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March 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 3)
Given the Boot
World Press Review Associate Editor
Silvio Berlusconi spoiled the fun: While Europe enthusiastically
celebrated the euro, the flamboyant media tycoon triggered the
most severe crisis Italy has ever had in its relations with
the European Union (EU). Berlusconi accepted the resignation
of one of the strongest and most experienced pro-European voices
in Italy, Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero, leaving an
empty political hole(Il Sole/24 Ore, Jan. 7).
"wicked witch," Mr. Berlusconi (Photo: AFP).
Ruggiero was ousted on Jan. 5, after having repeatedly criticized
the cabinet for its alleged negative attitudes toward the EU.
Left-leaning papers feared that the resignation would damage
Italys reputation, while the conservative media welcomed
the sacking. The European press was left puzzled. Italy,
snapped Dagens Nyheter (Jan. 7), [takes] on the
role of the wicked witch....Berlusconis government is
Berlusconi, as interim foreign minister, plans to overhaul the
post and pledged to defend Italys national interests,
sounding more hostile to the European idea than any Italian
politician before. Gianfranco Fini of the post-Fascist Alleanza
Nazionale turned overnight into the contender for the vacated
posta frightful prospect for Europes mostly center-left-oriented
leaders. Berlusconi, wrote Corriere della Sera
(Jan. 6), as self-appointed guarantor of foreign policy,
must now explain what policy he intends to guarantee.
But not all the media were skeptical. Il Giornale (owned
by Berlusconi) opined (Jan. 6), It is a good thing that
this soap opera has ended....Ruggiero had become the pet of
the center-left. LUnità, however,
proclaimed that day that the only one capable of maintaining
Italys credibility and reputation is leaving the scene.
This is indeed a serious loss, EU Competition Commissioner
Mario Monti was quoted in The Guardian (Jan. 9), for
a country not overly well endowed with credible big hitters
on the international stage.