Asked to comment on Italy’s place in the eurozone, Czech Foreign Minister and deputy PM Karel Schwarzenberg told Czech daily Lidové noviny in an interview published on Saturday that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had “f**ked away” a window of opportunity to introduce reforms to his country’s public sector and government spending. On Monday, the Italian ambassador to the Czech Republic requested a meeting with Schwarzenberg, demanding an explanation.
When asked by the daily if Italy should have been allowed to adopt the euro in 1999, Schwarzenberg responded: “Italy appeared better off then. It’s true that the Berlusconi government carries blame that it didn’t manage [to introduce] reforms. Unfortunately, Berlusconi — close your ears — f**ked away that time instead of using it for reforms.”
The daily Mladá fronta dnes (MfD) reported Wednesday that first thing on Monday, the Italian ambassador to the Czech Republic, Pasquale D’Avino, requested an audience with Schwarzenberg, and that he was received by the head of the foreign ministry’s head of European section, Jaroslav Kurfürst.
“The Italian ambassador requested an audience. The conversation took place in a friendly spirit, and both assured each other that the mutual relations of the Czech Republic and Italy are excellent and nothing threatens them,” ministry spokesman Vít Kolář told MfD. “It was definitely not a hostile audience. Our relations really are so good that they are not threatened by one little word.”
Czech Position asked the Czech foreign ministry on which day D’Avino had been received in the Czernin Palace, the seat of the foreign ministry, and to confirm whether Italian ambassador D'Avino had requested an audience specifically with Schwarzenberg. Both Kolář and the Italian embassy declined to divulge any further information, stating that by mutual agreement they consider the matter closed.