Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Wednesday defended his track record in leading Italy through the European financial crisis and told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the country had regained credibility in the eyes of investors.
"I can feel that Italy has gained back respect and confidence in its ability to bounce back. I see a very concrete interest of business and investors for the opportunities my country can offer for economic growth and innovation," Monti, who led a technocratic government for a year, said.
"The progress is not negligible...Structural reforms are important because they lay the foundation for future growth," he said.
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Italy, like other euro zone nations, has implemented tough austerity measures to reduce its high levels of government debt. Investors pushed its borrowing costs ever higher as they lost confidence in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's government to implement economic reforms.
The country is poised for elections in February. Monti will lead a centrist alliance, challenging Silvio Berlusconi and the center left Democratic party.
He paid tribute to the "resilience and maturity" of Italian citizens who "understood the need for change" and said their sacrifices in a difficult time had not been overlooked by the wider euro zone.
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He said he had never doubted that taking the reins in the midst of financial turmoil in Italy would be an uphill struggle.
Short termism meant that Italy had in the past not made the most of its euro zone membership and that it had wasted a primary surplus without delivering reforms, Monti said.