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Berlin bats back Berlusconi barbs

Published: 11 Dec 2012 17:38 GMT+01:00

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin Merkel said: "I support what Mario Monti's government has put in place."

The reforms he has carried out have resulted in Italy winning back at least part of the confidence of the financial markets, she added.

"Therefore the Italian people will clearly vote to put Italy on a good path," Merkel said.

Stock markets sold off sharply and borrowing costs soared after a weekend of political drama in Italy in which Monti said he would soon step down and his mercurial predecessor Berlusconi announced a return to politics. Elections are now expected to be held in February.

Berlusconi on Tuesday set the tone for his upcoming election campaign accusing Monti of being "German-centric" and said that all the main economic indicators had worsened since the former Eurocrat was installed in power.

Speaking in Berlin before leaving for a meeting in Morocco on the Syrian crisis, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle hit back, saying it was unacceptable for Germany to be used as a target in a "popularist election campaign."

"Neither Germany nor Europe is to blame for the difficulties in Italy. On the contrary, Germany has always been a great help in overcoming the problems," he added.

Monti's reforms are "of great importance for the stability of Italy but also for the stability of Europe," stressed the minister.

Conversely, if the reforms were to be wound back, "it would be not only a sad development for Italy, it would be a dangerous development for Europe," insisted Westerwelle.

Monti has been credited with pushing through much needed economic reforms in Italy and markets rewarded him by pushing down borrowing costs that at one point were so high a bailout looked likely.

Heavily-indebted Italy has the eurozone's fourth biggest economy and severe financial problems there would represent a fresh chapter in the 17-nation bloc's ongoing debt crisis.

The European Central Bank also warned on Monday that any new Italian leader must continue reform efforts.

AFP/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

20:18 December 11, 2012 by TheCrownPrince
Even the possibility of a comeback concerning Silvio B. tells me that there must be something completely wrong in italian politics. How immature and nutty can voters be, wasting their vote for this ridiculous clown? He won't be taken seriously anywhere abroad, foreign investors will abandon Italy, necessary reforms won't be made. What lunacy!
20:20 December 11, 2012 by smart2012
First berlusconi is a populistic i.... However if he has an argument is cause Verkel has screwed up by driving the eu agenda, and people do not see an end.

Last, Italy is third biggest eu economy in eu, not fourth, and it is paying a lot of money to support Europe. Why fourth?
01:59 December 12, 2012 by www.emungus.net
ITALY: FALL IN DISGRACE

Courtesy is not always a good companion by the fact that sometimes it overshadows the truth . Nevertheless , can we finally dare by admitting that Italy is a failed state? No, sorry...courtesy requires, let us rephrase that statement : the land of Benito Mussolini may fall in disgrace.
05:24 December 12, 2012 by jmclewis
There should be a Club of bad Pols ....... Lets See Both Bushes, Clinton for Glass Stegal, Obama proved he could out spend Bush.... Merkel........Mr Boom Boom ...... I cannot name a good French Leaders....
10:00 December 12, 2012 by smart2012
emungus, can u express some more facts to justify your populistic statement?
10:41 December 12, 2012 by raandy
All politics by Berlusconi, he is taking advantage of the painful austerity measures and the general dislike like for the German insistance on them.
17:15 December 12, 2012 by michael4096
"...can u express some more facts to justify your populistic statement?"

From smart! Best laugh I had all day!
17:37 December 12, 2012 by www.emungus.net
Dear smart2012,

Sorry you feel it that way. I did back up that statement, here are some comparative facts :

ITALY

Unemployment: 10.8%

Average gross salary: 2,521 € / 3,403 $, monthly

GERMAY

Unemployment: 5.4%

Average gross salary: 4,217 € / 5,692 $, monthly

(For further details, please refer to : World economic outlook database, International Monetary Fund)
18:25 December 12, 2012 by pjnt
Burlusconi makes me laugh. Italians make me laugh because they think Burlusconi isn't funny.

What a joke.
15:18 December 21, 2012 by jg.
@smart2012 "Last, Italy is third biggest eu economy in eu, not fourth, and it is paying a lot of money to support Europe. Why fourth?"

GDP: Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain,...
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