Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday he welcomed French actress Catherine Deneuve's recent denunciation of the "#MeToo" campaign against sexual harassment and abuse.
"Catherine Deneuve spoke blessed words," Berlusconi said in a television interview. "It's natural that women are happy if a man tries to seduce them."
Deneuve and 99 other women signed an open letter in French daily Le Monde on Tuesday criticizing the "#MeToo" campaign as "puritanical" and a "witch-hunt" against men that left no room for what they said was acceptable seductive behavior.
"#MeToo" began after multiple sexual harassment and rape allegations emerged against Hollywood media mogul Harvey Weinstein in October. Women around the world used the hashtag to share their personal experiences of harassment and assault.
"I don't have much experience with this [seducing a woman] because it's always women who try to seduce me," Berlusconi said. "The important thing is that the courtship is elegant."
The billionaire resigned as prime minister in 2011 following revelations he had hosted "Bunga Bunga" erotic parties with young women and had sex with an underage nightclub dancer known as "Ruby the Heart Stealer."
A judge cleared Berlusconi in 2014 of any wrongdoing for sleeping with Ruby after ruling it could not be proved the former prime minister knew her age when he slept with her.
Berlusconi is currently on trial over accusations he bribed witnesses in the Ruby case.
Berlusconi has been trying to return to political prominence as the leader of the conservative Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party ahead of parliamentary elections in March.
The party is doing well in opinion polls, but a 2013 tax fraud conviction bars Berlusconi from entering office.
amp/rc (Reuters, AFP)