Netherlands' friendship with Italy not endangered by conflict over coronavirus aid: Italian PM

The relationship between Italy and the Netherlands has not deteriorated due to the lack of European support to save the Italian economy, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in an interview with the Telegraaf. "The friendship with the Dutch people remains in tact."

Northern EU Members States like the Netherlands and Germany are currently holding back a European emergency fund for dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Southern countries, including Italy, have been hit hard by the crisis and are desperate for this package. The Netherlands was recently criticized for its rejection fo the so-called coronabonds - bonds composed of government loans from all euro countries - that could be used to boost economies of countries in crisis.

Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance angered the southern countries by saying that countries must first pull out all the stops to get themselves out of the economic downturn. He later took back that statement, speaking to RTL Z on Tuesday. "I showed too little empathy," he said. But not before a number of prominent Italian politicians called te Netherlands "unethical" and denounced its lack of solidarity in an open letter.

There is a lack of understanding in Italy about the Dutch government's decision to oppose aid, Prime Minister Conte said to the Telegraaf. "Many Italians do not understand the opposition from the Dutch authorities to a strong, immediate, rigorous and effective response coordinated at a European level." But this is not anger, not directed at the Dutch people at least, he said.

He also gave the Telegraaf a message for Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. "Dear Mark, if correct answers are too late, they can be useless. We must avoid saying that we have finally found the therapy, but then discover that the patient is dead."

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