[ROME] Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Tuesday that structural reforms already undertaken by Rome had placed the country "out of the firing line" of Greek debt crisis fallout.
"We have taken a courageous path of structural reform, the economy is headed towards recovery and the European Central Bank's umbrella is protecting us. These three considerations make this crisis different for Italy than the one four years ago," Mr Renzi told economic daily Il Sole 24 Ore, referring to the 2011 spread of the Greek debt crisis to other heavily-indebted eurozone economies.
"Italy is already out of the firing line" of the kinds of market reactions during the 2011 crisis that sent borrowing costs for countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal up to untenable levels, Mr Renzi said.
With renewed contagion of the Greek crisis to other euro members no longer a threat, Mr Renzi maintained, his "concern isn't over what could happen to Italy, but over the scenarios of global difficulties that may arise."
Asked about the role of Germany's hardline position in the breakdown of Eurogroup bailout negotiations with Athens, Mr Renzi said any effort to blame Berlin for the situation was "a convenient alibi that doesn't correspond to reality."
"Mrs Merkel really tried to find a solution. I believe the referendum announcement threw her," Mr Renzi said of Friday's decision by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to hold a public vote next Sunday on austerity conditions demanded by Athens' creditors in exchange for blocked bailout funds.
"Now, the risk is that the referendum becomes about Mrs Merkel versus Mr Tsipras. That would be a mistake, and it's what (Mr Tsipras) wants. It wasn't by chance that he won (January) elections by speaking out more against Mrs Merkel than for Greece," he said.
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