Strongly endorsing European integration, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi has had a brush with a trio of ultra-Eurosceptic secessionists. His speech at the European Parliament was disrupted by three right-wing Italian deputies from the government coalition Northern League. Ciampi had praised the euro single currency, which they oppose. Ciampi helped prepare Italy to join the euro. The 84-year-old won a standing ovation after declaring he was confident that the EU was strong enough to withstand the referendum setbacks in France and the Netherlands (for the nascent European constitution). But he said that the constructive work of integration must be defended and nurtured. Two Northern League ministers recently called for the Italian lira to be restored alongside the euro, which they say has been a disaster for the country. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi quickly condamned the protest in Strasbourg.
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