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Monti fears Europe could tear apart

Aug 05 2012 13:37 AFP

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Berlin - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has voiced fears that tensions sparked by the eurozone crisis have already turned countries against each other and must not be allowed to rip Europe apart.

Asked about resentment in Italy towards Germany and complaints of German arrogance in its handling of the debt crisis, Monti told Monday's edition of the German news magazine Der Spiegel that he was "concerned".

He said he had talked about growing resentment in Italy not only towards Germany and at times Chancellor Angela Merkel but also towards the EU and the euro, with Merkel herself, according to an advance copy of Der Spiegel.

But he said the problem went far beyond the relationship between Germany and Italy.

"The pressures, which have accompanied the eurozone in recent years, already bear the traits of a psychological breakup of Europe," Monti said. "We must work hard to contain it."

And he warned that if the euro became a reason for Europe to drift apart, "the foundations of the European project" would be destroyed.

The Italian prime minister also said he welcomed comments by the European Central Bank last week that the government bond market, where Italy and Spain's borrowing costs have soared, was distorted.

The problems behind this, he said, must be quickly resolved to prevent further uncertainty about the ability of the eurozone to deal with the crisis.

He also called on government chiefs to maintain clear room for manoeuvre in relation to their national parliaments.

"If governments were to let themselves be bound completely by the decisions of their parliaments without maintaining their own scope for negotiation, Europe is more likely to break up than see closer integration," he warned.

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