In quotes: Italy's Silvio Berlusconi in his own words
- 2 August 2013
- From the section Europe
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is famed for making his views known in blunt, colourful, sometimes combative language.
At times he strays into what one of his predecessors, Massimo D'Alema, described as "planetary gaffes".
Here is a selection of quotations from Mr Berlusconi on a range of topics over his years in and out of office.
"The best political leader in Europe and in the world."
"There is no-one on the world stage who can compete with me."
"Out of love for Italy, I felt I had to save it from the left."
"The right man in the right job."
"I don't need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice."
Yet by May 2010, he appeared in a chastened mood when he told a news conference at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris: "As prime minister, I have never had the feeling that I was in power."
Scandals over his private life
Mr Berlusconi - caught in a series of scandals over his private life, including his alleged dealings with younger women and prostitutes - has frequently turned to a pithy phrase in an attempt to shrug off the allegations.
For instance, in April 2011, he said: "When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30% of women said, 'Yes', while the other 70% replied, 'What, again?'"
As allegations swirled about escorts and "Bunga, bunga" parties, Mr Berlusconi admitted: "I am not a saint, you've all understood that."
In an earlier interview with gossip magazine Chi, Mr Berlusconi denied he pays for sex, adding: "I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest."
More bluntly, in November 2010 Mr Berlusconi hit out with the following: "It's better to like beautiful girls than to be gay."
Battles with the courts
In an angry video message broadcast after his prison sentence for tax fraud was upheld by Italy's highest court in August 2013, Mr Berlusconi said he had been the victim of "judicial harassment that is unmatched in the civilised world".
"In exchange for the commitments I have made over almost 20 years in favour of my country and coming almost at the end of my public life, I have been rewarded with accusations and a verdict that is founded on absolutely nothing. Is this the way Italy recognises the sacrifices and commitment of its best citizens?" he said.
On the same theme, he declared after his immunity from prosecution was lifted in 2009: "I am without doubt the person who's been the most persecuted in the entire history of the world and the history of man."
"In my opinion, and not only mine, I am the best prime minister we can find today."
And also: "I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone."
In 2008, he described Italy's judiciary as a "cancerous growth".
On judges pursuing former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti on charges relating to the Mafia: "Those judges are doubly mad! In the first place, because they are politically mad, and in the second place because they are mad anyway.
"If they do that job, it is because they are anthropologically different from the rest of the human race."
Politics and the Italian Left
In November 2011, facing the biggest crisis of his leadership, he said: "I want to look those who want to betray me in the face."
In 2009, a spat with his former wife hit the paper, as she criticised his party's plan to field attractive young women as European election candidates. He contrasted his "cultured and well-prepared" candidates with the other parties' "malodorous and badly dressed people".
He is quoted as saying on 9 April 2008: "The left has no taste, even when it comes to women."
On left-wing voters at a conference of retailers during the 2006 campaign: "I trust the intelligence of the Italian people too much to think that there are so many pricks around who would vote against their own best interests."
Promising to put family values at the centre of his campaign for the April 2006 general election: "I will try to meet your expectations, and I promise from now on, two-and-a-half months of absolute sexual abstinence, until [election day on] 9 April." He later insisted the pledge was "just a joke".
"Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini used to send people on vacation in internal exile."
"The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well."
On Italy's debt crisis
Speaking on 13 August 2011, as he announced a raft of new austerity measures: "Our hearts are bleeding. This government had bragged that it never put its hands in the pockets of Italians but the world situation changed. We are facing the biggest global challenge."
But on 4 November 2011, he told a news conference at the end of a G20 summit: "The life in Italy is the life of a wealthy country: consumptions haven't diminished, it's hard to find seats on planes, our restaurants are full of people."
In the wake of 11 September attacks
"We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and - in contrast with Islamic countries - respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance...
"The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a confrontation with another civilisation, Islam, firmly entrenched where it was 1,400 years ago."
His response to worldwide condemnation of the above speech: "They have tried to hang me on an isolated word, taken out of context from my whole speech."
"I did not say anything against the Islamic civilisation... It's the work of some people in the Italian leftist press who wanted to tarnish my image and destroy my long-standing relations with Arabs and Muslims."
On his alleged conflict of interest as prime minister and one of Italy's biggest tycoons, with major media holdings: "If I, taking care of everyone's interests, also take care of my own, you can't talk about a conflict of interest."
President Obama's skin colour
Of Barack Obama, upon his election as US president in November 2008, he said: "[Mr Obama is] young, handsome and suntanned."
His response to the wave of criticism following the remark: ''God save us from imbeciles... How can you take such a great compliment negatively?"
An unabashed Mr Berlusconi rehashed the jibe on his return from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh on 28 September 2009: "Ah, Barack Obama. You won't believe it, but the two of them sunbathe together, because the wife is also tanned."
The L'Aquila earthquake
In general, Mr Berlusconi won praise for his handling of an earthquake that hit central Italy on 6 April - except for his advice to homeless survivors that they should see their plight "like a weekend of camping."
In September 2010, speaking at a youth rally, saying women should marry rich, older men: "Women are lining up to marry me. Legend has it, I know how to do it."
In January 2007, Mr Berlusconi was forced to issue a public apology to his wife, after she accused him of flirting with two women.
"If I wasn't already married, I would marry you right away," Mrs Berlusconi accused him of telling women at a TV awards dinner.
"With you, I'd go anywhere," he was quoted as telling another woman.
On Italian secretaries (comments made at the New York Stock Exchange): "Italy is now a great country to invest in... Today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one. Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls."
To a German newspaper:
"In Italy, I am almost seen as German for my workaholism. Also I am from Milan, the city where people work the hardest. Work, work, work - I am almost German."
In June 2005, on enlisting the support of Finnish President Tarja Halonen for Italy to host the European Food Safety Authority: "I had to use all my playboy tactics."
Mr Berlusconi added insult to injury by saying that he had had to "endure the Finnish diet", such as smoked herrings.
To German MEP Martin Schulz, at start of Italy's EU presidency in July 2003: "I know that in Italy there is a man producing a film on Nazi concentration camps - I shall put you forward for the role of Kapo (guard chosen from among the prisoners) - you would be perfect."
During the controversy raging over the above remark: "I'll try to soften it and become boring, maybe even very boring, but I am not sure I will be able to do it."
At the Brussels summit, at the end of Italy's EU presidency, in December 2003: "Let's talk about football and women." (Turning to four-times-married German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder.) "Gerhard, why don't you start?"
On his first meeting with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2002, Berlusconi complimented him with the words: "Mr Rasmussen is not only a great colleague, he's also the best-looking prime minister in Europe."
A joke about Aids told by Mr Berlusconi: "An Aids patient asks his doctor whether the sand treatment prescribed him will do any good. 'No', the doctor replies, 'but you will get accustomed to living under the earth'."
His response to critics who said the joke was offensive: "They have lost their minds; they really have come to the end of the line, indeed they have gone beyond it. I would advise them, too, to undergo sand treatment..."