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Mounting Trouble: Berlusconi Named in Human Trafficking Scandal, EU Turns Pressure on Italy's Financial Debacle

Business

"substantial structural reform"

Silvio Berlusconi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is assuring EU leaders, almost defiantly, that only he can enact the deficit cuts necessary to save Italy from its financial mess.

Berlusconi ruled out early elections and said the current legislature in Rome will last until 2013, according to an interview published yesterday in Corriere della Sera. He said the European Central Bank’s support will only be maintained if his administration follows through on the pledged measures, reports Bloomberg.

“Only I and my government can achieve this reform program for 18 months, which is why there is no way for me to stand aside,” the Italian leader told the newspaper.

But members of the EU are growing impatient with what many perceive to be an uncooperative attitude.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker warned that Italy should deliver “substantial structural reform.”

“We’re watching very closely,” Juncker said in an interview on ARD. “Italy can’t simply do what suits it, but rather act as we’ve agreed together.”

Italy will present commitments made to European leaders on Nov. 9 and 10, Berlusconi told Corriere. He also said there was “no deal” with Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League party, to resign and hold early elections in return for an agreement to increase the retirement age, reports Bloomberg.

Although he has stated that he can handle the deficit issues, one wonders how long the Italian Prime Minster can withstand the increased pressure from the EU while simultaneously fending off all the allegations leveled against his personal character.

For instance, in a disturbing Trafficking in Persons Report recently released by the US State Department, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is mentioned by name in relation to an underage prostitution and human trafficking ring, reports Business Insider.

According to the report:

In February 2011, judges set a trial date for Prime Minister Berlusconi for the alleged commercial sexual exploitation of a Moroccan child; media reports indicate evidence of third party involvement in the case, indicating the girl was a victim of trafficking.

The Moroccan mentioned is none other than "Ruby the Heart Stealer", a 17 year old prostitute who allegedly attended Berlusconi's notorious "bunga bunga" parties, writes Business Insider.

For those who are unaware, Berlusconi is still facing trial for having illicit contact with Ruby--along with a fistful of other women who frequented the “bunga bunga” festivities.

It remains to be seen as to whether or not the prime minster can deliver the necessary financial reforms while also keeping himself out of the spotlight.

(h/t Business Insider)

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