Hospitalized Berlusconi makes first public statements

MILAN (AP) — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has made his first public statements since being hospitalized a month ago, delivering a video address to his Forza Italia political party on Saturday.

Berlusconi, who appeared in the video sitting at a desk set up inside the hospital and flanked by Italian and EU flags, received a standing ovation from the floor of the party congress in Milan. The 86-year-old three-time former premier and media mogul noted that it was the first time since he was hospitalized that he has worn a coat and jacket.

Berlusconi told party members that Forza Italia is “an essential and loyal pillar” of the governing majority led by Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy, and said he was proud of the government’s accomplishments so far, including a reduction in payroll taxes.

Berlusconi was hospitalized at Milan’s San Raffaele hospital with a lung infection on April 5, and doctors later revealed he also has chronic leukemia.

His party is the smallest in Meloni’s coalition, which also includes Matteo Salvini’s League. Berlusconi has a seat in the Senate, but no Cabinet posts.

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