Earlier this week, Global Dashboard contributor Richard Gowan spoke to the Guardian newspaper about the G8 summit, during which he made certain remarks about Italy’s preparations that might be construed as offensive. Specifically, he said that:
“The Italian preparations for the summit have been chaotic from start to finish. The Italians were saying as long ago as January this year that they did not have a vision of the summit, and if the Obama administration had any ideas they would take instruction from the Americans.”
Asked about the fact that between 39 and 44 heads of government would be attending the summit in L’Aquila, Mr Gowan added that,
“This is a gigantic fudge. The Italians have no ideas and have decided that best thing to do is to spread the agenda extremely thinly to obscure the fact that they didn’t really have an agenda.”
Mr Gowan’s coments were made in the context of an article entitled “Calls grow within G8 to expel Italy as summit plans descend into chaos”, which suggested that Italy might be ejected from the G8 in favour of Spain. While the article also quoted other sources, Mr Gowan was the only one who spoke on the record, and hence bears a particular responsibility for what followed.
The next day, Silvio Berlusconi strongly rebutted Mr Gowan’s claims at a press conference, calling the Guardian’s report “a colossal blunder by a small newspaper”. Foreign minister Franco Frattini added that: “I hope that the Guardian is expelled from the great newspapers of the world. What the Guardian says is a joke – nonsense.” Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa has also called for a boycott of the paper.
Global Dashboard takes very seriously the clear and justified sense of hurt felt by the Italian government, and wishes to underline that Mr Gowan’s intemperate remarks do not represent the views of this blog, which regards Mr Berlusconi as an international relations powerhouse.
We would like to place it on record that we believe him to be a beacon of good governance and commitment to international development, and that we disdain the various groundless slurs made on his personal behaviour in recent months. We also strongly support his bid for the Nobel Peace Prize.