By Lucky Gold & Samuel Burke
Italy’s unelected Prime Minister, Mario Monti, tells CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he will not run in the upcoming elections.
“I don't need to, because the president of the republic appointed me senator for life,” Monti said Tuesday. “And I think it's important that the full political game resumes in Italy, hopefully with a higher degree of responsibility and of maturity. We are helping that by being part of the European Union. Obviously, I will facilitate as much as I can the evolution.”
Putting out a big European fire
Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti, in New York this week for the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, sounded a note of optimism about the fate of the euro: “Since June-July of this year I am much more confident about the future of the eurozone.”
Appearing Tuesday on CNN's Amanpour program, Monti credited the tough economic measures his government has instituted, even if they have deepened the recession in the short run.
“It’s normal that Italy is still in a recession because the measures we introduced, if anything, did deepen the recession a bit…. But above all we took Italy out of the list of the countries that might have created a big European fire.”
However, he acknowledged that there was much more work to be done. “Can I borrow an expression that President Obama used this morning in his speech to the General Assembly? He spoke of the Arab world after the [Arab] Spring - of the painstaking work of reform. That exactly applies equally to domestic reforms in each of our countries. And I’m glad to say that although the Italian people have been subjected by the government I chair to an unprecedented amount of sacrifices, and discipline and eliminating privileges and grants, the Italian people so far have behaved in a highly responsible manner.”
It was not a showdown. It was a vigorous working-together.
Unlike financier George Soros, who has called on Germany “to lead or leave” the eurozone, Monti said, “Leadership from Germany is welcome, especially if at the same time the German leaders are able to lead their own domestic public opinion to understand the responsibilities of leading Europe.”
To that end, “Chancellor [Angela] Merkel has gone a long way toward gradually achieving this. Thanks to the evolution in Germany, the mechanisms for the governance of the EuroZone are being improved by the month. It was a bit late but I think we got there.”
“A bit late?” Perhaps that was due to Chancellor Merkel’s resistance to Monti’s proposals, which came to a head last summer in a now-famous showdown? The Prime Minister was diplomatic: “It was not a showdown. It was a vigorous working together. And I think everybody is now happy that what we agreed unanimously - albeit at five am in the morning I must admit - is well received.”
Asked if he threatened to block all deals until the German Chancellor took action, Monti would only say, “I had to get convincing, which can be done softly. And at no moment was it personal against Chancellor Merkel.”
CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.