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German Press Review: Berlusconi Continues to Shock

German papers Thursday were outraged at the comments made by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi where he suggested a member of the European Parliament should appear in a film as a Nazi concentration camp guard.


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's comments have sparked a diplomatic row with Germany.

The Essener paper Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein Zeitung wrote that the Italian prime minister still knows how to shock. While the non-Italian Europe has gotten used to the high handed media mogul changing laws to solve his personal problems, his performance in the European parliament has reached a high point and Berlusconi has shown his true political colors. The man who formed a coalition with neo-fascists and members of the racist Northern Alliance has exposed himself and unfortunately the rest of the EU which has for too long tolerated him, the paper opined.

The Hamburger Abendblatt said the new EU President Berlusconi has exceeded all expectations. The richest and most powerful man in Italy who tailor makes his own laws at home can only be regarded as Europe's shabbiest advertisement.

The Munich daily TZ wrote politics and embarrassment are close bedfellows during this summer of discontent. A superpower breaks out in war over weapons it can't find, a German public figure stuffs his mouth full of morals and his nose full of cocaine and Italy's prime minister believes he can call every German a Nazi. Europe is outraged but does that worry Berlusconi? Not in the slightest. Whoever treats the law like a self-service shop is not embarrassed by anything, the paper commented.

The Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung said while the situation is dishonorable it's also regrettable because the overall excitement has pushed Berlusconi's actual agenda for the EU to the background. If the coming months are determined by silly attacks and zealous witchhunts then it will be difficult to move forward with the difficult work the Union faces. The paper warned those who see Berlusconi as nuisance must be aware of how far are they willing to go with their attacks and considering the collateral damage they will have on Europe.

Germany's other dailies commented on the decision by national railway operator Deutsche Bahn to backtrack on their new price system and admit it was too confusing and complicated for customers.

The Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten welcomed the return of the old BahnCard travel card with its 50 percent discount. After rail passengers dropped by 10 percent following the introduction of the new price system, the Deutsche Bahn Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn has now said he had understands their concerns. However, Mehdorn still can't admit that the new price system -- which was designed to attract more customers -- was a complete flop, otherwise he would have to eat his words, the paper commented.

The Saarbrücker Zeitung wrote with his remorseful and honest admission that the new price system was a mistake, Mehdorn has actually managed to regain some trust for his organization and himself. And that he was able to force through the return of the old Bahncard that offered 50 percent reductions in prices is a courageous but above all sensible step, the paper said.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung warned this is the last chance for the head of Deutsche Bahn to introduce a new price system. DB boss Mehdorn has to create a better atmosphere, provide better service and better information -- in short give customers the feeling they are being taken seriously and not being told off. The paper said if Deutsche Bahn had listened to the consumer organizations prophecies about the new price system he wouldn't be in the mess he is now.

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