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Striking a Balance Between Norms and Interests in Italian Foreign Policy: The Balkans and Libya


To what extent is foreign policy driven by norms and/or by interests? Considering the main trends of Italian foreign policy after World War II and two case studies, the Balkans and Libya, this paper investigates the role played by norms and interests and the interconnection between the two in Italian foreign policy. In the Balkans, norms and interests have neatly dovetailed: supporting democratization and the rule of law has also meant furthering Italian security and economic interests in the region. By contrast, Libya was the theatre of an essentially interest-driven foreign policy. Nevertheless, the Italian government’s response to the Libyan crisis between March and May 2011 has interestingly marked a rupture from the recent past.

Revised and updated version of a paper written for the Summer School on "EU as a Normative Power: National Strategic Views on Past Experiences and Challenges" organised from 13 to 16 July 2010 by the EU Institute for Security Studies, the Cambridge University, and the College of Europe Natolin European Centre.