An official delegation of the Italian Chamber of Deputies visited Athens on Thursday with the aim of conveying a message of solidarity to the Greek people.
The Italian delegation was headed by Rocco Buttiglione, vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, who was accompanied by Margherita Boniver, president of Italy?s Parliamentary Committee for Implementation Surveillance of the Schengen Accord, and Sandro Gozi, Democratic Party spokesman on the committee on EU policies.
The delegation met a number of Greek officials, including Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, Foreign Minister Stavros Dimas, Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos and New Democracy leader Antonios Samaras.
The delegation of Italian MPs sought to emphasize support for Greece and its people at this tough time.
“We want to express our admiration for the courage and maturity of the Greek government and Parliament, for the people accepting heavy but necessary sacrifices in order to regain stability,» Buttiglione said.
The deputies expressed their hope that Greece would find the stability it needs to encourage growth and job creation. The lawmakers said it was vital that the European Union showed greater unity and achieved greater balance between the needs of democracy and the market.
On this issue, the delegation pointed out that without the market it is not possible to produce wealth but that when the market demands heavy sacrifices — as is currently the case — there is a need for leaders who know how to explain to people the reasons for the sacrifices and for solidarity to be shown to countries in trouble.
Buttiglione underlined the importance of union in Europe by repeating a quote from Benjamin Franklin, made during the Continental Congress to encourage the American colonies to unite against British rule: «We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
“So if Europe does not go forward, we will all be hanged, also Germany, perhaps in the last place, but even Germany will be affected,» Buttiglione said.
Petsalnikos accepted the invitation of the president of the Italian Parliament, Gianfranco Fini, to visit Italy as soon as possible.