Berlusconi eyes PR advice for international relations

ROME: Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is on the hunt for a PR adviser to boost relations with international media, according to press reports in Italy.

The move comes as the embattled Italian PM, who leads his country’s current EU presidency, engages in an increasingly bitter feud with European Commission president Romano Prodi. Prodi last week urged Italian opposition parties to unite against Berlusconi at the forthcoming European elections, after the Italian media tycoon defended Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Russia-EU summit. Berlusconi said that media coverage of Chechnya was misleading and drew a parallel with the Italian media, which he said was biased against him.

According to a report last week in left-wing news weekly L’Espresso, Valentino Valentini, head of the office of the Italian Prime Minister, has begun searching for a PR agency. L’Espresso claims the move follows a series of blunders by Berlusconi’s spokesman Paulo Bonaiuti, which have included refusing to meet the European Journalist Federation and prenaming journalists allowed to ask questions at press conferences. The move is aimed at helping to reverse negative coverage that has cast a cloud over the country’s tenure as EU president, the paper claims.

Valentini was unavailable for comment, and a source within Berlusconi’s press team would only say: ‘I do not wish to comment on rumours.’ Meanwhile, EPR Comunicazione has been hired to run press and PR around exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s visit to Italy, which will include meetings with the Pope and Berlusconi.

Political pressure group Italy-Tibet parliamentary group is using the agency to run press conferences to take place around the Dalai Lama’s meetings with the Pope, which are expected to begin on 26 November.

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