October 13 talks of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder took place in Rome. The parties discussed the situation in Iraq and reforming of the UN Security Council.
The latter issue gave rise to heated disputes. The attitude of both sides to the Iraq problem is quite clear: Italy invariably supports the USA while Germany is traditionally one of the key opponents to the Washington policy carried out in Iraq. However, the Iraq issue disputes faded away when Berlusconi and Schroeder touched upon reforming the UN Security Council.
It has been spoken for a long period already that the Security Council needs reforming. Germany is an active champion of the reforming but emphasizes the reforming must entail enlargement in the number of the council’s permanent members. Berlin dislikes the present-day situation in the Security Council. Germany believes its authority in the international politics and economic relations deserve permanent membership in the UN Security Council. Japan and Brazil stick to the same opinion and desire permanent membership in the Council.
But Italy would not like Germany become a member of “the world government”. Italians say a higher number of the Council members is not a solution to problems in the international life. Instead, Rome suggests that the whole of the European Union may be given one seat in the Council. But what about Great Britain and France that have been permanent members of the Council since very founding of the UN?
The latest talks have not brought to light any new approaches to the problem. Both Schroeder and Berlusconi still stand their grounds. The Italian prime minister said after the talks that no attempts at all were taken to persuade Germany to shift its ground, and Germany in its turn made none of such attempts.
But for the unkindly personal relations between Schroeder and Berlusconi Rome and Berlin might have reached a compromise much easier. Remember the last year's scandal when European parliament deputy German social democrat Martin Schulz kicked up a row during presentation of Berlusconi as the head of the EU chairman country. He reminded that the Italian prime minister had been several times accused of corruption and managed to avoid responsibility only thanks to hasty adoption of a law on judicial immunity of high-ranking officials. In response, Berlusconi suggested Schulz might perform the role of a jailer in a concentration camp. The scandal was hushed up only after Berlusconi was persuaded to apologize to the German deputy.
The relations between Schroeder and Berlusconi got even worse when Italian Deputy Minister for Industry Stefano Stefani sounded rather harsh towards in an interview to Corriere della Sera. He called Germans conceited blonds loving to occupy Italian virgin beaches. Then the German chancellor would not spend his vacation in Venice the way he had traditionally done. Even though the deputy minister for industry was dismissed some observers said Berlusconi himself probably inspired his statements.
However that may be, today Italy and Germany inevitably clash when it comes to problems in the European Union and in the world in general. Late in September, Berlusconi said there were too many Germans in the European Parliament. No wonder that Rome and Berlin still fail to reach an agreement concerning reforming of the UN Security Council.