Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte joined Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he spoke about how the coronavirus has impacted his country. Conte said Italy's "response has not been perfect" to the outbreak and now people "are suffering."
He also said the pandemic is a "watershed" moment for the future of the European Union, which has largely left member countries to handle the crisis on their own.
"We are not writing a handbook of economics. We are writing a book of history," Conte said he told leaders of other E.U. countries.
"We also need a sustained economy recovery at a global level because COVID-19 is a global enemy and we will defeat it only through coordinated, bold, united political global response by all world countries," Conte said.
CHUCK TODD: Let me simply start by asking how you and your citizens and your own loved ones are handling all this? This has been a very trying time. I know you just lost a bodyguard to this deadly virus.
PM GIUSEPPE CONTE: Unfortunately, unfortunately, it was terrible news. But let me say one thing first. We are suffering very much. More than 15,000 Italian lives lost to their dear ones, to our society, to our nation. It’s a devastating pain, and in these difficult times I can openly say that American President Trump once more has proven to be Italy's true and loyal friend. I want to thank President Trump who immediately made us feel his support, his presence, and I am very grateful to American people for this. About, about what today is known today as the Italian model, I can say, first of all, since the very beginning of the Italian pandemic, Italy has put public health first and for this reason, we have adopted very strict measures, that you mentioned, and adjusted them to the evolution of the infection. Second, the political choices must be based on scientific evidence. Third, third, it is crucial to implement decisions with full transparency. Our liberal democracy are built on the contract that we have with our own people. And we owe to them truth and transparency in the same way we are to provide them with safety and security. This is the Italian model...
CHUCK TODD: It sounds like -- there was a story in the New York Times today that if -- with testing that you're hoping in your country that in order to reopen parts of the economy and reopening parts of the country, that you might be able to have, "Okay, if you have the antibody to the virus, you can work. And if you don't, you have to stay home." Do you think that is in Italy's future?
PRIME MINISTER GIUSEPPE CONTE: We will work for that. But in this moment, we are all in the same battle. We are fighting the same powerful and invisible enemy. All countries in the world are hit, and we are all in front line. If an outburst withdraws, the virus will spread again and our efforts and sacrifice would be in vain. For this reason, it's crucial the cohesion and cooperation of our democracies and strategic international collaboration. And it's strategic also that all countries around the world should stop -- Italy strongly supports the appeal made by the secretary general of United Nations for a global ceasefire. It is time for all the parties in conflict, stop fighting each other and unite against an enemy which won't make a difference and will kill them all.
CHUCK TODD: Before this pandemic, you had expressed concerns about the future of the European Union. A lot of rise of nationalistic leaders within Europe. In the midst of this pandemic, there are people even more concerned about the future of the EU. Are you worried that more borders are going to go up and more -- every country looking out for themselves, more so than Europe? Are you worried about a future for Europe like that?
PRIME MINISTER GIUSEPPE CONTE: We are facing an unprecedented challenge. This year will be a watershed for the future of the European Union. We are not writing -- I said to my colleagues, the other leaders of the European Union, "We are not writing a handbook of economics. We are writing a book of history." We have to be grateful, of course, to all our doctors. We have to share information to our staff in hospitals. We have to work with them and to be grateful for their own efforts. As the Italian government, I invite all its European partners to approve a European recovery and reinvestment plan. It's an ambitious common plan to rebuild the European economy to be financed through European recovery bonds. And we also need a sustained economy recovery at a global level because COVID-19 is a global enemy and we will defeat it only through coordinated bold, united political global response by all world countries.