In a country where almost no politician resigns, Letta’s decision – made independently – to “step aside”, as he himself said, has had a strong effect. “I am leaving the Parliament today, I gave a termination of contract letter to President Boldrini. I am resigning from Parliament but not from politics, because from politics you cannot resign” – the former premier said to Dimartedì, on La7. It was a way to give dignity back to the very essence of politics, that does not mean simply to occupy a chair. “I am not surrendering. I am stepping aside because I think we have not listened to the citizens, who have had enough of a policy made by people who do not want to do anything else, who do not have another job. But for me this is a restart. I will not shut up, I will always tell my opinion. On September 1st, I will start working with the school of International Affairs – Political Science “.
And it is exactly International Affairs that interest us, so we discussed the issue with Letta in an interview he gave to Interris.it to treat the European subject, and other issues.
You have talked about “too little Europe” as the cause of the current crisis, meaning the lack of development of a common economic policy and of a complete political integration. But how can we overcome this obstacle if Germany – the most authoritative partner – does not want to?
“It is the decisive match of the future. A defeat would mean the failure of the European project. In short, a nightmare. To thwart it, we must act on two levels. One, obviously, is the political-diplomatic level. It is important that countries like Italy put much more pressure on Germany to make it use its hegemony finally in favor of the European community, not against it. It is a difficult path full of hidden dangers, where Brussels is only one of the actors involved and which is burdened by historical reflections, opposing national interests, and by a certain laziness of the European leaders to discuss the status quo. The other level is purely political. The constructive Europeanism lacks the strength of the dialectical method, I would say that it even lacks the ideal ruthlessness, that characterizes populists and anti-Europeans. We are not putting enough pressure on the need to change Europe in order to build a stronger one, more united and resistant. We are not putting effort into the project. We are not quite convincing in repeating to all, firstly to Germany, that without Europe nobody is safe. We are not working, as we should, on a Europeanisation of political parties that would transform them in real engines of change.”
When the issue is the single European currency, inevitably we think about the grief of certain countries, such as Greece. The question is a little bit provocative: which policy can be effective if it is the raw material that is lacking, that is money? Basically, how do you save Greece – or any other country – if the state treasury has no more money?
“There is an obvious combination of responsibilities in Greece. On the one hand, the responsibility of the Greek political class, the past one but also this one is worrisome. On the other, the responsibility of Europe, that has dissipated resources and years before finding the tools that could help prevent what is happening in Athens. Today the risk of the Grexit operation is still high. It would be a disaster for everyone, with devastating consequences, both financial and ideal. It is certain that the Greeks cannot blow up the principle that wants the debts to be paid, but they must also participate to the launch of the internal reforms that would be necessary. Nevertheless, Europe – Germany in particular – has to find the strength to accept a compromise and to make a mea culpa for the austerity of the past. It no longer works and has to be changed.”
What do you think about the Russian availability – often mentioned by Putin – just about Greece? Is it a strategy, which echoes his intention of controlling energy?
“This subject is very thorny and not really understood by the West. Greece is just one of pieces of the puzzle. Also energy is one of the pieces of this far more articulated strategy. On this matter I absolutely agree with the position of Romano Prodi: no demonization, no closure in advance, no reduction when you go beyond the limits.”
The international arena is made up of different theaters of war. In this scenario, today the most concerning risk is that of the so-called religious wars. What do you think about it?
“I think that we must not fall into the trap. It is neither a question of clash of civilizations, nor of religious wars. It is just – roughly – a question of power. Talking about religion (or ethnicity, as unfortunately happens even in forgotten contexts) is nothing more than an alibi, a very effective glue to mobilize masses of people and billions of dollars.”
How can Europe defend its main values (liberty, equality, fraternity, to use the French motto) from the pressure that other realities – with different principles but with economic and financial bases much more solid – are trying to put on the Old Continent?
“Europe can survive without losing its identity only questioning itself. First of all, as a model of democracy. The crisis has wiped out the certainties that gave us about sixty years of welfare and peace. Now this scheme has eroded and to make it prosperous again Europe can only aim high. “When in trouble, go big”, the Americans say. So, the approach must be the same: the more things seem complicated, the greater must be the impetus to reach ambitious goals. And nothing is more ambitious than the United States of Europe. To realize this project, we need all the pragmatism we are able to use. We must start immediately, accelerating as much as possible the economic and political integration of the euro area, and gather bit by bit forms of less involvement for the most reluctant countries, like the UK.”
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo