Wrong to compare Italy to Greece: German finance minister

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The German finance minister rejected on Monday any comparison between Italy and Greece, saying that market jitters over Rome's economic situation did not make sense.

"I am convinced that Italy is not in a comparable situation," Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels.

"Italy has announced measures that, if they are implemented, are adequate to ensure that the country regains the confidence of markets," Schaeuble said.

"The data on the real economy in Italy do no justify this nervousness," he added, after Rome's borrowing costs surged to a euro-era record high, raising fears the country may need a bailout.

Eurozone officials have piled pressure on Italy to prove its commitment to implement measures aimed at cutting the country's 1.9-trillion-euro debt mountain.

Greece is still under the gun too, with ministers urging a future national unity government to endorse a new eurozone debt rescue package that was agreed in late October to keep the country from going bankrupt.

Eurozone ministers are withholding eight billion euros in loans, the next installment of an existing 110-billion-euro bailout for Greece, until the country's authorities prove their commitment to reform.

"Greece must first guarantee that what was agreed will also be implemented," Schaeuble said, adding that the Greek conservative opposition must "commit without constraints."

© 2011 AFP

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