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FOLLOWING THE EUROPEAN UNION

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Wed 2 Jul, 2003 06:42 am
What did I say?
(since it's a "breaking news", I don't give the link but cpoied and paste it)
Quote:
Cox suspends parliament after Berlusconi jibe
02/07/2003 - 13:07:38

Italian premier Berlusconi provoked uproar in the European Parliament today by telling a German critic that he should star as a Nazi concentration camp guard in a film.

The remark drew a rebuke from the parliament president, Pat Cox, who suspended the session after the flamboyant Berlusconi refused to withdraw his comments.

During a question and answer session after Berlusconi's speech, German socialist Martin Schultz referred to the Italian leader's use of an immunity law to sidestep bribery charges in an Italian court.

"In Italy, they are making a movie on Nazi concentration camps," Berlusconi snapped back. "I will propose you for the role of capo (Chief)."

The comment triggered outrage among the 626 members of the EU assembly in Strasbourg.

Berlusconi's words "debase the presidency of the council and offend Europe," said Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in the European Parliament.

Schultz said the comment showed Berlusconi was unfit to represent Europe.

Berlusconi appeared before the parliament to outline his government's plans for the European Union presidency, which it assumed on Tuesday for six months.

He promised to work to improve ties with the United States following the Iraq war and to involve Europe in the search for Middle East peace.

However, attention quickly focused on Berlusconi's wheeler-dealer image and allegations by his critics that he is unfit to represent Europe.

Italy assumed the rotating presidency on the same day a Milan court suspended Berlusconi's trial for bribery.

The trial was halted after the Italian Parliament last month pushed through legislation granting legal immunity to top Italian officials.

As Berlusconi rose to address the 626 member parliament, seven Green party members held up placards saying "everybody is equal under the law."

Berlusconi went further to slam his numerous critics in the chamber.

"If this is your idea of democracy, you ought to visit Italy as tourists, " Berlusconi said. "You are behaving as tourists."

Schultz and Cox demanded an apology for the Nazi remark, but Berlusconi would not budge from his comments, which he said were an "ironic joke."

"I regret the offence caused to a respected member, my colleague Mr Schultz," Cox said. "It would be appropriate to correct the record in this regard. The debate is now closed."

In a news conference, Berlusconi again refused to apologise, insisting the comment was meant as joke inspired by the German legislator's "tone and gestures."

"My joke wasn't meant to be offensive," Berlusconi said. "It was an ironic joke, perhaps the translation wasn't done in an ironic sense."

During his speech, Berlusconi promised to work to improve ties with the United States following the Iraq war and to involve Europe in the search for Middle East peace.

A staunch supporter of US President George Bush, Berlusconi said boosting the EU's role on the world stage would only work if it renewed ties with Washington.

Berlusconi also pledged that his government would complete negotiations on a constitution for an expanded EU and combat illegal immigration.

"The Italian presidency will do all in its power … to take responsible decisions on our future," Berlusconi said.

"There is a great deal of moral and intellectual responsibility on our shoulders."

He also pointed to the need to kick-start the EU's sputtering economy by investing in large EU-wide upgrades of transport networks, which he said would lead to new jobs and investment.

Even before the concentration camp remark, the debate focused as much on Berlusconi's personal suitability for the EU's top job, as on his presidential agenda.

Green leader Monica Frassoni likened Berlusconi to the Attila the Hun, whose barbarian hordes ravished Europe in 5 AD, without regard for the law.

"Many people have been worried at your arrival, as an Attila of the Union," Frassoni said. "Political power I'm afraid leads to temptations to be above the law."

Berlusconi is also Italy's richest man. He controls a media empire that includes the nation's largest private television broadcaster, Mediaset.

Together with state-run RAI, he directly or indirectly controls about 90% of Italy's television market, leading critics to charge he has too much influence over information that he can use for his political and personal gain.
from: Ireland online
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Wed 2 Jul, 2003 07:35 am
Quote:
Euro vote ends GM food ban


The growth of GM crops has sparked many protests
Laws which will end a European Union-wide ban on new genetically modified foods have been passed by the European Parliament.

