Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former premier and business tycoon, has died in Milan at the age of 86.
Politicians, sports icons and world leaders are paying tribute to the flamboyant figure who transformed Italian politics and was widely known for his financial and sex scandals.
‘A true friend’: Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin described Berlusconi as a close and wise friend.
“For me, Silvio was a dear person, a true friend. I have always sincerely admired his wisdom, his ability to make balanced, far-sighted decisions even in the most difficult situations,” Putin said.
In October, according to a leaked recording, Berlusconi said he had reconnected with Putin, exchanging gifts of wine, vodka and “sweet” letters on his birthday.
On the Ukraine war, Berlusconi had suggested Kyiv was responsible for the invasion Russia launched in February 2022 and admonished Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni for meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
‘Great fighter’: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Hungary’s populist prime minister, Viktor Orban, said in a tweet: “Gone is the great fighter.”
Gone is the great fighter. pic.twitter.com/vH6OgxbiE2
— Orbán Viktor (@PM_ViktorOrban) June 12, 2023
‘A man who was not afraid’: Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni
Italy’s premier bid adieu to Berlusconi in a video message, saying, “Berlusconi was above all a fighter.”
“He was a man who was not afraid to defend his convictions, and it was precisely that courage and determination that made him one of the most influential men in Italy’s history,” Meloni said.
A Dio, Silvio. pic.twitter.com/hWiSNPCeia
— Giorgia Meloni (@GiorgiaMeloni) June 12, 2023
‘Obviously tremendously significant’: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
Speaking during a news conference with Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajani, US top diplomat Blinken said Berlusconi was “obviously tremendously significant figure in the life of Italy in the political life and the public life of the country”.
He added: “I simply want to extend my condolences to his family…but also to the Italian people for their loss.”
‘A great Italian’: Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, called Berlusconi “a great man and a great Italian”.
“Today a GREAT ITALIAN bids farewell to us. One of the greatest ever, in all fields, from all points of view, without equals. But above all, today I lose a great friend. I am devastated and I rarely cry, today is one of those days,” he said in a statement.
‘Many loved him, many hated him’: Ex-Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
Matteo Renzi, former Italian premier and leader of the liberal political party Italia Viva, said in a tweet: “Silvio Berlusconi made history in this country. Many loved him, many hated him.”
“Everyone today must recognise that his impact on political but also economic, sporting and television life was unprecedented,” he added.
Silvio Berlusconi ha fatto la storia in questo Paese. Tanti lo hanno amato, tanti lo hanno odiato: tutti oggi devono riconoscere che il suo impatto sulla vita politica ma anche economica, sportiva, televisiva è stato senza precedenti. Oggi l’Italia piange insieme alla famiglia,…
— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) June 12, 2023
‘An era is over’: Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto
Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said Berlusconi’s death “leaves a huge void because he was great”.
“An era is over, an era is closing,” he added.
Un grande, enorme dolore.
Lascia un vuoto enorme perché è stato un grande.
È finita un’epoca, si chiude un’era.
Gli ho voluto molto bene.
— Guido Crosetto (@GuidoCrosetto) June 12, 2023
‘An ironic, loyal, intelligent, sincere man’: Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti, manager of the Real Madrid football club, said: “Today’s sadness doesn’t erase the happy moments spent together. There remains infinite gratitude to the president, but above all to an ironic, loyal, intelligent, sincere man, fundamental in my adventure as a football player first, and then as a coach.”
Ancelotti won the Champions League as AC Milan’s coach when the club was owned by Berlusconi.
La tristezza di oggi, non cancella i momenti felici passati insieme. Rimane una riconoscenza infinita al presidente, ma soprattutto ad un uomo ironico, leale, intelligente, sincero, fondamentale nella mia avventura da calciatore prima, e da allenatore poi. Grazie Presidente. pic.twitter.com/aRLSxxzUVz
— Carlo Ancelotti (@MrAncelotti) June 12, 2023
‘Will not be forgotten’: European Parliament President Roberta Metsola
Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, referred to Berlusconi as “the fighter who led the centre-right and who was the protagonist of politics in Italy and Europe for generations”.
“Father, entrepreneur, MEP, Prime Minister, Senator. He left his mark and will not be forgotten.Thanks Silvio,” she said in a tweet.
Silvio Berlusconi: il combattente che ha guidato il centro-destra e che è stato protagonista della politica in Italia e in Europa per generazioni.
Padre, imprenditore, eurodeputato, Presidente del Consiglio, senatore. Ha lasciato il segno e non sarà dimenticato.
Grazie Silvio. pic.twitter.com/jSoiJUmyc3
— Roberta Metsola (@RobertaMetsola) June 12, 2023
‘Passionate politician’: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “Italy has lost a great personality.”
“He was the first Italian prime minister I worked with, and I will remember him as a striking and passionate politician,” he said in a tweet.
With the death of Silvio Berlusconi, Italy has lost a strong personality. He was the first Italian prime minister I worked with, and I will remember him as a striking and passionate politician. I have conveyed my condolences to @GiorgiaMeloni on behalf of the Dutch government.…
— Mark Rutte (@MinPres) June 12, 2023
‘A good friend’: Ex-Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša
A former prime minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, paid his condolences to the Italian leader, referring to him as a “good friend to Slovenia”.
Silvio Berlusconi was the founder and leader of @forza_italia and the longest serving Italian Prime Minister. Always a good friend to ??. Condolences to his family & loved ones. ??? pic.twitter.com/jbXMxHFccR
— Janez Janša (@JJansaSDS) June 12, 2023
‘Unforgettable’: AC Milan
AC Milan, the football club Berlusconi owned from 1986 to 2017, said they were “deeply saddened” at losing the 86-year-old, describing him as “unforgettable”.
“Tomorrow, we will dream of new ambitions, create new challenges, and seek new victories. Which will represent the good, the strong, and the true that lies inside us, in all of us who shared this adventure of binding our lives to a dream called Milan,” the club said on Twitter.
AC Milan profondamente addolorato piange la scomparsa dell’indimenticabile Silvio Berlusconi e si stringe con affetto alla famiglia, ai collaboratori e agli amici più cari.
“Domani sogneremo altri traguardi, inventeremo altre sfide, cercheremo altre vittorie. Che valgano a… pic.twitter.com/CWmYy8xzwi
— AC Milan (@acmilan) June 12, 2023
‘Charming and engaging company’: Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that while they had their political differences, on a personal level, “he was always charming and engaging company.”
I am saddened to learn of Silvio Berlusconi’s death.
I worked closely with him as both Prime Minister and Secretary General.
We had our political differences but on a personal level, he was always charming and engaging company.
All my thoughts are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/j9SQV83Oog
— Anders Fogh Rasmussen (@AndersFoghR) June 12, 2023
‘He led Italy in a time of political transition’: Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
The European Commission’s chief said in a tweet: “He led Italy in a time of political transition and since then continued to shape his beloved country.”
I am saddened by the news of the passing of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
He led Italy in a time of political transition and since then continued to shape his beloved country.
I extend my condolences to his family and the Italian people.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) June 12, 2023