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Berlusconi Says He Is a ‘Realist’ About Potential Euro Breakup

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, campaigning with elections five days away, said he recognized the the risks of a euro breakup.

“We are realists,” Berlusconi said today in an interview streamed on the website of Italian daily Corriere Della Sera. “But before us there would have to be other countries to exit like Greece, Ireland, Portugal.”

Berlusconi, 76, is pushing to ease European Union demands for austerity as he appeals to voters scarred by an 18-month recession. He has rejected the EU’s prescription of budget cuts to combat the sovereign debt crisis and said countries should instead rely on a backstop from the European Central Bank.

“The European Central Bank must become a fully fledged central bank,” Berlusconi said. “That means it should guarantee the sovereign debt of all countries that use the euro as a currency.”

Berlusconi said he was “a convinced supporter of the European Union.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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