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Reactions to death of former Italian prime minister Berlusconi

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MILAN (Reuters) – Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a billionaire businessman who created Italy’s largest media company and led AC Milan to international soccer glory before transforming the political landscape, died aged 86.

Here are some reactions to the news of his death:

GIORGIA MELONI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER

“Silvio Berlusconi was above all a fighter, he was a man who was never afraid to defend his beliefs and it was exactly that courage, that determination that made him one of the most influential men in the history of Italy”

“We fought, won, lost many battles with him, and for him too we will bring home the goals that we had jointly set ourselves. Farewell Silvio.”

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT

“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”

POPE FRANCIS

In a message to Berlusconi’s eldest daughter Marina, he offered his “heartfelt participation in the mourning for the loss of a protagonist of Italian political life, who held public responsibilities with energetic temperament.”

VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER

“Gone is the great fighter”

SPOKESPERSON FOR RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER

“Silvio Berlusconi made a huge impact on Italian politics over several decades, and our thoughts are with the Italian people and his family.”

FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR

“Silvio Berlusconi was a larger than life figure with whom I worked closely for several years as Prime Minister. I know he was controversial for many but for me he was a leader whom I found capable, shrewd and, most important, true to his word.”

MARIO DRAGHI, FORMER ITALIAN PREMIER AND FORMER ECB GOVERNOR

“As an entrepreneur, he changed the world of communications and sports with extraordinary initiative and innovation. As a leader, he transformed politics and was loved by millions of Italians for his humanity and charisma.”

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT

“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.”

ROBERTA METSOLA, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT

“Father, entrepreneur, MEP, Prime Minister, senator. He has left his mark and will not be forgotten. Thank you Silvio.”

EUROPEAN PEOPLE’S PARTY, WHICH INCLUDES FORZA ITALIA

“Today, we mourn the loss of Silvio Berlusconi. He was the founder and leader of Forza Italia, the longest-serving Italian Prime Minister in the post-war era & a leading force in our political family. Our sympathy & condolences to his family & loved ones.”

BERLUSCONI’S FORZA ITALIA PARTY

“We wish we could never let you go. Goodbye President. Your political community.”

MATTEO SALVINI, ITALIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND TRANSPORT MINISTER

“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.”

ELLY SCHLEIN, LEADER OF OPPOSITION CENTRE-LEFT DEMOCRATIC PARTY

“With the death of Silvio Berlusconi an era comes to an end. Everything has divided us and divides us from his political vision, but the respect that is humanly due to one who was a protagonist in the history of our country remains.”

AC MILAN, WHICH BERLUSCONI OWNED 1986-2017

“The Club extends its condolences to the family of the unforgettable President of the Rossoneri. Deeply saddened, AC Milan grieves the passing of the unforgettable Silvio Berlusconi and wishes to reach out to the family, associates, and most cherished friends to share our sympathies… Thank you, Mr. President. Always with us.”

ADRIANO GALLIANI, FORMER AC MILAN CEO AND CURRENT AC MONZA CEO

“Distraught, speechless, with immense grief I mourn my friend, the master of everything, the person who changed my life for over 43 years. Rest in peace dear President.”

(Reporting by Federico Maccioni, Alvise Armellini and Emilio Parodi, editing by Gianluca Semeraro, Hugh Lawson and Angus MacSwan)

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