Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Italy minister: Chemical weapons 'tragic mistake'

By CNN wires
September 9, 2013 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Italian Finance Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni told CNN that Italy "firmly" condemns the use of chemical weapons
  • Saccomanni's comments come as members of U.S. Congress are due to debate support for military action
  • U.S. President Barack Obama says he has "high confidence" that the regime is to blame for the use of chemical weapons
  • Saccomanni also said he hoped the fragile coalition government did not fall

Editor's note: Watch the full interview with Italian Finance Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni on Marketplace Europe on Thursday September 12 at 14:45 p.m. ET and 18:45 GMT. You can also see CNN's Wolf Blitzer report on his interview with U.S. President Barack Obama on The Situation Room at 18:00 p.m. ET, 10:00 p.m. GMT.

(CNN) -- The use of chemical weapons in Syria is a "tragic mistake" but Italy will only participate in military action with the approval of the United Nations Security Council, according to the country's finance minister.

Fabrizio Saccomanni, a member of Italy's coalition government under Prime Minister Enrico Letta, told CNN that Italy "firmly" condemns the use of chemical weapons on Syrian civilians.

Referring to a possible U.S.-led military strike on Syria, he said: "That doesn't mean that we will oppose other types of action by other countries, but we think it is important to continue to cooperate."

Saccomanni's comments come as members of U.S. Congress are due to debate support for military action in Syria. President Barack Obama says the U.S. has "high confidence" that Syria used chemical weapons - the strongest position the U.S. can take short of confirmation.

Britain, France, and Germany have said their intelligence backs up the same conclusion although elsewhere, doubts remain.

Congress gets to work on Syria

Saccomanni added: "There is... continuous attention also to the humanitarian aspects of the crisis and I think Italy, like other countries, has committed humanitarian funds and aid to Syria."

Pope Francis's vigil for peace in Syria

Italy's economic pain

Saccomanni was speaking to CNN amid fears Italy's coalition government could collapse following the sentencing of former Prime Minister and coalition partner Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud.

Berlusconi -- leader of the center-right party The People of Freedom -- is facing a four-year sentence and there are fears this could destabilize an already fragile government.

Asked if the coalition could fail, Saccomanni said: "I hope it doesn't." Saccomanni added: "It is a possibility, but the probability of it happening is decreasing day by day."

The country is also struggling with spiraling unemployment and a high national debt, resulting in a deep recession.

But following a spate of positive data out of the eurozone, Saccomanni, formerly the Bank of Italy's deputy governor, expects the country's economic prospects to improve next year.

He said that Italy's new coalition government is ready to restart investment in infrastructure projects and energy efficient technologies to put the eurozone's third-largest economy back on the path to growth.

Saccomanni blamed the lack of training for young people, in subjects such as computer science, and Italy's insufficient investment in new technologies as the reason for the country's lack of competitiveness.

CNN's Isa Soares and Oliver Joy contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Marketplace Europe
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1631 GMT (0031 HKT)
Marketplace Europe visits Latvia to see how the Baltic country has made its transition to the Euro from the Lat.
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
CNN's Nina Dos Santos visits Latvia to speak to the country's outgoing Prime Minister and the prospects for the eurozone's 18th member.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 1640 GMT (0040 HKT)
Malta is the gateway to Europe and on the frontline of the immigration flows. Isa Soares reports from a detention center on the Mediterranean island.
January 2, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
CNN's Isa Soares speaks with people on the streets of Valletta who say their country can't cope with more migrants from Africa and the Middle East.
January 9, 2014 -- Updated 1006 GMT (1806 HKT)
Malta cannot afford to continue supporting migrants from war-torn countries in its over-crowded detention camps, the country's foreign minister has told CNN.
December 26, 2013 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
Slow recoveries, bailouts, and youth unemployment. Richard Quest speaks to Europe's top CEOs about the issues of 2013.
December 26, 2013 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to economist Bob Parker about defining moments of 2013 and about what to expect in 2014.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Estonia is setting the pace for other European nations with a thriving economy and its tech industry, according to the Baltic nation's leader.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
The Baltic nation of Estonia is developing its oil shale energy reserves in a bid to become energy self-sufficient.
November 29, 2013 -- Updated 0925 GMT (1725 HKT)
Europe must stop being nationalistic if it wants to help a lost generation of workers, the regional boss of U.S. conglomerate General Electric says.
November 14, 2013 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Peer at the windows and you'll spot big colorful chairs, plastic plants and a huge bed, but this is no department store.
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 1006 GMT (1806 HKT)
There once was a time, many years ago, when the sounds of bagpipes struck fear into the stomachs of Englishmen.
November 11, 2013 -- Updated 1116 GMT (1916 HKT)
Greece is on the way to economic recovery as investor faith returns to the recession-ridden eurozone nation, an executive at Greece's largest bank has told CNN.
November 8, 2013 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Could Greece's famous spice help the country's farmers through a four-year long economic crisis.
November 1, 2013 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
One of the masterminds behind the euro says Europe would have suffered a far worse fate if the single currency had never been created.
October 31, 2013 -- Updated 1741 GMT (0141 HKT)
Nina Dos Santos visits the Dutch city where the European treaty carrying the city's name came into force 20 years ago.
October 25, 2013 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
As Spain continues its drive to slash budgets and cut spending, one of the nation's favorite pastimes is under threat as ministers look for ways to boost productivity.
October 24, 2013 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
The high commissioner of Brand Spain talks about getting the country back on its fee and attracting business.
ADVERTISEMENT