More than 20,000 Italians have reportedly signed a petition against the decision to deploy 150 Italian soldiers to Latvia; the servicemen are due to be based near the country’s border with Russia as part of a NATO mission.

 

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This week saw the emergence of a petition warning against the deployment of a 150-strong contingent of Italian soldiers to Latvia.

 

“Since sending Italian soldiers [to Latvia] could be considered a provocation against Russia, this move should be banned in a country that rejects war in its constitution,” the petition said.

 

Prominent Italian blogger Tommaso Longobardi, one of those who initiated the petition, said that “we created this document so that those Italians who consider this decision dangerous and unjust could express their opinion.”

 

Longobardi recalled that the Italian Constitution clearly states that “Italy rejects war as a means of encroaching on the freedom of other peoples and as a means of resolving international conflicts.”

 

“Nevertheless, our government is resorting to speculation about ‘strengthening the protection of the eastern and central countries of the alliance,’ using the magic word ‘defense’ to mask a clear provocation against Russia,” he said. 

 

He lamented the fact that “this petition does not have legal force”, but said that “it has a huge symbolic meaning because: people who signed the petition belong to different political parties.”

 

“By signing it, they expressed their indignation over this government initiative,” Longobardi said.

 

“Although the Italian media did not react to the petition, a whole array of foreign newspapers contacted me, and I must thank them for giving me the opportunity to share the views of thousands of Italians with other countries,” he relayed. 

 

“This is why I believe that the petition has justified its goal for it proved that many Italians do not agree with the government’s decision,” he pointed out.

 

He also said that he does not share the viewpoint of Beppe Grillo, leader of Italy’s Five Star Movement party, that the country’s government allegedly seeks to “drag Italy into war.”

 

“I do not think that our government wants to unleash a war, rather, it simply does not have any authority outside Italy, which is why and  it has to blindly stick to NATO’s policy,” Longobardi added.

 

He also said that even though the petition will be sent to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, he is unlikely to heed the opinion of the Italians.

 

Even if the petition collected millions of signatures, there would have been no effect. Suffice it to recall how after the defeat at the referendum, Italian Prime Minister Renzi pledged to leave the political arena, but despite the public’s great dissatisfaction, he continues to deal with politics as if nothing has happened,” Longobardi concluded.

 

Last year, Tancredi Turco, a member of the Italian national parliament, told Sputnik that an announcement that Italy is set to send its troops to join a NATO mission in Latvia is “an alarming sign” because the alliance continues its approach towards Russia’s border.

 

 

 

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