Text of report by Italian privately owned centrist newspaper La
Stampa website, on 27 September.
[OSC Translated Text] ["Behind-the-scenes" report by "P. Mas.": "Prime Minister Reassures Geithner: 'We Will Continue With Rigour'"]
New York - After [Italian Prime Minister] Monti, assuming that next spring there will be a post-Monti [government] in Italy, there will not be a disaster: "The people of Italy have matured, they have understood what the situation is, and they will still continue the policies necessary to resolve it." This was how the prime minister responded to the concerns of US Treasury Secretary Geithner and of the other illustrious guests, whom he met with on Tuesday evening for dinner, and whom he has seen in private in the two days he spent in New York.
The rendezvous was at the celebrated restaurant Le Cirque di Sirio Maccioni, which for decades has been the privileged meeting- place for New York's VIPs. And Tuesday evening was no exception. On the ground floor, Tony Blair was celebrating his wife's birthday, among lobsters, halibut, and chocolate souffle, while near his table an African head of state was recovering from the labours of the UN General Assembly. On entering, Monti, accompanied by Foreign Minister Terzi and by the ambassador to Washington, Bisogniero, immediately bumped into an old acquaintance: Jack Welch, the legendary chief executive officer of General Electric, with whom he had clashed when he was a [European] Commissioner in Brussels, because he blocked his firm's merger with Honeywell. "Welch - Monti joked - was the first to get to know the determination of the young Europe. Even before Bill Gates, who learnt from his experience."
At the top of the stairs, in the small room reserved for guests of honour, waiting for the prime minister was a group of economic and financial celebrities, such as: Geithner; the Fed Chairman in New York, William Dudley; the chief economist at Moody's Analytics, Mark Zandi; and various CEOs of major firms. The guest list also included Soros, although Monti saw him in private yesterday evening, as he had done the day before with the financier Henry Kravis.
The most oft-repeated questions around the table related to Italy's political future: The new, virtuous course is all well and good, but what will happen in April? A few hours earlier, the prime minister confirmed to CNN that he will not stand as a candidate, and his guests were worried. "The elections will be held - Monti said - and this will determine the government. But we will have continuity in economic policies, whatever the outcome of the vote, because the people of Italy have matured. They have understood that the things we are doing are not being imposed by Europe: They are necessary, and they must be pursued afterward, too." Monti will not stand as a candidate, because he is a life senator, and the outcome of the election does not exclude some form of future participation on his part in Italy's political actions, and government actions. But before his US guests, many of whom were potential investors, the priority was to reassure: Don't worry over the solidity of the executive in office, the scandals along the lines of Lazio Region, or the debate on domestic questions such as the electoral law. The elections will decide the government, but the stance of responsibility is now set out, especially in the consciences of ordinary people, and so the politicians will not be able to go off course too much. Between one course and another, the guests wanted to know better the mechanisms of the aid announced by the ECB, and the possibility that Italy may also access it, as well as Spain. As regards the former hypothesis, Monti had already told CNN that he regarded it as improbable, but nevertheless, if it happened, the form in which it took place would not involve a loss of national sovereignty. As for the second hypothesis, "Spain is taking the steps necessary for emerging from the crisis," as is Greece, which the prime minister believed will not quit the euro.
The last word was spoken by Geithner, the most illustrious guest, who up until that moment had listened to the questions of the other diners. "It is surprising - he said - that Italy h as changed in such a short space of time, also recreating confidence in Europe." The important thing, now, is not to go back to the mistakes of the past.
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