ROME - The worst of the economic crisis is over and, while the situation remains fragile, there are growing signs of a recovery on the horizon, Italian economy minister Giulio Tremonti said in a newspaper interview on Saturday.

A series of indicators, if you like anecdotal, empirical, psychological, seem to be telling us that the collapse is coming to an end, Tremonti told the Milan daily Corriere della Sera. He said that thanks to the concerted intervention of governments since last autumn, there is no longer the risk of a global financial apocalypse.

Now I am not saying that the crisis is over but we have got past the phase of the potential breakdown of the system, the collapse of banks, of industries, of employment.

In Italy, he said an unprecedented decline in the use of postal services appeared to be over, the decline in road traffic and haulage had also come to an end and a fall in value added tax revenues was becoming less steep. Tremonti spoke after data on Friday showed Italy's economy shrank by 2.4 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months and by 5.9 percent from the same period of last year, the steepest contractions for at least 30 years. On industrial policy, Tremonti said the government had demanded guarantees from carmaker Fiat to preserve jobs in Italy, a decision he said was right and a road we shall follow.

(Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)