When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

The Germany-Bashing And Conspiracy Theories Of Berlusconi's Comeback

Merkel and Berlusconi 2009
Merkel and Berlusconi 2009
Florian Eder

BERLIN - Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former Prime Minister who harbors ambitions to return to his old job, has had a year to adjust reality to his private world view. And now he’s letting fellow Italians and Europeans know how he thinks.

The widening of the Italo-German government bond "spread" shortly before his government fell last year was a "trick" specifically designed to remove him from power, Berlusconi said in an interview on Italian TV’s Canale 5 earlier this week.

The Italians can look forward to some lively months ahead, until the parliamentary elections in February or March that will also determine the next head of government. (According to Reuters, Berlusconi hedged Wednesday night on whether or not he will run, though few can imagine him stepping back from the spotlight.)

Earlier in the week, the 76-year-old declared that Germany "ordered all its banks to sell all the Italian bonds they were holding." A harsh enough accusation, but there was more to come: "And then American and international investment funds thought, if Germany is selling, there must be a reason behind it – and they started selling too.”

Nor is Italy’s 2012 debt, which the European Commission puts at 126.5% of economic output, a reason for market concern: in reality it is "not that high at all."

Berlusconi’s affirmations are not only an attempt to photo-shop the shortcomings of his period in office – the attacks aim to hone conspiracy theories among Italians and hit them where they are particularly vulnerable: their pride in their country, which many – and not only Italians – think is the most beautiful on earth.

By suggesting intrigue on the part foreign powers – headed by Germany – or the financial markets, Berlusconi is making a bid to win back popular support after suffering what the polls say are dramatic losses that have him lagging far behind.

In another tack, Berlusconi accused his successor Mario Monti of bending to Berlin’s will and hence "creating a crisis situation that is worse than it was when my government was in power."

He, Berlusconi, had always resisted complying with German wishes. "When I was representing Italy, I was one of the two or three heads of government with the most authority," he claimed.

Berlin bites back

By the watered-down rules of diplomatic communication, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s reaction to Berlusconi’s remarks bordered on outrage: the German government does not accept "Germany being turned into an object used for the purposes of conducting a populist election campaign. Neither Germany nor Europe are the cause of Italy’s present difficulties."

For her part, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated: "I support the reforms implemented by Mario Monti’s government" and noted that there was renewed investor confidence in Italy now and that the Italian people were sure to vote for continuing to keep Italy on the right track.

The spread that Berlusconi described as an invention has decreased on average since he left office. It already existed during his lively years at the helm, he just didn’t give it any attention.

But who’s expecting honesty from a sales pro who has just launched an election campaign, especially when he owns a media network. What he’s not saying is: the "trick" is real all right, and it’s costing the country a lot of money.

"Just what we needed," a northern European government representative remarked – without irony – about Berlusconi being back on the political scene: "Since last weekend, his comeback announcement has cost Italy something like 7 billion euros."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

Keep reading...Show less

The latest