Former Italian president, prime minister and central bank governor Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who played a key role in guiding the country into the European single currency, has died at the age of 95, the government said on Friday.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi praised Ciampi as a man who had worked tirelessly for Italy and served the country with passion.
Ciampi, who had been ill for some time, helped steer Italy through the dark days of corruption scandals in the 1990s and was considered one of the founders of the euro currency.
“One of our fathers has left us. If Italy is (still) a great country then we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Ciampi,” former prime minister Enrico Letta wrote on Twitter.
Ciampi spent most of his working life at the Bank of Italy, which he joined in 1946 after World War Two and headed for 14 years. He wrestled the bank free of political control, winning leeway to set interest rates and exchange rate policy.
He was prime minister from 1993 to 1994 and president from 1999 to 2006.
While Ciampi held the country’s top two jobs, it was as treasury minister between 1996 and 1999 that he will probably be best remembered abroad.
Overcoming massive doubts about the financial fitness of heavily indebted Italy, the calm, confident Ciampi went on a charm offensive amongst Italy’s EU partners to get good terms for Rome to join the euro project.