Updated: 31-Jan-2003 NATO Speeches


21 November


by Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy

Thank you, Mr Chairman,

I can only confirm what my colleagues who took the floor before me have already said. This decision is a further step towards the reunification of Europe and of the West as a whole, following the important one taken in Rome with the creation of the Council at 20 to include the Russian Federation. It is a step forward down a long path which must be followed right up to the end, so that we can defend utmost the principles and values which form the basis of our democracies.

I would like to take this opportunity to express the special regard in which the Italians hold the American people and its President. For over 50 years, after paying a heavy toll with their own lives to restore our freedom, they have shouldered most of the economic burden, over two thirds of the Alliance’s military expenditure. NATO has enabled us to maintain peace in a Europe previously always divided by recurring wars, but also to preserve stability and foster development and prosperity.

I believe that these sentiments are deeply rooted in the minds of my fellow citizens, and I think they are also shared by other Europeans. I would therefore like to thank you, President Bush, and thank your great democracy and your great people.

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