Sofia, May 17 (IANS/AKI) European Union leaders are watching Italy - until now a solid partner on the international stage which must play an ever-greater role in Europe post-Brexit, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Thursday.

"The attention of Europe's leaders is focused on Italy," Gentiloni said at an EU-Western Balkans summit in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

Italian fiscal policy since the eurozone sovereign debt crisis has burnished Italy's image in the EU, he argued.

"The whole of the bloc recognises that Italy's economy is stronger and that we are a credible partner, besides one of the major EU countries in the wake of Britain's exit," Gentiloni said.

"This is why, at a time when Europe's future is very much under discussion and there are diverging visions of the future, there is a huge need for our country to play a leading role," he said.

A new eurosceptic government between the populist Five-Star Movement and League parties that is poised to be formally confirmed in the next few days could trigger a Greek-style crisis in Italy - the eurozone's third-largest economy - according to some analysts.

--IANS/AKI

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