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If Greece exits, don't expect us to follow: Italian finance minister

No matter what the Greeks may say, Italy is not at risk of leaving the euro if Greece does, Italy's Finance Minister told CNBC.

"I think that any relationship between 'Grexit' and Italy is out of place," said Pier Carlo Padoan, using the parlance for a Greek exit from the currency zone while speaking on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti conference on Lake Como. "Italy has significantly strengthened its position. Italy is gaining a lot of confidence in the markets."

Greece and its European partners are in the middle of tough negotiations over the conditions Greece must meet in order to secure billions more in bailout money. Without those funds, Greece is at high risk of having to put capital controls in place, which would significantly raise the likelihood that the country would leave the 19-member currency union.

New Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has repeatedly told reporters, hedge fund managers, and anyone else who will listen that if Greece were to leave the Euro, the markets would start to price in the risk of Italy leaving the currency zone as well.

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When asked if Varoufakis is right, he responded: "I don't know whether it is right. I think that any 'Grexit' option would be very bad, and I think it's [in the] interest of everybody to be united within the euro and to move toward a stronger growth prospect for Greece."

Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan.
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images
Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan.

Padoan added that he does not believe that Italy would face substantially higher interest rates in the face of Greek exit.

"I don't think so, because to the extent that [interest rates] price risk, the Italian risk will not increase as a consequence of a Greece accident," he said, then adding, "Because the fundamentals in Italy have very much strengthened over the recent past as for instance the assessment by the commission of our fiscal and growth position shows."

The European Commission, the currency area's executive body, approves individual countries' budgets to ensure they meet the fiscal and financial guidelines of the euro zone.

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An Italian exit from the euro zone would be far more devastating than a Greek departure would be, because European banks—particularly the ones in Italy—still hold large amounts of Italian sovereign debt on their books, whereas most of Greece's debt is held by other governments and institutions like the International Monetary Fund.

Italy is the third most indebted country in the world, after the United States and Japan, with more than 2 trillion euros ($2.12 trillion) in debt, and a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 120 percent.