(ANSA) - Tokyo - Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday compared his Group of Eight (G8) colleagues to a soccer team and rated their performances at their just-concluded summit in Japan.
‘’This is a G8 squad which worked well together,'’ the Italian premier said at a closing press conference.
‘’This was (United States President) George Bush’s last G8 summit and it’s a real shame, because he is a true friend of Italy, a loyal person who is very easy to get along with,'’ Berlusconi said.
‘’For him a ‘yes’ is a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ is a ‘no’ and he always keeps his word. And today we all thanked him for all his positive contributions at the summits and wished him well for the future,'’ the premier added.
Turning his attention to the Germany chancellor, Berlusconi said ‘’I found Angela Merkel to be a great friend of Italy and we set November 18 as the date for our bilateral summit in Trieste'’.
Merkel, the premier observed, ‘’was very precise, diligent and always present'’.
Berlusconi said the new Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev was ‘’very precise and prepared'’ and added ‘’I've known him for some time, he’s been to my villa on Sardinia'’.
The premier referred to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as ‘’Steve'’ and said he was ‘’very sharp, original and very intelligent'’.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was described as ‘’competent, charming and dynamic,'’ while Berlusconi said French President Nicolas Sarkozy was ‘’even more dynamic, to the point of being explosive!'’.
‘’Nevertheless, in the end he would always fall in line with the others,'’ the premier added.
In regard to the summit host, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Berlusconi observed that ‘’he leads such an extraordinary country, the world’s second economic power, and as you (the press) have also seen he is courteous, hospitable and precise'’.
These qualities, the premier added, were also reflected in the country as a whole.
‘’Its landscapes and the manners of its people are so neat… It seems impossible that anything could be so neat, without any sloppiness,'’ Berlusconi said.
As for himself, the Italian premier said ‘’I contributed with my experience, my down-to-earthness and probably my ability to synthesize and most certainly my ability to brighten things up even when dealing with serious issues'’.
The three-day summit wound up Wednesday with an agreement to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gases by 2050.
The G8 also agreed to ask the United Nations to impose stiffer sanctions on Zimbabwe, in the wake of the recent violent election campaign which kept Robert Mugabe in power.
Discussions also focused on soaring food and fuel prices and aid for Africa.
During his press conference, Berlusconi, who had initially opposed tougher sanctions on Zimbabwe, said that these could be avoided if Mugabe agreed to a power-sharing arrangement with the opposition.
He also confirmed that Italy intended to host the 2009 summit on the island of La Maddalena, off the northeast Sardinian coast, but said an alternative site existed if the reconversion of the ex-US Navy base there could not be completed in time.
The 2009 summit, Berlusconi added, will include an expanded session which will see the participation of the Group of Five (G5) - China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil.
A proposal from French President Sarkozy to permanently add India and China to the G8, given the strength of their economies, failed to win support at the 2008 summit, also due to opposition from Berlusconi.