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Cablegate: Tfgg01: Debunking the Italian Myth of "Balance" On

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DE RUEHRO #1045 2271404
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O 141404Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0787
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 4441
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI IMMEDIATE 0225
RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE IMMEDIATE 3170
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN IMMEDIATE 9519
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES IMMEDIATE 3317
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0910
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 0344
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 2961
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 4652
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L ROME 001045

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG RU IT
SUBJECT: TFGG01: DEBUNKING THE ITALIAN MYTH OF "BALANCE" ON
GEORGIA

REF: A) ROME 1021 B) ROME 1018 C) ROME 631 D) ROME 545

Cl...

C O N F I D E N T I A L ROME 001045 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2018 TAGS: PREL PGOV GG RU IT

SUBJECT: TFGG01: DEBUNKING THE ITALIAN MYTH OF "BALANCE" ON GEORGIA REF: A) ROME 1021 B) ROME 1018 C) ROME 631 D) ROME 545 Classified By: Ronald P. Spogli, Ambassador, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d ).

1. (C/NF) As originally predicted by post in the early days of the Berlusconi government, the GOI's close relationship with Russia could soon become a point of friction in the otherwise very close U.S.-Italy relationship. The GOI leadership, particularly FM Frattini, have gone to great lengths to insist that the transatlantic community and EU should approach the Georgia-Russia crisis with a sense of "balance." While the MFA and other GOI leaders insist that this means the GOI will not attempt to assign blame to either party, we interpret this to mean that Italy will refrain from pressing Russia on this issue. At best, Italy will refrain from making strong statements or taking action against Russia. At worst, Italy could work to undermine the resolve of other allies in international fora, including NATO and the EU. Statements by GOI leaders on this issue indicate that they believe they have successfully navigated a neutral path between the US and Russia and have been successful in moderating the response of other nations, including those of the U.S. and the EU's newest members in taking a firm line on Russia. 2. (C/NF) We have reached out to the GOI at high levels to advise that Italy must take a principled position on this issue based on objective facts. Additionally, we have advised that the goodwill the new Berlusconi government has engendered in its first months of office could dissipate if its credibility on this issue is damaged. Unfortunately, with the summer vacation period in Italy, many of our key interlocutors in the parliament and Foreign Ministry are not accessible. We will continue to try reach out, but we encourage the Department to instruct our missions in international fora to press this case with Italian permanent representatives - many of whom are senior and influential diplomats and who during this critical time outrank many of the personnel left staffing offices in the MFA - to send this same message back to Rome. SPOGLI

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