Thu, Jul 10, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Silvio Berlusconi expresses `regret' over making slur

AFP , BRUSSELS

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed his "regret" Tuesday to European Parliament president Pat Cox over a controversial Nazi slur he made against a German Euro parliamentarian.

The heckling German legislator concerned, Martin Schulz, accepted the "explanation."

Berlusconi caused outrage across Europe with an outburst at the European Parliament last week when he suggested that Schulz go for the role of Nazi concentration camp guard in an Italian film.

In a telephone conversation with Cox, Berlusconi "expressed his regret for having used in the course of an animated debate on the programme of the Italian presidency on July 2 in Strasbourg, certain expressions and comparisons which hurt the sensitivities of members of the European parliament," a statement from Cox's office said.

Schulz responded by saying in a statement that he accepted Berlusconi's explanation, "to re-establish the dignity of inter-institutional relations ... and I sincerely hope that this disagreeable situation will not be repeated during the Italian six-month presidency" of the EU.

The president of the parliament's socialist group, Spain's Enrique Baron Crespo, expressed in the same statement his satisfaction that Berlusconi "had apologized."

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