I knew the EU was gonna be much more entertaining with the Italian PM in charge of things.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder cancelled his vacation to Italy because of "...an Italian under secretary responsible for tourism, Stefano Stefani, who characterized the eight million German tourists who visit each year as beer-swilling, chauvinistic boors who, come summer, 'invaded the beaches of Italy'."
It gets better.
"This latest fracas began on Friday when Mr. Stefani, who is a member of the small nationalist Northern League, wrote in a letter to his party's newspaper, La Padania, 'We know the Germans well, those stereotyped blonds with a hyper-nationalist pride who have always been indoctrinated to be first in the class at any cost'."
& better still.
"...Mr. Stefani called Germany a "country intoxicated with arrogant certainties." While they like to vacation in Italy, he said, the Germans also like to deal in anti-Italian stereotypes. The newspaper Bild, Mr. Stefani continued, referring to Bild Zeitung, Germany's largest mass-circulation tabloid, 'doesn't forget to lie about the number of car thefts in Rimini, or even the last statistics from Mafia killings in Sicily'."
But since these are politicians there must be retractions & the offending party be disciplined you say?
"Mr. Stefani refused to take back anything he had said, and Mr. Berlusconi, who did not follow the advice of at least two German cabinet ministers to fire Mr. Stefani, also showed no particular regret over the latest incident. Asked by Italian reporters for his reaction to Mr. Schr?der's cancellation, Mr. Berlusconi replied, 'I'm sorry for him'."
Think it's over?
"Demonstrating that one insult leads to another, Mr. Stefani attacked Der Spiegel, the newsmagazine, for putting an unflattering portrait of Mr. Berlusconi on its cover last week (before the incident in the European Parliament) with the caption, "The Godfather."
The message was 'self-evident,' Mr. Stefani said. It was that 'Berlusconi is a mob boss, and thus Mafia Italy is composed of Mafia electors who have accepted living with the Mafia. The Mafia is synonymous with death and suffering'."
Last but certainly not least, we have the following.
"Mr. Stefani had these choice words about Martin Schulz, the German deputy who had criticized Mr. Berlusconi and was then excoriated by him. 'This Schulz,' Mr. Stefani wrote, 'probably grew up taking part in noisy burping contests, after drinking gigantic amounts of beer and gorging himself on fried potatoes'."
Think of it as a parting shot across the bow.
The NY Times editorial reports all this with a tone that implies disapproval of the non-diplomatic turn of events. Personally I would have gotten a kick out of someone quoting someone as saying, " I knew nothing. No-thing!" but alas the NY Times seems to be more sensitive than I am.
Again I am not a fan of the EU but you have to admit this is humorous. Too bad none of the verbal combatants have the eloquence of Churchill. Now that would be entertainment.