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Italian report Italian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-05-28 09:00:34
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Letta promises “Hard but I hope temporary sacrifices”

“The time has come for sacrifices”, accords to Paolo Bonaiuti, who called for a signal of fairness from top earners. Gianni Letta stressed: “The measures include sacrifices that are very heavy, very hard and let’s hope temporary”. Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, chimed in: “Sacrifices should be distributed among taxpayers with fairness”. The government is hard at work fine-tuning corrective economic measures for the next two years in a package is equivalent to 1.6% of GDP, which should bring the deficit back below 3% of GDP from last year’s 5.3% and offer reassurance about the nation’s accounts to financial markets worried about the possible spread of the Greek crisis. With the International Monetary Fund calling on Italy not to relax fiscal discipline, to reduce the public debt and boost its long-term growth rate, cuts and savings are needed. The Council of Ministers is due to convene at 6 pm on Tuesday to approve the package after meeting local authorities and social partners.

“The package will be worth 24 billion Euros”, said Paolo Bonaiuti, the spokesman for the Council of Ministers. “Yesterday, I met the economy minister, Giulio Tremonti. It was an intense day’s work”. When asked for more details on Canale 5’s La telefonata programme, hosted by Maurizio Belpietro, Mr Bonaiuti explained that there will be no building amnesties (“it’s more a case of registering those two million properties”) and also ruled out new taxes (“No one will be dipping into the taxpayer’s pocket”).

Gianni Letta also commented on the issue. The junior minister for the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that the package will contain “a series of very heavy, very hard sacrifices that we are forced to make, I hope temporarily, to an already defined timescale, in order to safeguard Italy from the Greek risk. Look at it this way and we can all understand”. Mr Letta referred to “an extraordinary package we call ‘Urgent Measures for Financial Stability and Economic Competitiveness’ that has been imposed on us by Europe, as it has for other countries, including Spain, Portugal, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, all of which are taking steps in a desperate but I hope successful attempt to ward off an epoch-defining crisis and save the euro”.


Italy hit back at amnesty attack on migrant policy

The Italian government hit back on Thursday after Amnesty International criticised its 'push-back' policy of forced expulsion of migrants and asylum-seekers in the country's section of its annual report. The organisation said the practice of sending people intercepted or rescued at sea to Libya violated the 'principle of non-refoulement', according to which people should not be returned to a country where they risk serious human rights abuses.

But the government says the policy, which started last May, abides by international law and has led to a massive drop in the number of migrants arriving in Italy by boat.  Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters that the report was "disgraceful" and said the accusations should be "returned to sender" because "Italy is definitely the European country that has saved more people than any other at sea". In its report, cataloguing alleged abuses all over the world, not just in Italy, Amnesty quoted government figures as saying 834 people were taken to Libya between May and September last year.

"Dozens of women, at least one of whom was pregnant, and many children were among them," D'Alconzo said. "This hasn't weakened crime or improved security. It has contributed to stigmatising all migrants and reduced asylum requests". Amnesty also claimed Italy continues to expel terrorist suspects to Tunisia despite rulings by the European Court of Human Rights that this also breaches the non-refoulement principle. "Amnesty has always done its bit but our data is very clear", Frattini said, adding that the report was "disgraceful in view of the efforts by policemen and policewomen to save people every day, exactly the opposite of what Amnesty claims".


Italian priests' secret mistresses ask pope to scrap celibacy rule

Dozens of Italian women who have had relationships with Roman Catholic priests or lay monks have endorsed an open letter to the pope that calls for the abolition of the celibacy rule. The letter, thought by one signatory to be unprecedented, argues that a priest "needs to live with his fellow human beings, experience feelings, love and be loved".

It also pleads for understanding of those who "live out in secrecy those few moments the priest manages to grant [us] and experience on a daily basis the doubts, fears and insecurities of our men". The issue was put back on the Vatican's agenda in March when one of Pope Benedict's senior advisers, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, said the abolition of the celibacy rule might curb sex abuse by priests, a suggestion he hastily withdrew after Benedict spoke up for "the principle of holy celibacy".

The authors of the letter said they decided to come into the open after hearing his retort, which they said was an affirmation of "the holiness of something that is not holy" but a man-made rule. There are many instances of married priests in the early centuries of Christianity. Today, priests who follow the eastern Catholic rites can be married, as can those who married before converting to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism.

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