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In quotes: Berlusconi in his own words
Silvio Berlusconi
Berlusconi's loose tongue has often got him into trouble
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is well known for his tendency to
make what one former Italian prime minister Massimo D'Alema has described as
"planetary gaffes".

He is also prone to make out-of-place, and often lewd, jokes - which is said
to be why his minders prevent journalists travelling with him.

Here is a selection of Berlusconi clangers:

# To German MEP Martin Schulz, at start of Italy's EU presidency in July 2003:

"I know that in Italy there is a man producing a film on Nazi concentration
camps - I shall put you forward for the role of Kapo (guard chosen from among
the prisoners) - you would be perfect."

During the controversy raging over the above remark:

I'll try to soften it and become boring, maybe even very boring, but I am not
sure I will be able to do it.

To a German newspaper:

In Italy I am almost seen as German for my workaholism. Also I am from Milan,
the city where people work the hardest. Work, work, work - I am almost
German.

# At the Brussels summit, at the end of Italy's EU presidency, in December
# 2003:

"Let's talk about football and women." (Turning to four-times-married
German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder.) "Gerhard, why don't you
start?"

# On Italian secretaries (comments made at the New York stock exchange):

"Italy is now a great country to invest in... today we have fewer
communists and those who are still there deny having been one. Another
reason to invest in italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb
girls."

# On Mussolini:

"Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini used to send people on vacation
in internal exile."

# In the wake of 11 September:

"We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that
has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and - in contrast with
Islamic countries - respect for religious and political rights, a system
that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance...

"The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a
confrontation with another civilisation, Islam, firmly entrenched where it
was 1,400 years ago."

His response to worldwide condemnation of the above speech:

"They have tried to hang me on an isolated word, taken out of context from
my whole speech."

"I did not say anything against the Islamic civilisation... It's the work
of some people in the Italian leftist press who wanted to tarnish my image
and destroy my long-standing relations with Arabs and Muslims"

# On Italian justice:

"Eighty-five per cent of the Italian press is left-wing and among the
judges it is even worse... There is a cancer in Italy that we have to
treat: the politicisation of the magistracy."

On judges pursuing former prime minister Giulio Andreotti on charges
relating to the Mafia:

"Those judges are doubly mad! In the first place, because they are
politically mad, and in the second place because they are mad anyway. "If
they do that job it is because they are anthropologically different from
the rest of the human race."

On his trial, now suspended, in which he denies charges of bribing judges
to prevent the sale of a state-owned food company to a rival:

"I believed and still believe that citizen Berlusconi should be praised
for having prevented the state's wealth from being looted... I was
expecting a Gold Medal for Civil Worthiness for ensuring the state earned
2,000bn [lire]"

# On Danish PM Anders Fogh-Rasmussen:

"I think I should introduce him to my wife, because he is better-looking
than (Massimo) Cacciari." [Mr Cacciari is a former mayor of Venice
rumoured to be romantically attached to Mrs Berlusconi.]

# On himself:

"The best political leader in Europe and in the world."

"There is no-one on the world stage who can compete with me."

"Out of love for Italy, I felt I had to save it from the left."

"The right man in the right job."

"I don't need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the
world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a
beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice."

# A joke about Aids told by Mr Berlusconi:

An Aids patient asks his doctor whether the sand treatment prescribed him
will do any good. "No," the doctor replies, "but you will get accustomed
to living under the earth."

His response to critics who said the joke was offensive:

"They have lost their minds; they really have come to the end of the line,
indeed they have gone beyond it. I would advise them, too, to undergo sand
treatment..."

# On his conflict of interest as prime minister and one of Italy's biggest
# tycoons, with major media holdings:

"If I, taking care of everyone's interests, also take care of my own, you
can't talk about a conflict of interest."

# On a proposal to base an EU food standards agency in Finland, rather than
# the Italian city of Parma:

"Parma is synonymous with good cuisine. The Finns don't even know what
prosciutto is. I cannot accept this."

# On history:

"The founders of Rome were Romulus and Remulus ..."

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