Wed, Aug 01, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Italian PM sees light at the end of tunnel for Italy, EU

AFP, MILAN and ATHENS

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti meet in Rome on July 4. Merkel and Monti pledged to do everything necessary to shield the eurozone from the debt crisis.

Photo: AFP

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said yesterday that the end of the tunnel was in sight for Italy and the EU, after the European Central Bank (ECB) and eurozone leaders pledged to save the euro.

“We and the rest of Europe are getting closer to the end of the tunnel. There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Monti said in an interview with the Radio Anch’io program on Rai Radio ahead of a meeting in Paris with French President Francois Hollande yesterday.

“The decisions we took ... on June 28 and June 29 are very important [and] ... now we are seeing the consequences, in terms of greater willingness on the part of European institutions and governments” to put them into action, he said.

The key to surviving the crisis “is the implementation without delay of the decisions taken in Brussels,” he added, referring to what was described at the time as a “breakthrough” at the June 28 and 29 summit.

After Paris, Monti will travel to Helsinki and Madrid. He is expected in Berlin and The Hague later this month.

Debt-laden Italy’s worrying borrowing costs eased at a bond sale on Monday after promises from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Hollande, Monti and the ECB to do everything in their power to save the eurozone.

Despite increasing concern among investors over Italy’s future following a general election scheduled for April next year, Monti refused to be drawn on whether he could be convinced by supporters to stand for prime minister.

“I am consciously tuning out that question,” he told the interviewer.

Meanwhile, Greek ruling coalition leaders pressed on Monday with talks on spending cuts needed to unlock a 31.5 billion euro (US$38.65 billion) loan installment from the country’s EU-IMF rescue package.

After two hours of talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, his socialist and moderate leftist allies said they were working on a “strategic framework” to pull the country out of a five-year recession.

“The discussion continues and will continue in the coming days,” said Fotis Kouvelis, head of the small Democratic Left party that supports the government.

“We are in complete agreement on the strategic planning to deal with problems,” he told reporters.

Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, head of the coalition’s third member, added: “We are creating a strategic framework to take the country out of recession. All three leaders agree on this,” he said.

Greece is under pressure to identify 11.5 billion euros in cuts under an EU-IMF deal finalized in February, a process delayed by elections in May and June.

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