Italy's prime minister on Monday said his country
was prepared to stand by Greece as it emerges from an economic
crisis, adding that it must stick to its pledged reforms.
"Europe in mythology and history was born here, Europe first faced the crisis here and here is where it will be reborn," Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta told journalists following a meeting with his Greek counterpart Antonis Samaras in Athens.
The leaders discussed a number of issues, including the problem of illegal immigration facing both countries as well as the Greek and Italian EU presidencies in 2014.
Samaras and Letta also discussed the benefits stemming from the Trans Adriatic Pipeline Project (TAP), both in terms of energy as well as the creation of new jobs.
The 1.5-billion-euro (1.9 billion dollars) TAP scheme is designed to transport gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan, taking it via Greece and Albania across the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy and further into Western Europe.
The countries along TAP's route - Greece, Albania and Italy - stand to win billions of euros in investments while TAP shareholders EON Ruhrgas AG in Germany, Statoil in Norway and Axpo in Switzerland stand to profit from transporting and marketing the Azeri gas.
"We need a policy which will combine reforms with growth," said Samaras, who stressed the need for Greece to produce a primary surplus in order to return to growth and combat high unemployement, which currently stands at more than 27 per cent.
The Italian prime minister cancelled a scheduled visit to the Acropolis following a bus accident on Sunday near Napels that left 39 people dead.
"It is a very sad day for Italy, what happened last night. There are no words for it," said Letta. "It is a huge tragedy."
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