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date: 15 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Mediterranean is of strategic importance to Italy. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Christian Democracy’s left wing attempted to pursue a Mediterranean policy independent of NATO, viewing Italy as a bridge between the West and the Arab world. This policy became increasingly hard to sustain during the 1960s, as the US became opposed to Arab nationalism. The 1980s saw the re-emergence of a proactive and independent Mediterranean policy compatible with NATO’s outlook: Italy developed bilateral relations with Arab states and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and promoted multilateral frameworks of dialogue and cooperation. After the Cold War, center-left governments have continued to promote multilateralism and push for greater European involvement in the Mediterranean. Center-right cabinets have adopted an explicitly pro-American stance, and emphasized pragmatic bilateral relations with Arab countries. The Arab Spring and the recession have weakened Italy and undermined its foreign policy: the country seems deprived of a specific Mediterranean policy.

Keywords: foreign policy, Mediterranean, US, Christian Democracy, Arab Spring, Cold War, Palestine Liberation Organization, multilateralism

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