Three days after Italy plunged into a deep political crisis, its tensions with Brussels and Berlin took another leap when an EU politician warned of an “invasion” of Rome if the economic situation worsens.
The finger-wagging came from German politician and member of the European Parliament Markus Ferber. He claimed that the almighty Troika – the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank – might be forced to take extreme measures and ‘invade’ Italy. For its own good.
“In the worst case scenario, Italy – as Greece – will go bankrupt,” the German politician said in an interview published by a correspondent of German ZDF TV. “Then the Troika will have to invade Rome and take over Italy’s Ministry of Finance.”
Ferber also said the possibility of Italy going bankrupt would have serious ramifications for Europe, that it would not be able to either contain the financial crisis or pay off Italy’s debts.
The defiant stand taken by the member of the EU Parliament did not go down well in Rome. The leader of the anti-establishment Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini, responded to the threat on Twitter, urging the Germans to mind their own business, adding that “whenever the Germans talk about ‘invading’ a country, it is never a good sign.”
The conflict between Salvini and the German politicians took off when EU budget chief Gunther Oettinger implied that Italy was ill-advised to vote in the populists who have thought about alienating Italy from the Eurozone, but, Oettinger said, “the markets will teach them how to vote.”
Despite the fact that both the journalist who interviewed Oettinger and the EU executive himself dismissed the comment as incorrectly translated and misinterpreted, their apologies meant little to those fuming on social media.
The menacing remark triggered an avalanche of criticism. Outraged by what he called the “German desire for hegemony,” Salvini said the Brussels officials “didn’t have any shame” and insisted on Oettinger’s immediate resignation.
Coming only a day after the EU budget chief’s major gaffe, Ferber’s voicing of the Troika’s plans to force Rome to obey the Eurozone sounded perilously similar to what already happened in Greece.
Back in 2015, the Greek people loudly opposed austerity measures enacted by the Troika. Greece tried to resist pressure from EU officials to meet their severe budget targets, but, under intense pressure from Brussels and Berlin, the Greek government closed its eyes to the will of the austerity-weary people and enacted even tougher measures.
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