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Berlin dismisses possibility of Italy leaving euro

Ex-premier Berlusconi suggested return to lira may be necessary

19 December, 14:13
Berlin dismisses possibility of Italy leaving euro (ANSA) - Rome, December 19 - The German government on Wednesday said there was no question of Italy leaving the eurozone after ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi suggested a return to the lira might be necessary.

"There is no sign that responsible institutions think a fanciful and negative scenario for Italy like an exit from the euro is possible," said Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert. Berlusconi, who this month said he had dropped plans to retire from front-line politics and would run for a fourth term as premier in general elections expected to take place in February, said Italy may be forced to leave the eurozone if the European Central Bank is not given more powers to ensure lower borrowing costs.

"If Germany does not accept the fact that the ECB must be a real central bank and if interest rates don't come down, we will be forced to leave the euro and return to our own currency in order to be competitive," Berlusconi said on a chat show on state broadcaster Rai on Tuesday.