Silvio Berlusconi says immigrants not welcome but 'beautiful girls' can stay
The Italian prime minister, who is renowned for making jokes of questionable taste, was speaking to journalists after holding talks with the prime minister of Albania, Sali Berisha, Telegraph reported.
Mr Berlusconi, 73, said an accord between Italy and Albania had successfully clamped down on the trafficking of illegal immigrants across the Adriatic Sea by people smugglers.
He then joked: "I said to Sali - we'd make exceptions for anyone bringing over beautiful girls." Mr Berlusconi, whose wife is divorcing him for his alleged philandering, also joked with female Albanian journalists: "You know I'm single now."
His remarks were criticised by his opponents as boorish and inappropriate. "Berlusconi never tires of this barrack room humour," said Paola Pellegrini, an opposition MP.
"Even in reference to a tragedy such as impoverished people trying to come to our country, the prime minister reiterates his view of women as fresh meat to be consumed. He's an unseemly old man."
The media mogul, who faced a string of sex scandals last year, joked earlier in the week that his plans for Valentine's Day included "using my computer and sending wishes to all my girlfriends".
He has a history of making ribald remarks at international summits and during meetings with heads of state.
In November he told the president of Kazakhstan, who was in Rome for a visit, that a spike in the country's population was due to the virility of its men.
The quip recalled the kind of remarks made by Sacha Baron Cohen's fictional television journalist Borat in the 2006 film Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.