CAMBRIDGE — Europe must look inward to help deal with the threat posed by terrorism, Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said Thursday during a speech at Harvard University.
Renzi, a former mayor of Florence and member of Italy's Democratic party, is on a four-day U.S. visit that also took him to Chicago and Nevada. On Friday, he is scheduled to join other world leaders attending a global nuclear summit in Washington.
While making clear that he agreed with other European leaders on the need for military action, enhanced security and greater intelligence sharing, Renzi said those responses alone will not make Europe safer because of the threat within its own borders.
"Let me be very clear ... the terrorists who killed people in Paris or in Brussels didn't come from Syria, or from Libya, or from Tunisia, or from Afghanistan," Renzi told the audience at an event sponsored by Harvard's Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. "They grew up in Europe."
"The enemy is not only abroad. The enemy is within our cities," he said.
Europe can address this problem by investing not only in police and in security, he said, but in education, economic development and "in the humanistic model of cities in Europe."
Renzi, who took office in 2014, was the first incumbent Italian premier to speak at Harvard, according to a university official. He also visited an IBM research facility in Cambridge during his stop in Massachusetts.
Recent elections in Europe showed a hunger for change, he said, blaming the dissatisfaction in large part on misguided economic policies that relied too heavily on belt-tightening.
"My position is that European leaders have chosen the wrong direction in the economy. They decided to invest a lot in austerity, austerity, austerity, and they lost the opportunity to give hope to the new generation," he said.
The premier made clear during a question and answer session that he supports the candidacy of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton because he believed she was in the best position to "lead the free world in the correct direction." He said Italy was following the U.S. election with great attention and "curiosity," but added that his country would respect whatever the outcome was of the U.S. vote.