Berlusconi says EU ‘plot’ forced him out of office

Berlusconi says EU ‘plot’ forced him out of office

PanARMENIAN.Net - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi repeated accusations on Wednesday, May 14, that he was forced out of office at the height of the eurozone crisis in 2011 as the result of a "plot" by European Union officials, according to Reuters.

Berlusconi's comments followed the publication in Italy of extracts from a new book by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner which suggested that EU officials had approached the U.S. government with a project to force Berlusconi to resign.

"They wanted us to refuse to back IMF loans to Italy as long as he refused to go," Geithner's book "Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises," was quoted as saying by daily La Stampa.

Geithner said the United States rejected the approach, saying "We can't have his blood on our hands".

Berlusconi, currently serving a community service order after being convicted of tax fraud last year, said the book showed there had been a "clear violation of democratic rules and an attack on the sovereignty of our country".

"The plot is an extremely serious piece of news which confirms what I've been saying for some time," he told Rai state television in an interview, according to Reuters.

The 77-year-old billionaire media tycoon and leader of Italy's main center-right party has frequently accused European authorities and head of state, President Giorgio Napolitano of mounting a "coup" to remove him from office in 2011.

Among other sources, he has cited a book published this year and based on interviews with his successor Mario Monti and others that said Monti was sounded out as a potential replacement premier months before Berlusconi's government fell.

Napolitano has dismissed suggestions of a plot to replace Berlusconi as "smoke".

Berlusconi has stepped up his attacks on Brussels and eurozone policy makers during the campaign for European parliamentary elections, encouraged by opinion polls which show rising dissatisfaction with the EU among many Italians.

With less than two weeks before the election on May 25, his Forza Italia party is in third place in opinion polls with about 20 percent, behind Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's center-left Democratic Party on around 34 percent and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement on about 25.

Berlusconi resigned in November 2011 after months of tension on financial markets caused fears that investors could refuse to buy Italian bonds, sending the euro zone's third-largest economy into default and breaking the single currency apart.

On Wednesday he repeated accusations that Napolitano was in contact with Monti, the former European Commissioner appointed to lead the technocrat government that succeeded Berlusconi, well before the final crisis.

Monti's government imposed a series of austerity measures aimed at restoring market confidence but failed to halt a steep rise in Italy's public debt or restore growth and ended its term deeply unpopular with ordinary voters.

 Top stories
The team said they had also been barred from completing work at some sites to which they had been initially admitted.
"The terrorist organization Islamic State is a threat to public safety in Germany as well," said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
Until recently, India had largely seen itself as beyond the recruiting territory of international jihadists like al Qaeda.
The political leader of Iraq's Kurds earlier appealed for international military aid to help defeat the Islamist militants.
Partner news
Soghomon Tehlirian assassinated Talaat Pasha on March 15, 1921

Operation Nemesis was a covert operation by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation carried out from 1920 to 1922, during which a number of former Ottoman political and military figures were assassinated for their role in the Armenian Genocide.