Italy tried to make amends today after a government official branded Germans as “stereotyped blondes with a hyper-nationalist pride”.
The comments reportedly led German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to threaten to cancel a planned summer holiday in Italy. It was the second recent diplomatic spat between the two EU nations.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini expressed his “strong wish that a statement that was unnecessary and out of line does not upset in any way the traditional friendship between Italy and Germany.”
German tourists “know well they are welcome in our country, as we know we are welcome guests in Germany,” Frattini said.
Last week, Stefano Stefani, an Industry Ministry under-secretary, called Germany a “country intoxicated with arrogant certainties”.
“We know the Germans well, these stereotyped blondes with a hyper-nationalist pride who have always been indoctrinated to be first in the class at any cost,” he wrote in the Northern League party’s newspaper, La Padania.
The comments came on the heels of a German-Italian spat prompted by Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s remarks likening German MEP Martin Schulz to a Nazi concentration camp guard.
Industry Minister Antonio Marzano said Stefani’s words “do not reflect either the government’s belief or mine, or the sentiments of strong friendship that bind the Italian people to the Germans.”
Schroeder’s spokesman Bela Anda called the remarks an “insult to all Germans who like to spend their vacations in Italy,” including the chancellor.
“Should these comments be approved of by the Italian government and remain without consequences, the chancellor will cancel his planned vacation in Italy,” Anda said.
Schroeder, who has come to Italy for his summer vacations in the past, was planning to go to the central Marche region this year.
In an interview published Tuesday in La Padania, Stefani said he wasn’t referring to all Germans, but only to ”those Germans who express opinions on Italy or on Italian political authorities that are exclusively based on vile stereotypes.”