EU-US: Obama honey words ahead of Monti visit
9 February 2012
“Italy is taking impressive steps”. On the day Italian PM Mario Monti makes his first official visit to Washington, La Stampa devotes its front page to its exclusive interview with Barack Obama. The US president sang the pre-emptive praises of the new prime minster, saying he is “modernizing the Italian economy” and has “put the country back on the path towards growth”. But Obama had soothing words also for the entire European Union -
Over the last two years, Europe has taken a number of crucial yet very difficult steps to address the mounting crisis. In Italy and across Europe, citizens are making painful sacrifices. European governments have come together to reform the architecture of the European Union. […] Our economic fortunes are inextricably linked, and our economic relationship with Europe is an important part of our efforts to create jobs and prosperity in the United States. The European Union is America’s single largest economic partner.
Nevertheless the president said European countries need to raise a “bigger firewall” to prevent the debt crisis to spread, and must “show their absolute commitment to the future of economic integration in Europe”.
Obama also stressed the importance of NATO – praising Italy’s decision to extend its commitment in Afghanistan beyond 2014 – and Europe’s role in the “Arab spring”, hoping it will help add pressure on Syria’s Bashar el Assad to resign. But if Washington is already mulling over military intervention, as disclosed by CNN, European countries still oppose it and count on a last-gasp diplomatic solution, La Stampa reports.