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German Press Review: Berlusconi Should be Kept in his Place

German papers on Friday continued to reflect on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’ s gaffe in the European Parliament when he compared a German lawmaker with a Nazi concentration camp guard.

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Shock debut -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the European Parliament on Wednesday.

German papers on Friday continued to reflect on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’ s gaffe in the European Parliament when he compared a German lawmaker to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

The Mitteldeutsche Zeitung in Saxony said for Berlusconi such defamatory remarks are a daily routine. Those like the courageous Martin Schulz who dare to criticize him feel the entire force of the power-obsessed politician, who also silences his opponents with unfair means. The paper said now it will have to be shown how firmly the European community puts its new president in his place. Pressure has to be applied if damage to Europe is to be averted, the paper stated.

It’s fortunate that "Lex Berlusconi" only applies to Italy and not in the rest of Europe, commented the Berliner Kurier. It’s difficult to imagine what sort of verbal attacks the Italian head of government would be capable of if he need not fear punishment. Berlusconi has made one thing clear – he cannot stand criticism, quickly loses his temper, and then lashes out at people who dare to oppose him, wrote the Berlin paper.

The Westfalenpost in Hagen, near Essen, was convinced that listening to reason is not an outstanding quality of the man whose six-month stint at the helm of the EU is in any case being viewed with considerable skepticism by many people. The paper argued that Europe must not put up with the uncontrolled swaggering of a European Council president who can’t take criticism and dismiss it as a one-off accident. Berlusconi’s apology is needed – the daily wrote– both to the EU deputies and to German parliamentarian Martin Schulz himself.

According to Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung the decisive thing in the Berlusconi affair is whether he can cause structural damage in Europe or whether his faux-pas – intensified by the magnifying glass of Europe – will one day also be too much for the Italian population.

Eastern Germany’s Lausitzer Rundschau, while pointing out that Berlusconi needed to be contradicted when he abuses old prejudices, also urged restraint. Like the Süddeutsche Zeitung, It concluded that the people in Europe have no choice but to leave it up to the Italians in all their wisdom to decide for themselves who governs in Rome. "After all," the paper concluded, "we wouldn’t like other people to tell us how best not to make fools of ourselves."

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