'EU officials asked US for help to oust Berlusconi'

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Silvio Berlusconi resigned in November 2011 as Italy faced a crippling debt crisis. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP
15:05 CEST+02:00
EU officials asked the US government for help to oust Silvio Berlusconi from the Italian premiership at the height of the economic crisis in 2011, a former advisor to US President Barack Obama has claimed.

Tim Geithner, former US treasury secretary, said that he refused to cooperate in a plot against the then Italian prime minister in the autumn of 2011.

“European officials contacted us with a plot to find a way of forcing the Italian Premier Berlusconi to stand down,” Geithner was quoted in La Stampa as saying in his new book - Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises.

The EU officials wanted their US counterparts to refuse to back an Italian rescue package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) unless Berlusconi resigned, Geithner alleged.

The former treasury secretary claimed that he refused to go along with the plot, telling the Europeans “we cannot have blood on our hands.”

Berlusconi resigned in November 2011 as Italy faced a crippling debt crisis and was replaced by former EU commissioner Mario Monti, who swept in urgent economic reforms.

The three-time premier has long since claimed that his political demise was a coup, with the complicity of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Responding to Geithner’s claims, Berlusconi on Monday said he was “not surprised”.

“I have always said that in 2011….there was a movement which originated here, but then extended abroad to try to replace my government,” he told Corriere della Sera.

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Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party has requested a parliamentary inquiry into the matter be opened, Renato Brunetta, the party’s leader in the lower house, said on Wednesday. 

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