Rome

Italy on 'razor's edge with EU', says Napolitano

President praises Letta, admits left-right executive tough

Italy on 'razor's edge with EU', says Napolitano

Rome, May 16 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has praised Italy's main political parties for making Premier Enrico Letta's left-right government possible but warned that elements in the political class have not realised the country is on the "razor's edge". Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party formed a pact in April to end two months of political deadlock after February's general election failed to produce a clear winner. But the coalition appears fragile and there is major friction between the parties over justice, amid Berlusconi's protests that he is the victim of persecution from magistrates after his legal problems worsened recently, and over the PdL's demands that the IMU propery tax be scrapped. Napolitano said in an interview published in Rome-based daily Il Messaggero on Thursday that he saw the start of new government as "serious and serene" and that Letta was not letting himself "be intimidated by polemics or incidents along the way". But the head of state added that it was not easy for the forces within government to "live together" as "the parties do not stop reacting to events, each on their own way". He also said that: "some people don't realise that we are on the razor's edge with respect to Brussels". Letta's government is hoping to convince the European Commission to remove its excessive-deficit procedure against Italy, with it forecasting that the deficit-to-GDP ratio will be just below the permitted 3% threshold this year, at 2.9%. Letta's predecessor, Mario Monti, helped steer Italy out of the centre of the eurozone debt crisis at the helm of an emergency technocrat administration. But the country is in a long recession and is seen as vulnerable to 'contagion' from problems in other countries because of its massive public debt of over two trillion euros. Napolitano also called on the parties to have measured reactions to criminal trials, a comment that seems directed at the PdL, with their leader Berlusconi involved in a number of cases. "The fewer disordered reactions there are, the better," he said.

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