BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Membership of the European Union and NATO are cornerstones of Italy’s foreign policy, outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday, ahead of the formation of a new, right-wing government.
“We fully share European and transatlantic values and want to continue to protect and strengthen them,” Draghi told Italian diplomats in Brussels.
“These principles are even more important when dealing with the crises we are going through, from the war in Ukraine to the energy emergency,” Draghi added in his address.
His comments came after Silvio Berlusconi, whose Forza Italia party is set to enter the next government, vaunted his long-standing friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and accused Ukraine of triggering the February invasion.
Berlusconi’s refusal to blame Putin for the war has raised concerns that the incoming government, set to be headed by nationalist leader Giorgio Meloni, might weaken Western resolve in dealing with Moscow.
Meloni issued a statement on Wednesday saying she would not let Italy be the weak link in the West, while senior Forza Italia politician, Antonio Tajani, looked to reassure EU centre-right allies over his party’s foreign policy stance.
“I am in Brussels to once again confirm the position of Forza Italia, its leader Silvio Berlusconi and myself in favour of NATO, transatlantic relations, Europe and against Russia’s unacceptable invasion of Ukraine,” he wrote on Twitter.
(Reporting by Crispian BalmerEditing by Gareth Jones and Gavin Jones)