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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Tourist slur reignites German-Italian row

By Ray Furlong
BBC correspondent in Berlin

A new row has erupted between Germany and Italy, just days after the Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi caused a storm by likening a German MEP to a concentration camp commander.

Gerhard Schroeder
Schroeder says holiday may be cancelled
Now, an Italian ministry official responsible for tourism has insulted German tourists, prompting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to threaten to cancel his forthcoming Italian holiday.

The German tabloid newspaper Bild has hit back at the Italian minister, saying he has "spaghetti for brains".

"Yet again," it says, "an Italian politician insults all Germans."

This time the offensive comments came from Stefano Stefani, an undersecretary at the economy ministry, in a newspaper article.

Silvio Berlusconi
Berlusconi sparked first row with "Nazi" jibe
In it, he accuses German tourists of being "stuck up, noisy and outrageous" - and labels them "uniform hyper-nationalistic blondes."

Bild points out 10 million German tourists spend billions of euros in Italy every year.

Among them is Mr Schroeder, who says he may now cancel his holiday, planned for next week.

A government spokesman here in Berlin said that should Mr Stefani's remarks receive the approval of the Italian Government, and should they remain without consequences, then the trip would be called off.

So, just as the dust was settling after Silvio Berlusconi's "concentration camp guard" jibe at a German MEP, a new row has erupted.


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