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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 May 2006, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
In quotes: Berlusconi in his own words
Silvio Berlusconi
Berlusconi's loose tongue has often got him into trouble
The outgoing Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is well known for his blunt language - a tendency to make what one of his predecessors, Massimo D'Alema, described as "planetary gaffes".

Here is a selection of Berlusconi clangers:

  • At a rally during the 2006 election campaign:

    "Read The Black Book of Communism and you will discover that in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields."

  • On left-wing voters at a conference of retailers during the 2006 campaign:

    "I trust the intelligence of the Italian people too much to think that there are so many pricks around who would vote against their own best interests."

  • At the launch of the 2006 campaign:

    "I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone."

  • Promising to put family values at the centre of his campaign:

    "I will try to meet your expectations, and I promise from now on, two-and-a-half months of absolute sexual abstinence, until [election day on] 9 April."

  • To German MEP Martin Schulz, at start of Italy's EU presidency in July 2003:

    "I know that in Italy there is a man producing a film on Nazi concentration camps - I shall put you forward for the role of Kapo (guard chosen from among the prisoners) - you would be perfect."

    During the controversy raging over the above remark:

    "I'll try to soften it and become boring, maybe even very boring, but I am not sure I will be able to do it."

    To a German newspaper:

    "In Italy I am almost seen as German for my workaholism. Also I am from Milan, the city where people work the hardest. Work, work, work - I am almost German."

  • At the Brussels summit, at the end of Italy's EU presidency, in December 2003:

    "Let's talk about football and women." (Turning to four-times-married German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder.) "Gerhard, why don't you start?"

  • On Italian secretaries (comments made at the New York stock exchange):

    "Italy is now a great country to invest in... today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one. Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls."

  • On Mussolini:

    "Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini used to send people on vacation in internal exile."

  • In the wake of 11 September:

    "We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and - in contrast with Islamic countries - respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance...

    "The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a confrontation with another civilisation, Islam, firmly entrenched where it was 1,400 years ago."

    His response to worldwide condemnation of the above speech:

    "They have tried to hang me on an isolated word, taken out of context from my whole speech."

    "I did not say anything against the Islamic civilisation... It's the work of some people in the Italian leftist press who wanted to tarnish my image and destroy my long-standing relations with Arabs and Muslims."

  • On Italian justice:

    "Eighty-five per cent of the Italian press is left-wing and among the judges it is even worse... There is a cancer in Italy that we have to treat: the politicisation of the magistracy."

    On judges pursuing former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti on charges relating to the Mafia:

    "Those judges are doubly mad! In the first place, because they are politically mad, and in the second place because they are mad anyway.

    "If they do that job it is because they are anthropologically different from the rest of the human race."

    On his trial, now suspended, in which he denies charges of bribing judges to prevent the sale of a state-owned food company to a rival:

    "I believed and still believe that citizen Berlusconi should be praised for having prevented the state's wealth from being looted... I was expecting a Gold Medal for Civil Worthiness for ensuring the state earned 2,000bn [lire]."

  • On himself:

    "The best political leader in Europe and in the world."

    "There is no-one on the world stage who can compete with me."

    "Out of love for Italy, I felt I had to save it from the left."

    "The right man in the right job."

    "I don't need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice."

  • A joke about Aids told by Mr Berlusconi:

    "An Aids patient asks his doctor whether the sand treatment prescribed him will do any good. 'No', the doctor replies, 'but you will get accustomed to living under the earth'."

    His response to critics who said the joke was offensive:

    "They have lost their minds; they really have come to the end of the line, indeed they have gone beyond it. I would advise them, too, to undergo sand treatment..."

  • On his alleged conflict of interest as prime minister and one of Italy's biggest tycoons, with major media holdings:

    "If I, taking care of everyone's interests, also take care of my own, you can't talk about a conflict of interest."

  • On a proposal to base an EU food standards agency in Finland, rather than the Italian city of Parma:

    "Parma is synonymous with good cuisine. The Finns don't even know what prosciutto is. I cannot accept this."

  • On history:

    "The founders of Rome were Romulus and Remulus ..."

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