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Palermo an Anti-Mafia Role Model

February 25, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The anti-Mafia campaign that resulted in civic renewal in the Sicilian city of Palermo can serve as an example for countries such as Russia that are grappling with criminal elements, Mayor Leoluca Orlando said Thursday.

Sicily ``for a long time exported the disease of organized crime,″ Orlando said at the National Press Club. ``Now we are exporting the therapy.″

But he warned that while Italian authorities were winning a cultural battle against the Mafia, they were only beginning to confront its international financial clout, adding that the 11 nations that have adopted the euro as their currency must guard against the Mafia using it to move money around more easily.

``There has to be strong cooperation among political authorities, law enforcement officials, banks and the legal system to prevent this,″ Orlando said.

He was ending a 10-day trip to the United States that included an international anti-corruption conference hosted by Vice President Al Gore. He was also being honored by congressional leaders at a reception Thursday night.

Orlando said Palermo’s success in curbing the Mafia could serve as an example, ``not just for other cities but for many states that are not yet fully democratic or do not have free-market economies.″ He mentioned Russia and its former Soviet states as well as new democracies in eastern Europe.

Confronting the Mafia’s financial dealings ``is not an Italian battle or a European battle but an international one,″ he said.

Orlando was elected to his second term as mayor of Sicily’s capital last November with 58 percent of the vote. He was first appointed to head the city in 1985 and for four years led an anti-Mafia campaign that united thousands of associations, clubs and others against the criminal organization.

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