister and when he retired. Yes, and Putin did not turn away from his comrade when he was threatened with criminal punishment. That is, their friendship has stood the test of time and hardship.

Judging by the words of Berlusconi, now personal relations have cracked. But maybe this is a specially created appearance. He just wants to meet with Putin and find out how he sees the situation, to hear explanations from the lips of the Russian president. To receive a European mandate for such an intermediary mission would be a great political success, it would bring additional points to Berlusconi’s party in the elections.

So, I think, offering himself as an intermediary, the Italian politician weighed everything a hundred times. First, who, if not him, is capable of such a thing? It is obvious to his colleagues in Europe that he is Putin’s friend and that gives Berlusconi an advantage. Secondly, he himself, I think, would like to understand what is happening, to talk with a friend face to face, but he needs a plausible pretext for a trip to Moscow in the context of the Russophobic campaign that is now unfolding on the continent.

Berlusconi is not the Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, he is a politician of a higher class, let’s say – an aristocrat from politics, so he must do everything in white gloves so that the mosquito does not undermine his nose. Finally, he does not want to repeat the fate of the ex-Foreign Minister of Austria kneisslwho, due to bullying, was forced to move to Lebanon. And, thirdly, it is really beneficial for Berlusconi in domestic political terms. Therefore, it seems to me that the defining motives for this proposal were the personal, exclusively human interest of a friend and the interest of Berlusconi as an Italian politician (not European, but exclusively Italian). The interests of Europe and especially Ukraine, in my opinion, are of little concern to Berlusconi.

“SP”: – At the same time, speaking of sanctions against Russia, Berlusconi expressed “regret and disappointment” that Moscow is strengthening “Chinese communist totalitarianism” instead of rapprochement with the European Union…

— Silvio worries that friend Vladimir turned out to be less liberal and anti-communist than it seemed before. Europeans, the West in general, I think, do not understand China and pay too much attention to the existence of the Communist Party there. Yes, ideology plays a significant role in China’s economic success, but the ideology of modern China is based on a competent symbiosis of the communist idea and Eastern philosophy, where the latter is perhaps the predominant factor.

That is why Berlusconi is surprised at Russia’s rapprochement with communist China, not seeing the forest for the trees: Russia is not moving closer to communist China, but to the world economic leader. Such narrow-mindedness is typical of the modern European, who has been conditioned by ideological dogmas more than any Chinese communist. If the Chinese communist idea allows for private property and capitalism with a human face, then the ideological dogmas of the West no longer allow interpretations and interpretations – everything is just the way it is with us, and nothing else.

“SP”: – And really good relations between Berlusconi and Merkel with the Russian leadership give them some advantages? Is Moscow ready to listen to them?

– Listen – yes, I think I’m ready. To act on orders from the outside – never. I’m not sure about Merkel, but Berlusconi, it seems to me, after several hours of personal informal communication with Putin, is more likely to take the Russian position than take Zelensky’s side.

In general, I would not refuse the services of such influential intermediaries. The only thing I’m not sure is that the West will decide to delegate Berlusconi and Merkel to Moscow.

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