'Italy can be stronger than Germany': Renzi

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Italian Premier Matteo Renzi claimed Italy's economy could in future drive Europe. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP
13:24 CEST+02:00
Italy can become the economic powerhouse of Europe, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has claimed.

"If Italy does what it needs to do, it can become stronger than any country – even Germany," Il Sole 24 Ore quoted him as saying during a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sunday.

"We will surprise Europe with our growth. Now that the reforms have been put in place we are stunning the world because we have made a commitment which we are maintaining," the premier said.

Since coming to power in 2014 Renzi's government has passed a number of reforms affecting areas as diverse as banking, public administration and education.

Earlier this month, the Italian government raised its forecast for GDP growth this year to 0.9 percent, and Renzi has been quick to point out that the country's slow emergence from recession has coincided with a number of his reforms coming into being.

"Italians have been a bit scared in the last few years, but If we get our belief back then we will surprise Europe," he added.

Renzi also spoke at the 70th UN General Assembly in New York on Sunday morning – and pledged €50 million from Italy to promote gender equality in the developing world – money which will be used to end barbaric practices such as forced marriage and female circumcision.

Renzi commented that Italy itself had made great strides in terms of gender equality.

"Many of our business leaders and politicians are women," he said.

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But, while addressing the room the lights frequently went down, causing Renzi to joke: “This is not Italy's fault.”

After the lights repeatedly failed during his address Renzi finished his speech by saying: “The head of our largest energy company is a woman – we could ask her to help out during the next assembly!"

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