BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Monitoring: Media reports  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Italy's Fini invited to Israel
Gianfranco Fini
Fini has undertaken a charm offensive

Gianfranco Fini, Italy's right-wing deputy premier and a former admirer of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, has been invited to Israel.

On Tuesday, Israeli Health Minister Rabbi Nisim Dahan met Mr Fini in Rome - just five months after Israel lifted an official ban on contacts with him.

Mr Dahan said that Fini "will visit Israel very soon" and will be officially invited by "the highest institution of the state of Israel," according to Italian media.

The Israeli minister - who belongs to the ultra-orthodox party Shas - added that Mr Fini had "shown great courage as a statesman".

He also described him as "a great friend of ours, someone very important".

Far-right rally ban?

As part of his rapprochement with the Jewish state, Mr Fini said that the Italian Government might ban a far-right rally scheduled for Saturday in the northern town of Verona.

Fini's career
2002 Named to EU constitutional convention
2001 Appointed deputy premier
1995 Founds National Alliance
1994 Calls Mussolini greatest statesman of 20th century
1987 Becomes leader of post-fascist Italian Social Movement

Mr Fini told an Israeli journalist that if the meeting assumed any anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi features, the government would heed a request from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an international Jewish human rights organisation.

He said that if the organisation's warnings on the gathering were true, it would not take place.

He added: "Caution only stems from the fact that, before deciding to ban rallies, a state based on the rule of law, like Italy, has to be certain that the rally aims to deny the Holocaust and endorse any kind of Nazi vision of society."

Apologies

The invitation by the Israeli minister follows an interview by Mr Fini in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz last month.

As an Italian, I must assume responsibility. I must do that in the Italian people's name

Gianfranco Fini
In the interview, Mr Fini said Italians must ask for forgiveness for Mussolini's 1938 race laws, under which thousands of Italian Jews were deported.

"Indeed, as an Italian, I must assume responsibility. I must do that in the Italian people's name," Mr Fini told Ha'aretz.

"We bear the historic responsibility, a responsibility that is engraved in history, a responsibility to make declarations and ask for forgiveness," he added.

"It is our national obligation, though, not a personal one."

In 1994, Mr Fini described Mussolini as the "greatest statesman of the 20th century".

But in the interview with Ha'aretz he repudiated those views and said that he presently holds a negative view of "anyone who believes in Mussolini's democracy".

Extremist past

The talks with the minister and Mr Fini's recent statements follow a thaw in his relations with Israel.

Until a ban was lifted in May, Mr Fini was forbidden from entering Israel and Israeli officials were ordered not to have any contact with him or with members of his party.

Mr Fini was the last leader of the far-right Italian Social Movement, formed after the war.

In 1995, Mr Fini transformed the Italian Social Movement into the more moderate National Alliance, now one of the main parties in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling coalition.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

24 Jan 02 | Europe
25 Jan 02 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Media reports stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Media reports stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes