La justicia italiana

Cable sobre la tensión entre la justicia y la política

El embajador de EE UU en Roma, David Thorne, escribe sobre una conversación con Berlusconi sobre los jueces italianos

Date:2010-01-01 15:02:00
Source:Embassy Rome
DE RUEHRO #0001/01 0011502
O 011502Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ROME 000001


E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2020

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Classified By: Ambassador David H. Thorne. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. C) Summary: The Ambassador visited recuperating Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi at his Lombardy estate for a
private luncheon December 30. The Ambassador had suggested
he visit Berlusconi after the Prime Minister was assaulted at
a Milan rally in mid-December. Accompanied by Gianni Letta,
the Undersecretary in the Prime Minister's office and
effectively Berlusconi's second in command, Ambassador flew
up for the meeting on the Prime Minister's plane. Bandaged
and bruised from the December attack, Berlusconi was
nonetheless upbeat and eager to show off his new project for
training Italy's elite and share his thoughts on European
leaders and domestic politics. Berlusconi was effusive about
U.S.-Italian relations and Letta promised action on roping in
ENI operations in Iran and pushing ahead on Megaports. End

The Recuperating Prime Minister

2. C) Following the Ambassador's call to Gianni Letta
suggesting the Ambassador visit the Prime Minister during his
recuperation, Letta, the Undersecretary in the Prime
Minister's Office, invited Ambassador Thorne to accompanied
him to Milan on December 30 for a private afternoon with the
Prime Minister. The three hour session, held in Italian,
involved only the Prime Minister, Letta and the Ambassador,
and included a visit to Berlusconi's latest endeavor, a
private training school for Italy's elite, and a wide-ranging
lunch with the two top decision makers in the Italian

3. C) Berlusconi was still bandaged and scarred from the
assault in early December where a mentally unstable man
hurled a die cast model of Milan's cathedral at his head.
Berlusconi noted that the missile had struck a glancing blow
to his cheek, cutting him, breaking his nose and some of his
teeth, but if it had hit him straight on "it would have
killed" him. Letta recounted separately that Berlusconi had
slumped into a depression following the attack - "he's an
impresario, he wants everyone to love him " - but that had
snapped out of it and was on the mend. Letta also noted that
their tour of Berlusconi's new project site was the Prime
Minister's first excursion outdoors since his release from
the hospital.

U.S.-Italy: A Prized Relationship

4. C) In luncheon discussions, Berlusconi unabashedly stated
that he prized Italy's relationship with the U.S. and that
his government stood ready to help us, whatever the issue.
He noted that Italy owed the United States a debt of
gratitude for salvation during World War II, and for
protection throughout the Cold War. On Afghanistan, basing
issues, and other tough problems, Italy was committed to
helping the U.S. get to the right solution. He noted that he
hoped that the Italian increase in Afghanistan would help
President Obama and address the situation on the ground.

Berlusconi on European Leaders

5. C) The Prime Minister and Letta also gave their run down
of current European political leadership. Berlusconi
assessed that Sarkozy's star was clearly waning in European
circles and that the French President did not command the
same influence he did a year ago. Letta was less convinced,
noting to the Ambassador that both Berlusconi and Sarkozy
were "big dogs angling for the same spotlight." Berlusconi
recounted how he had played an instrumental role in the
Spring in persuading a reluctant Erdogan to accept Danish PM
Rasmussen as the new NATO Secretary General, overcoming the
Turkish President's profound irritation at Rasmussen for not
silencing Kurdish language radio stations despite numerous
requests. On Russia, Berlusconi felt that Putin and Medvedev
got along well, respected each other, and had an effective
relationship. In fact, farewells after lunch were
unexpectedly cut short by an incoming call from Putin.

Iran: Appalled by violence, Will try to rope in ENI
--------------------------------------------- ------

6. C) On Iran, Berlusconi noted that he was appalled by the
Iranian crackdown. He offered the capabilities of the
Italian intelligence services and assured full sharing of
information gathered on the internal dynamics in Tehran.
Letta, as the supervising authority over Italy's intelligence
services, assured the Ambassador of a continuation of our

ROME 00000001 002.2 OF 003

already excellent bilateral cooperation on the issue. Letta
also promised that he would talk to ENI CEO Scaroni about the
energy giant's ongoing operations in Iran and, if he could,
persuade them to halt activities.

