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Despite Italy slipping back into recession amid a stagnant economic environment, the president of one of the country's richest regions said the country doesn't need Germany -- or anybody else's -- help to recover.
"I don't want to be helped by the Germans or by anybody else, I want to be strong enough to grow and to sort my own problems. Can we do this as Italians? Yes, we can. We just have to work harder and do the right things," Roberto Maroni, the President of the Lombardy region in northern Italy, told CNBC on Tuesday.
"In Italy, it's more difficult than elsewhere in the world because we are Italians. It's a good thing to be Italian but it's more difficult to do the same thing in Italy than in Germany or in France. But I think that we will have to do it."
Maroni's comments come at a time of economic woe for Italy. The country slipped back into recession in the second quarter of 2014, according to data released by Italy's statistics agency ISTAT, in August.
In an attempt to boost growth, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi unveiled a budget-busting program of tax cuts and additional borrowing in order to resuscitate the economy. He has also proposed sweeping reforms to the labor market to encourage hiring as the unemployment rate topped 12.3 percent in August.
The 2015 budget has put Italy on a collision course with Europe, however, as it pushes the country's public deficit right up to the 3 percent limit set by the European Commission.
Read more: Why forgiveness could be France's best bet
Maroni, a senior member and former leader of the opposition right-wing party Northern League, said the proposals were not enough on their own. "I think that he is doing maybe the right things but in the wrong way. He wants to reform the labor market but…it only works if you have economic growth. That is the way you can create new jobs, not simply changing the laws."
"We're in a moment when economic growth is far away from coming to Italy," he added. "Before making these reforms you need to boost economic growth and that's not what Matteo Renzi is doing now."
Perhaps not surprisingly for a former leader of the anti-euro, anti-immigration Northern League party, Maroni said that if Brussels did not give Italy flexibility around its fiscal target in order for Italy to return to growth, the country "should leave the European Union." "It's not possible to stay if this is against our interests," he said.
Maroni resigned from the party leadership in late 2013 to concentrate on his presidency of the Lombardy region, a position he won in the national election in 2013.
The region is known for its agricultural, manufacturing and clothing industries, producing many of the "Made in Italy" brands exported globally that have helped to make the region among the wealthiest in Italy, according to Eurostat data.
Maroni said that contrary to a lack of competitiveness seen elsewhere in the Italian economy, Lombardy was thriving.
"Italy is made of different regions, what happens in Sicily is quite different to what happens in Lombardy [where] we are able to attract investments. In Lombardy we have experienced an increase in economic growth. You always look at what Italy is but there are different areas and we can compete."
- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter
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