LONDON, July 15 (UPI) -- A German minister of the European Parliament Tuesday called the Italian government "racist."
The BBC said Martin Schulz, whose recent clash with the Italian prime minister set off a diplomatic row, made the remark during an interview with Germany's XXP television.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi earlier this month compared Schulz to a Nazi concentration camp guard -- sparking a major exchange of insults between politicians and media in both countries.
But the BBC said just as the flap was showing signs of quieting, Schultz reignited the controversy.
While commenting on reported proposals by an Italian minister that coastguards should fire on boats transporting illegal immigrants, Schulz said, "This is the second point that we have to watch -- that, quite simply, a racist government is in office in Italy."
Schulz originally angered Berlusconi by heckling him in the European Parliament him about legislation provided him with immunity from prosecution, and led to the suspension of a bribery trial.