mercoledì 4 giugno 2014

Renzi debuts at G7

Aims to reassure EU allies on reform programme

(ANSA) - Rome, June 4 - Italian Premier Matteo Renzi on Wednesday took his place among global leaders for his first-ever Group of Seven (G7) summit - the first in 16 years where Russia, amid the Ukraine crisis, has not been invited to make it a G8. Renzi arrived for the dinner of heads of State and government kicking off the summit, which ends Thursday. Renzi, 39, became Italy's youngest premier in February after ousting party colleague Enrico Letta, capturing the imagination of international media with his boyish dash and bold vision for change.

He has since launched a programme of reforms as ambitious as it is daring, aiming to rejuvenate Italy's sclerotic, bloated and slow-moving political body and overhaul its long-stagnant economic machine. In his highest-profile appearance yet, one of Renzi's main tasks, aside from cementing Italy's good ties with America in talks with President Barack Obama, is to reassure EU leaders that his reform programme can lift Italy out of recession while sticking to Brussels-mandated fiscal rigour.

While the premier has always insisted he will cleave to financial orthodoxy, he has also been openly advocating wiggle room for growth-stoking investments - and he is expected to try to lobby for this again in Brussels. Among other things, his reforms seek to boost business by slashing red tape, simplifying political and tax systems and investing in the construction sector - starting with a major school refurbishment programme. He is expected to get support for his pump-priming strategies from several countries that have been on the wrong end of austerity policies.

The summit, which will discuss the Ukrainian crisis and relations with Russia among global policy topics, will have a rather awkward uninvited guest for the first time since 1998 - no representative from the Kremlin. "It could seem like a normal summit, but it won't be in any way," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bundestag. Merkel said Russia's "violations of international laws" and Ukrainian "sovereignty" had led to the exclusion of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turmoil in the Ukraine saw Russia claim sovereignty over the Crimea after a March referendum in the majority Russian language region, which resulted in overwhelming official support for joining Russia. Ukrainian officials decried the move as violating Ukraine's constitution and international law. Violent clashes between Ukrainian government and pro-Russian secessionists continue in eastern Ukraine. A draft statement, leaked Wednesday night, called Russia's action in Ukraine "unacceptable". It urged Moscow to "hasten its withdrawal from Ukraine and start up dialogue". It also said there was "no future" for President Bashas al-Assad in Syria.

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