Italy - Foreign policy

Like his predecessor Giuliano Amato, Berlusconi supports continued Italian integration into a united Europe, along with a continuation of pro-Western, pro-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and pro-United Nations (UN) policies. Berlusconi is unapologetically conservative in his views on immigration, particularly illegal immigration in light of the reconstruction of Serbia and Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia) and Albania.

Italy has more than 10,000 troops involved in peace-keeping abroad. The most significant presence is in Kosovo, where Italy is in charge of one of the five military sectors. It also has a large contingent in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Italy continues to support institutional reforms of the European Union (EU) in order to bring about greater transparency and effectiveness. Berlusconi is regarded warily by many European leaders for his legal difficulties and for his right-leaning stand on immigration issues. Ultimately, his fitness to serve will be judged abroad on his ability to stabilize Italy politically.

Berlusconi stood behind U.S. president George W. Bush in his determination to forcibly disarm Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in early 2003, despite public opinion in Italy against the war. "We are in favor of peace," Berlusconi said in January 2003, "but we cannot share responsibility for giving in to those who threaten our security, our liberty, and our democracy." In January 2003, 75% of Italians were against the war, which began on 19 March. In siding with the United States, he joined with the United Kingdom (UK), Spain, and many Eastern European countries in opposing the anti-war stance taken by France, Germany, and Russia on the UN Security Council. This rift within Europe, with respect to the war, is expected to have lingering consequences in Europe's future.

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