Gerhard Schröder Returns to Italy

Bundeskanzler Schröder gave up his usual yearly vacation in Italy this year, you’ll recall, shortly after the row Silvio Berlusconi caused in the European Parliament with German MEP Martin Schulz in the first week of July, followed by rather insensitive comments about German tourists from (former) Italian state secretary for economic affairs Stefano Stefani. (If you need to catch up on this subject, you can start your review of EuroSavant coverage here.) But soon he’ll be heading back to Italy for a visit.

This good news about the dawning of German-Italian reconciliation comes not from the German press, but from the Dutch newspaper Het Parool. (And I got the news that Schröder would give Italy a pass this summer originally from the Flemish newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen: How is it that LowLands journals can keep scooping their German counterparts like this when it comes to practical details that we want to know, like just where the Bundeskanzler will be and will not be? Although it looks like Het Parool got this information from the BBC.) There’s a catch: Schröder will be travelling to Italy on 22 August not for some delayed vacation (too late for that: the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that his cabinet returns to work today), but to meet with president of the European Commission Romano Prodi in Verona, ostensibly to attend a showing of the opera “Carmen” there. Prodi is a leading rival of the Italian premier. But there’s also a counter-catch: the mayor of Verona has also invited Berlusconi to attend that same opera performance. No word yet on whether he intends to accept this invitation.

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