The Spectator began by asking Berlusconi whether he has mended fences with Chancellor Schröder, after he likened the German Social Democrat MEP, Martin Schulz, to a Nazi camp commandant?
It was I who was offended, my government and my country. I replied with a joke. I wanted to be humorous. The whole of the parliament laughed. My reply was taken and exploited against me. But you know what? It was a reply that was virtually impossible for me to resist because I once broadcast 120 episodes of Hogan's Heroes in which there was this Sergeant Schulz. You remember? I didn't even think about it. Schulz was shouting at me – no? And it just came to me off the cuff. I always try to be ironical in my speeches. Anyway, I had a phone conversation with Schröder in which I said my intention had not been to offend and that I was sorry that my joke had upset some people.
What provoked him?
In that sitting of the parliament, the speeches had been prepared beforehand under the direction of the MEPs of the Italian Left. So out came this image of Italy as follows: first, that in Italy there is a man who controls 85 per cent of the Italian press – the opposite is the case: I am the most liberal publisher in history; two, that this person also controls all Italian television – when I have one friend in Italian television who has a 7 per cent share; three, that I trample the Italian judges beneath my feet – and so if Italy were to apply today to join the EU, the application would be turned down. This was the theme of all the different speeches by the Left that day.
The Italian reality
The Italian reality, to he who is familiar with it, is that Italy is an absolute democracy with one or two anomalies. One is that we have an opposition that is not altogether democratic because it is made up of the same people who were communists and protagonists of the Italian Communist party which was of Stalinist origin. Another anomaly which is not known abroad is that we have an extremely politicised judiciary. And the third anomaly is that there is strong disinformation on the part of the press. Just read Repubblica, just read Unit