Megaports - GOI to determine POC

7. C) In response to the U.S. request to move forward on
Megaports, Letta told the Ambassador that the issue would be
discussed at the Council of Ministers meeting on January 8
and that they would be in contact soon thereafter to convey
which ministry would have lead in the GOI for implementing
the project and as such be the primary interlocutor for our

Italy's Courts - Problem Number One

8. C) Berlusconi forthrightly identified the magistratura -
Italy's judiciary and courts -- as Italy's "biggest problem"
and told the Ambassador that he was ready to forge an
alliance with the center left opposition to implement
judicial reform. He noted that a legal system where issues
were never definitively resolved -- where you can be absolved
of a crime and yet have the case resurrected later - sapped
Italy's political and economic system. He argued that this
is what has happened in his own case, where he has been
cleared in the past but the same charges keep on returning
repeatedly. He said that he had allies in the opposition on
the need for reform, including PD Leader Bersani. Letta
cautioned the government won't know if it has the clout to
deliver on such an idea unless it secures a decent showing in
regional elections in March 2010.

Smart Guys in the Opposition

9. C) Berlusconi and Letta displayed a great deal of respect
for opposition leaders. Berlusconi praised the Democratic
Party Leader, Pier Luigi Bersani as a "straight shooter" who
was fair with a top rate intellect. Separately Letta was
also complimentary about former Prime Minister (and
archrival) Massimo D'Alema who he credited with showing
courage and integrity during the Balkans crisis and taking
some very tough decisions. Letta noted that D'Alema's
prickliness and "smartest guy in the room" demeanor made
dealing with him a chore, but acknowledged his judgment and
political effectiveness, which was why Berlusconi backed him
for the EU Foreign Minister position despite their
differences. Letta told the Ambassador that he did not have a
clear judgment on how DiPietro will play in domestic politics
and looked forward to future conversations. On other
domestic political issues, Letta thought that the current
estrangement between the governing PDL party and Sicilian
President Lombardo was a minor issue and they would patch it
up quickly.

Worried about a flat 2010

10. C) Both Berlusconi and Letta expressed concern about the
limited prospects for economic growth in 2010. Berlusconi
thought that Italy had weathered the past year of the
financial crisis fairly well but thought it would be a
challenge to produce enough growth in 2010 to start replacing
jobs lost. The Prime Minister was less concerned that a
financial meltdown in Greece would have EU-wide impact. He
said that he had a good relationship with Greek PM Papendreou
and was confident that he could right the situation.

New Media - Important for Liberty

11. C) In response to the Ambassador's questions to the Prime
Minister about the role of the internet, Berlusconi shot back
"it's important for liberty." New media - particularly
Facebook which has been instrumental in the past month in
organizing a national "No Berlusconi Day" and more
controversially in continuing to host "Kill Berlusconi" pages
- has vexed the GOI, - but the Prime Minister stated that he
felt the evolving media was both critical to the future and
also to the preservation of liberty. But he felt there
needed to be better tuned controls to prevent the most
extreme use of the new outlets.

The Berlusconi Leadership Academy

12. C) The Prime Minister commenced the visit by personally

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conducting a guided tour of his most recent project, a
private academy to train Italy's brightest young minds.
Berlusconi led Letta and the Ambassador on a personal tour of
a newly rehabbed Lombardy estate that will serve as the home
of the enterprise. The completely renovated 17th century
country mansion, Villa Gernetto, will house a special school
set to open in March for one hundred of Italy's most talented
young leaders, completely funded from Berlusconi's personal
fortune. The Prime Minister intends to choose the students
himself and he envisions an environment where Italy's best
and brightest live and study, taught by world leaders "like
Blair and Clinton."


13. C) The Ambassador's intimate afternoon with Italy's two
top decision makers was both a testament to the priority
Berlusconi gives the U.S.-Italy relationship but also perhaps
a sign that the GOI has achieved its long-sought level
comfort and ease with the Obama administration. It is also a
dividend of the Ambassador's cultivation of the relationship
with Letta, which has opened up a personal channel to the
Prime Minister. The Italian press coverage of the following
day clearly took this message from what they viewed as an
extraordinary private session. The Prime Minister was clear
that he expects to be called upon to deliver for the U.S.,
which he will do out of principle, not self-interest.
Despite being given numerous openings, neither the Prime
Minister nor Letta asked for anything from the U.S. during
the lengthy luncheon. A striking aspect of the session was
Letta's clear position as co-regent, with Berlusconi
deferring regularly to his colleague and with Letta airing
opposing points of view to his boss during the luncheon.
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