Ahead of Italy’s general elections, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he was responsible for bringing the Cold war to an end.
It’s the latest bold claim by the charismatic politician ahead of next month’s election that’s witnessed a bruising campaign.
“When I was in government in 2001, I said publicly that I wanted to end the Cold War, which had been going on for 50 years and was a terrible anguish,” the leader of Italy’s center-right bloc said on a morning television talk show.
Berlusconi’s assertion would surprise most historians, seeing as it is widely believed that the Cold War ended between the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
But according to Berlusconi, it ended in May 2002 at a NATO summit he hosted near Rome attended by U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Reuters writes.
“And I succeeded (in ending the Cold War) because here in Rome, at Pratica di Mare (air base) in 2002 I convinced George Bush and Vladimir Putin, using all my talents of friendly relations, to end the Cold War,” he said.
He said this was done with “the signing of a treaty with NATO that foresaw cooperation between the Russian Federation and NATO in many sectors, starting from drug trafficking and arms trafficking.”
The summit ended with a declaration on NATO-Russia relations that provided mechanisms for consultations and cooperation.
A conservative alliance of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and its right-wing allies – the Northern League and Brothers of Italy – is expected to win the most seats in the March 4 elections.
Berlusconi, 81, who led four governments between 1994 and 2011, has often claimed that during his administrations Italy was more respected internationally than it had been under center-left coalitions of the past few years.