Populism stems from economic woes says Renzi

Italy premier blasts 'dangerous language of hatred, fear'

Populism stems from economic woes says Renzi

Rome, October 19 - Populism stems from economic woes not from fear, Premier Matteo Renzi told students at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC on Wednesday. "Populism lurks within the economic crisis - it's not born from the fear of terrorism," the Italian premier said. "We must act quickly to bring about change" in the fight against populisms of various stripes, "which play on fear while we play on hope". "Compared to many European leaders, I have different ideas on migration and security," Renzi went on. "Of course we must combat terrorism - we're trying to free (the Iraqi city of) Mosul (from occupation by the so-called Islamic State terrorist group) - but I think a military response is not enough," the premier said. "We also need a cultural response - in schools, in the cultural realm, in theaters, because the terrorists come from our suburbs, our cities". Renzi went on to say that the European Union pays lip service to Italy's migrant policy but doesn't open its doors to asylum seekers. "(The EU) is unable to face the immigration crisis," he said. "Italy gets a lot of congratulations on its strategy - they open their mouths but not their doors". "In a lot of countries, politicians choose fear and hatred," he said. "The message is not one of hope but becomes one of fear, of verbal abuse". Fomenting such negative emotions is dangerous because it could alter "the identity of democracy", Renzi warned, adding that universities is where future generations are being forged and given the skills and tools with which to "combat fear". The EU will only stay strong if it focuses on the future not the past, Renzi went on. "If it stays the way it is now, (the EU) will be weaker than other institutions and other countries," he said. "The EU was in shock over the Brexit, but that ended very quickly. I proposed building a different idea of Europe,(based on) thinking about the new generations. They said 'yes, yes' and three months later they were still talking about the timing of the Brexit - which is important for the UK but not for the EU," the Italian premier said. "What's important for the EU is for it understand its own future. Where is the future of the EU? In the next 10 minutes, the Schiaparelli lander will be the first European mission on Mars - a mission led by Italy (and) the symbol of a vision for the future," Renzi said.

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