ROME Center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi reacted angrily on Monday to negative comments from foreign politicians and media about his decision to run as a candidate to lead Italy for the fifth time, calling it an offensive interference in domestic affairs.
He said in a statement that he had always been a "convinced supporter of Europe" and that the comments criticizing him were "out of place" and "offensive not so much to me personally but to the free choice of the Italians."
He suggested that the "interference" in Italian affairs may be an attempt to weaken the share price of Italian companies and make them easier takeover targets.
Italian bond yields rose and shares fell on Monday after Berlusconi announced at the weekend that he would run in the election and Prime Minister Mario Monti said he would resign as soon as parliament passed the 2013 budget.
(Reporting by Francesca Piscioneri, writing by Gavin Jones)