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Berlusconi advocates a quick return to the house of the "ragazzi" of Afghanistan (update)

(BRUSSELS2) Silvio Berlusconi, upon his arrival at the European Council, caused a sensation by seeming to support the idea of ​​a withdrawal of Italian troops from Afghanistan. Certainly, it was surrounded by a thousand precautions, emphasizing that it is “of an international problem and not of a single country. And to withdraw would be to betray the agreement and the trust of the people“. But it was spontaneous, the President of the Italian Council answered questions from journalists, placed (as is usual) behind security barriers. He could choose not to answer. He answered it. And he is thus the first head of government of the coalition engaged in Afghanistan to publicly declare, after the death of several of his soldiers that: “We are all convinced that we must do everything to get our boys home as soon as possible.".


Photo credit: © Thierry Monasse

Big reduction, fast. The Italian leader then clarified that there would quickly be “a sharp reduction in the quota". "500 soldiers will go home“. In fact, this is the additional contingent sent for the elections. A decision that several countries seem determined to follow: the additional contingents sent for the elections will not stay (which confirms the trend that I indicated on this blog in July). “A decision that could be taken, in consultation with our international partners, in the days and weeks to come.”

“Difficult to bring democracy to others“. It is true that in Italy, the death of the six Italians was felt with emotion (see minute of silence in the European Parliament) and takes a very political turn, dividing even the majority. Paradoxically, it is with his right-wing allies in government that Berlusconi has the most to do. Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League, spoke out very frankly on Thursday for an “end of the mission”.
The mission in Afghanistan is over – he declared in Monfalcone (Gorizia). “Even if there is someone who will say that, it is like conceding a victory to terrorism. Perhaps this is partly true. But it is difficult to succeed in bringing democracy into other people’s homes”. And to add: “Ihope that at Christmas everyone will be home”. A decision shared on the other side of the board by the “Italy of Values” party of former anti-mafia judge, Antonio Di Pietro. Most of the other parties are more mixed (Berlusconi's PDL, centrist UDC and social democrats. The President of the Republic, Napolitano (social democrat), was thus much more circumspect, considering that he “"We first needed a debate in Parliament before taking a decision."

Photo: Corriere della Sera / agencies

Comments: an air of stampede. Specifies in the calendar: “as soon as possible","decision in the coming days“, this “decision” remains unclear in the extent of the reduction, emphasizing however that it will be “strong” and accompanied by a “consultation with partners“… This is a typical example of a political declaration that takes care of itself. To the point that we can say that there is a non-decision.
But publicly we will only remember one thing: “Berlusconi announces withdrawal“. This Italian “non-decision” is the worst of all. Unthought out, unjustified, enacted “on the street corner”, it presents an air of disarray, harmful. It supports the idea that a few deaths are enough to lead to the withdrawal of a contingent. It constitutes a tacit encouragement to the rebels to continue and designates as a privileged target the Italians, who become the Achilles heel of the coalition. More than ever, it therefore seems important to publicly address the discussion on the withdrawal timetable.
Read them political comments from “Corriere"
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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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