The laws allow new GM foods to be sold in Europe for the first time in five years, but only if they are clearly labelled.
BBC-article
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Wed 2 Jul, 2003 09:33 am
Walter, Also just read in our local newspaper that the 12 countries of the Euro are hurting from a 8.8 percent unemployment rate. I'm sure that's only a symptom of how the world economies are hurting, and the true rate is probably about 15 percent, because many who have looked for jobs for a long period of time and couldn't find anything just give up - as they do in this country. c.i.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Wed 2 Jul, 2003 09:37 am
c.i.

That's a little bit different - those are the the people, who get money fromm the state (and this is much, much longer than in the USA) and/or declare that they look for a job.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Wed 2 Jul, 2003 10:00 am
Walter, I also understand the social umbrealla safety net you have in Europe are most often better than what we have here in the states. That's one of the reasons many governments in Europe are now trying to reverse the high cost of those same safety nets. Once implemented, it's doubly hard to reverse them - that's human nature. c.i.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 08:37 am
Does anyone have any numbers which show the comparison between the world/EU/USA economies of today vs a known historical period?
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frolic
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 09:11 am
Problem is many people with a job in the US are still below the povertyline and need some food-program to help them out. In Europe there are decent minimum wages so people with a job are far better off.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 03:06 pm
E.U. Parliament ponders demanding apology from Berlusconi

Quote:
BRUSSELS JULY 3. The European Parliament leaders were in a crisis meeting on Thursday considering whether to demand an official apology from the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, for telling a German E.U. lawmaker that he would make a good Nazi concentration camp guard in a film...


CHECK TITLE TO READ ARTICLE

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/images/2003070402421401.jpg
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 03:12 pm
The latest

Berlusconi regrets Nazi jibe
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Sofia
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 03:44 pm
That was pretty rough. How much trouble can Berlusconi be in due to his remark? Any repurcussions?
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 03:50 pm
Not much, I hope.

Besides some few other conservatives, he has no friends in Europe.

However, since more than 90% of Italian tv is belonging to his imperium, he is more than just influentual in Italy.

Regarding Europe/EU, I have the same opinion as the BBC-correspondant: this will lead to a quicker change in the procedure of EU-presidency than thaught before!
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 03:58 pm
Berlusconi is an embarassment to Italy and to Europe.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 04:02 pm
I don't know much about Berlusconi's domestic policies or history other than his behavior during the Iraq build-up and war, but that comment was far outside the realm of acceptability, IMO.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 04:05 pm
Profile: Berlusconi
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 04:07 pm
Berlusconi is the media mogul of Italy. His tv stations openly work to favor his policies. He has been involved in several corruption scandals and is looking for judicial inmunity.

His main allies are Alleanza Nazionale (neofascist), and Lega Nord (separatist, racist). His party (Forza Italia) is the moderate one in the right wing block.

What's his catch? He proclaims himself as the only one who can prevent Italy from turning to the Socialist left.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Thu 3 Jul, 2003 04:21 pm
I can't criticise his views about socialism--but I am amazed you don't have to divest of interests in the media before running for President!
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Fri 4 Jul, 2003 12:15 am
A simple answer: Italy.

And re. soialism vs. conservatism there, think of Mussolini.

It might be of interest as well to read a little about Don Camillo and his world
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Fri 4 Jul, 2003 10:23 am
Walter,

I used to live in the zone where Don Camillo's and Onorevole Peppone's adventures take place.
Some of the films are truly funny. And they are good portraits of post-war Italy (even if the author Guareschi clearly sides with Don Camillo).

It shows two things. One is the confrontation of values between Christian corporativism and Socialist liberalism, Italian style. The other is the mutual understanding -based in human solidarity- between the two opposite currents.
That's why some viewed the Don Camillo-Peppone friendship as an alegory of the "Historical Compromise" sought by some Christian Democrats and Communists in the 70's.

The Red Brigade assasination of Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro, in 1978; the death of charismatic Eurocommunist leader Enrico Berlinguer, one or two years later and, finally, the decomposition of the old party regime, led to a new situation, where dreams have faded, mutual understanding is gone, and sharks like Berlusconi have the upper hand.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Fri 4 Jul, 2003 11:15 am
Berlusconi Refuses to Lay Nazi Row to Rest
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nimh
 
  1  
Fri 4 Jul, 2003 05:07 pm
fbaezer wrote:
That's why some viewed the Don Camillo-Peppone friendship as an alegory of the "Historical Compromise" sought by some Christian Democrats and Communists in the 70's.

