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Italy’s Berlusconi calls for EUROPEAN ARMY as he targets seat in European elections

Italy’s Berlusconi calls for EUROPEAN ARMY as he targets seat in European elections

ITALY’s controversial former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has emphasised his wish for the EU to become a world power on a military level as he signalled his intention to campaign in the European Parliamentary elections.

By CIARAN MCGRATH. Express.co.uk

PUBLISHED: 10:30, Tue, May 7, 2019 | UPDATED: 10:48, Tue, May 7, 2019

Following his discharge from hospital Mr Berlusconi echoed calls by French President Emmanuel Macron for a European army and immediately sounded a warning about his country’s gloomy economic prospects. The 82-year-old has been banned from taking public office until this year as a result of a tax fraud conviction – but is a candidate in the forthcoming poll for Forza Italia, the party he founded 25 years ago. Speaking to journalists as he left San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, where he underwent intestinal surgery, he said: “I am fine. I was afraid.

“So many things have happened recently that I thought it was the end for me, but I recovered very well. “I still feel useful for the future of Italians, Europeans and of the West.” “Everything is okay. I promised my doctors a few days of rest this week, so I will participate in the campaign in the last two weeks before the election.”

He explained he would not be campaigning in person, but would be making radio and television appearances. Mr Berlusconi said he would be taking a rest for a while and had no plans to take part in any election rallies. However, he said he would campaign for a seat in the European Union legislature on TV, radio and other media.

And he immediately turned his attention to problems facing the government, with deep divisions emerging between coalition partners Lega, led by Matteo Salvini, and the Five Star Movement, led by Luigi Di Maio.

Mr Berlusconi said: “The European elections are important because we are facing a very serious situation. “This government can only do one thing well: to squabble. But Italy has stopped growing with them. “There are no jobs. Many companies are closing. “Thousands of young people have been forced to emigrate to find a job. “Many things are not okay. There is nothing positive.”

Mr Berlusconi said he hopes Forza Italia will be a linchpin of a majority centre-right alliance in the European Parliament which could keep nationalist forces at bay. He laid out a vision for a trans-European centre-right partnership, including perhaps Mr Salvini and “that crazy head of Orban”, a reference to right-wing Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.

Mr Salvini has been wooing Mr Orban for a different political alliance, and the two bonded in Hungary last week over their determination to keep migrants and asylum-seekers out of Europe.

The Lega leader has been working with far-right movements in France, Germany and other northern countries to create a strong populist group in the European Parliament, with the aim of reshaping the continent’s policies.

Mr Berlusconi said he wants to see the EU become a world power on a military level and to “assume the role of unifying the West, which today is divided”.

If elected to the European Parliament, it would be Mr Berlusconi’s first public office since he was forced to give up his Italian Senate seat due to a ban from a 2012 tax fraud conviction.

Citing his good conduct, a court last year ruled Mr Berlusconi could be a political candidate again.

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