Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has caused an uproar after he compared a German Member of the European Parliament to an extermination-camp capo, European media have reported. Mr Berlusconi's remark came just two days after he began a six-month stint as president of the European Union.
Hoo boy. Now this is fun on so many levels we're almost unsure of where to begin. But we'll keep it short and simple, using as an example the overblown reaction of Gary Titley, who heads up the (UK) Labour Party's delegation of MEPs:
"Nobody was expecting the Italian presidency to self-destruct on day two. Mr Berlusconi shooting from the hip shows his Jekyll and Hyde character; as soon as he's under pressure he loses it. How can you trust him to negotiate in the Middle East or in trade talks with the Americans?"
Oh, yes, trade talks. Look, Mr Titley, from our point-of-view, a straight shooter on the European side might actually be nice. It would sure beat the usual feebleness we get from Europe's trade negotiators, who can't go five minutes without bleating about "Frankenfoods."
Besides, Mr Berlusconi actually gets along with us, so we doubt that he would ever refer to us in such terms. That's more than you can say for French officials, who openly refer to Americans using phrases like "hegemonic vampire cowboy pig-dogs."
We would also note that we thought Mr Berlusconi's comments a welcome slap-down to socialist MEP Martin Schulz, who saw fit to embarrass Mr Berlusconi with a series of questions related to Italian national policy. True, they may not have been the most diplomatic things to say, and we certainly think Mr Berlusconi could have been a bit more witty.
But when all is said and done, we have one thought: we like this EU President.Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 3, 2003 01:28 AM | TrackBack