Newspaper Berlusconi Controls Says Germany's Merkel Heading a 'Fourth Reich'

Il Giornale Merkel Newspaper - P 2012

Il Giornale Merkel Newspaper - P 2012

Il Giornale has been taking swipes at Merkel all summer, but this one sparked a minor diplomatic incident.

LOCARNO, Switzerland – Il Giornale, the Milan-based daily newspaper controlled by Italian media mogul and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, caused a diplomatic row by running a photo of German chancellor Angela Merkel with her hand in a kind of salute under a large headline reading “The Fourth Reich.”

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The accompanying article criticized the Merkel-led German government for so aggressively dictating difficult austerity measures troubled European economies are required to take in return for German-led economic aid.

The article highlighted a bitter war of words between Italy and Germany over the best strategy for handling the two-year-old European debt crisis, saying, “two world wars and millions of dead are not enough to quiet German egomania.” This time, the article said, “it has surfaced not with the use of cannon but with the euro.”

It is not the first time Il Giornale took a swipe at Merkel. In June, after Italy eliminated Germany from the European soccer championships, Il Giornale ran a headline reading “Ciao ciao culona” -- roughly translated as “Bye, bye fat ass.”

The latest scandalous headline ran in Friday’s editions, and it officially became a diplomatic incident Tuesday when Germany’s embassy in Rome reportedly complained to the Italian government.

Though the articles and headlines do not come directly from Berlusconi, the billionaire tycoon is implicated in them because he founded Il Giornale and the newspaper in currently run by his brother.

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Berlusconi, who also controls the Mediaset film and television giant, stepped down as prime minister in November amid personal and legal scandal and fears that Italy could fall victim to Europe’s debt crisis. Lastely, he has let it be known he is mulling another run for the prime minister’s office. It is so far difficult to estimate how much Italy’s relations with Europe’s largest economy will suffer if Berlusconi wins.