July 18th, 2013

Italian P.M. Letta to Amanpour: “It’s really a shame, and I will continue to ask him to resign”

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta from London on Wednesday.  In a wide-ranging interview, Letta, who just recently was sworn in to his office on 28 April 2013, discussed his chief ministerial priorities, whether Italy would seek a bailout from the E.U., the state of Italian economic reforms, and his own headline-making personal austerity.

Letta also commented on the controversial racist description of one of his top ministers, Cécile Kyenge, made by one of Italy’s most prominent Senators, Roberto Calderoli, who said she resembled an orangutan and that her success in Italy encouraged illegal immigrants to come to Italy.  Integration Minister Kyenge is an Italian citizen who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Of this matter, Letta told Amanpour:

AMANPOUR:  Italy has a very prominent first black member, black cabinet member, and we were quite shocked to hear one of the senior Italian parliamentarians refer to her as an orangutan.  Should he be out of a job?  Is that the kind of person we want as a parliamentarian in Italy?

LETTA:  No, he has to go out from his job.  And I asked him to resign.  It was a shock for Italy and for, of course, all the public opinion.  You know my choice to ask Cécile Kyenge to be minister was a choice very clear for the country.  Italians has — they have to understand that the internal integration is one of the main issues for the future.  And the message was very clear.  Of course, there are today problems and I asked to this Member of Parliament to resign, is a shame, is really a shame.  And I will continue to ask him to resign.

AMANPOUR airs weekdays on CNN International at 3:00pm and 5:00pm Eastern.  The full transcript for this edition of the program may be found here.