The Red Brigade assasination of Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro, in 1978; the death of charismatic Eurocommunist leader Enrico Berlinguer, one or two years later and, finally, the decomposition of the old party regime, led to a new situation, where dreams have faded, mutual understanding is gone, and sharks like Berlusconi have the upper hand.


I can see a point about loss of innocence (or dreams) through the events you mention (Aldo Moro), but i hope noone interprets the above as, you know, meaning that "the old party regime" was good. The old system as the embodiment of "mutual understanding" - thats being way too nice for it.

The reason the old party system broke down in the early nineties was because it was rotten to the core. Christian-Democrats, Socialists (in fact free-market minded opportunists) and Communists had divided up the pie thoroughly: each had one of the three public TV stations as a mouthpiece, and on local/regional level each had their own government domains to rule. On the national level the Communists were forever isolated while the other two, by consequence, were forever in power. It had lead to a massive corruption, infesting the system with links between government and mafia at every level, with many-time Prime Minister Andreotti taken to be deeply involved himself. Legality and illegality turned out to be intertwined, and much of the terrorist violence of the 70s etc, which was perpetrated by both radical left and shadowy right-wing organisations, actually came forth from this system. The Communist Party, in its turn, remained relatively clean only because of the extent to which it'd been isolated.

When first, anticipating on and reacting to 1989, the Communists drastically renewed themselves and renamed themselves the Party of the Democratic Left - and then the Christian Democrats broke away from tradition (and then broke up altogether) as the corruption/mafia scandals finally came 'above table' one after the other, it was a very hopeful time, a time of renewal. Di Pietro, the prosecutor who dug up so many of the scandals and forced prominent politicians to finally account for their actions, was a public hero then. The relatively small Socialist party, which had been the private 'kingdom of the particularly corrupt Craxi, simply dissapeared entirely; the Christian-Democratic moloch split up in left and right-wing groupings that all distanced themselves from the old ruling cliques, and the ex-Communists started working together with various left-liberal groups in coalitions like "the Olive". New centre-left and centre-right parties were founded by the dozens, opening up the cronyist system in which every single job and assignment had been determined by party affiliation. Even in Siciliy an anti-mafia party (La Rete) made deep inroads in city government.

Its just a pity that all the hopes which the crumbling of the old system had evoked, have all come to naught. In the end, the unfamiliarness of the new situation just became too much for many Italians, I guess. In the old system, you knew what to expect - which party to be a member of, who to pay off, end of story, nobody bothers you as you go on with your business. Life became more complicated when everything was suddenly exposed and debated and you didnt know which law might suddenly start to be enforced again. That should explain how Berlusconi could enter the scene - a strong man, not all too hindered by all those abstract, troublesome principles, someone who can make things work. A no-nonsense business tycoon who could run the country like he did his hyper-successful enterprises, with authority and pragmatism. Someone who wont make your life difficult about those little pay-offs, tax evasions and other stuff that you used to do to make life go smooth, cause he understands about them. (Remember that Italy is a country of small entrepreneurs - the average size of a business is five employees, I believe).

Berlusconi is the counter-revolution, one could say - always fulminating against "the red judges", driving through an immunity law in parliament several days before he had to appear for one of the numerous cases of coorruption hed been involved in himself - just last week or the week before; always railing against critical journalists and academics and other members of the "chattering classes", and insisting that instead of all this chaotic critical questioning there should be respect for the authority of government (and business) leaders again ...

He used democracy to win and he'll surely stick to its basic rules, but he has little truck with its values. But, like his erstwhile Slovak counterpart Meciar, the cruder he is, the harsher he cracks down on his critics, the more cocksure he slams, then waves away, his parliamentary critics, the more popularly he becomes among the slightly over 50% of Italians that support the present government. The slightly less than 50%, meanwhile, are ever more exasperated, desperate, or, (as our Italian colleagues after this newest episodes were) just downright embarassed. La Republicca published a cartoon on its front page saying something like, "5 months and 28 days to go until the Irish [EU] presidency" ...
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