Do you see any way for Greece to exit the euro zone and not to harm the other countries?
No, I believe there is no way for Greece to exit the euro zone and not to harm other countries. It is also in the overwhelming interest of all other countries that Greece should stay in the euro zone but, of course, continue the deep process of fiscal discipline and structural reforms that it has embarked upon. What the Greeks are achieving is falling short of the requirements of the E.U. and the [International Monetary Fund], yet it is very remarkable. Normally, it takes a generation to have a change in culture and policies of the sort that we want Greece to achieve in three or four years.
Do you think it is unrealistic?
That they deliver fully is unrealistic. That they deliver to a sufficiently high degree is realistic — painful but needed. Under those conditions, and this will be the position of Italy, we should support Greece and its continued membership in the E.U.
If Greece goes, won’t there be a question of what country goes next?
That is one of the reasons why it is in the general interest that Greece stays.
What about your own future? Reportedly, a coalition could be formed in the next election that would ask you to stay on as prime minister. Would you be agreeable to staying on?
I really have not at all reflected on this topic. I have been so committed to running the country in these difficult months.
Do you want to become president? What are your future ambitions?
My political future on which I concentrate ends in the spring of next year with the elections. I conceive of my unexpected policy commitment as a short-lived one, and I want to bring it to good fruition for the country.
If you leave, are you concerned that Italy may go back to politics as usual — that the gains you were able to make will be lost?
Of course I am concerned about that. I am hopeful that will not happen because politicians have had time to reflect and are working for their rejuvenation. And also Italy, like other countries, is working under European constraints, which limits the degree of imaginative policies that any new government or parliament might bring about.
Italy has a vibrant manufacturing sector. Would you ever consider having Italy leave the E.U. so you could depreciate your currency?
It is good to have that question and to answer it with a resounding no. The Italian economy has many structural reforms still to undergo but the industry in Italy has strengthened as the result of having to work in a system of a fixed exchange rates without having the usual benefit of occasional, competitive devaluations.