Quirinale Palace 14/12/2015
His Excellency the Dean,
Chairs of Parliamentary Committees,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Dean for the kind words and wishes he addressed on behalf of the whole Diplomatic Corps to Italy, the Italian people and myself. I warmly and cordially reciprocate these wishes on this, my first such meeting with the Ambassadors here present.
Looking back over the events of the year that is about to draw to a close can help us identify ways to face the significant challenges ahead.
History shows us that destructive spirals can be interrupted and that positive paths of a shared destiny for humanity can be embarked upon instead.
This was the case with the establishment of the United Nations, which celebrates its 70th anniversary and which Italy is proud to have been a member of for the past 60 years. This was also the case with the launch of the process to build a united Europe. And it is the case for the important creation of regional organisations that cooperate in many parts of the world.
Today more than ever it is essential to identify the deep-rooted causes underlying serious threats to the very principles of life, without resorting to restrictive, simplistic views.
I truly hope that our shared reflections can constitute the starting point from which to tackle the problems and issues before us, so that we can try to find solutions.
The achievements of civilisation, the freedom to choose how to live our lives, the interdependence that characterises our societies, have all been sorely tested.
One month ago terrorism wounded us all, striking again in Europe, Paris, as it had done in Madrid, Copenaghen, London, Brussels and, elsewhere in the world, in Tunis, Nigeria, San Bernardino, Bamako, Ankara, Beirut, Cairo, Sydney. And sadly the list should be even longer - suffice to think of the attack on the Russian passenger plane that precipitated in the Sinai desert.
None of us intend to give in to fear: much of the international community, including Europe, is responding firmly to combat the scourge of terrorism and assert the values on which to build peace - values without which peace risks being lost.
The fight against terrorism must be faced wherever fundamentalist intolerance manifests itself. We must act to isolate the seeds of violence in our streets, in our squares, in our homes, in our schools, in our universities, in our theatres, in our places of worship.
We can face this issue, first and foremost, by preserving our way of life. As far as we are concerned, limiting freedom would amount to giving in to terrorism and betraying the principles of democracy and tolerance that constitute the very basis of our social contract; principles that result from political, economic and cultural achievements that are an integral part of our identity.
We will defend our principles without hestitation.
We know that the most effective tool, and the one able to guarantee peace and tolerance in the long-term, is culture and dialogue.
That same culture that over the centuries led us to identify the tenets of our national and international actions: the rejection of war as a means of conflict resolution, the protection of equality, freedom, dignity and rights of individuals and communities, multilateralism and the cooperation among peoples.
We must firstly dismantle the cultural and moral foundations of violent fundamentalism and reiterate the reasons for defending humanity.
Today more than ever we need dialogue, particularly inter-religious dialogue, to refute the supposed - and thoroughly mistaken - inevitability of a "clash of civilisations".
The positive aspects of this approach should guide us in facing another pressing and dramatic emergency: that of migration, exacerbated by the marked instability that has for years afflicted the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
The debate on this issue has at times fallen victim to dogmatic and superficial standpoints that see this phenomenon reduced to a question of complete closure or opening of borders. Both of these alternatives are based on a flawed representation of reality. The European Union's latest decisions on this issue are a step in the right direction; they seek to defend Schengen by heightening cooperation among institutions on security, sharing an increasing amount of sensitive information, and strengthening and standardising border controls on our shared external borders.
Closing the door to "these masses of human beings", as the Dean described them, fleeing war, hunger and oppression, is tantamount to destroying hard-won civil and social achievements.
Italy has always firmly rejected any logic of exclusion.
Our history and our geographical position lead us to observe with increasing concern - and an increasing sense of responsibility - the dizzying surge of migration flow in the Mediterranean.
A sea which has all too often in recent years been transformed from the cradle of civilisation to a chasm that swallows up men, women and children along with their hopes, aspirations and dreams.
I am proud to say that Italy was quick to raise this serious issue before the European Union and the international community. We urged our partners to act with speed, decisiveness and shared intent, without compromising the need to maintain and disseminate a highly humane approach.
No natural or artificial barrier can isolate us from what is happening beyond our borders and beyond the borders of our neighbours. European migration is a reality that is deeply rooted in the African continent and the instability that characterises the Middle East.
The inevitable need for long-term and committed European action was also expressed at La Valletta, where the first Summit between the European Union and African countries parties to the Khartoum and Rabat processes took place. This constitutes a first, important step towards what we hope will become increasingly structured and in-depth collaboration.
Our country will continue to cooperate in order to create the conditions for peace and stability in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the African continent. This was the guiding thread to the Italy-Africa Initiative and the Mediterranean Conference organised a few days ago by the Italian Foreign Ministry here in Rome.
Italy has highlighted the need to look more broadly at security issues with other EU member states, its European neighbours and Atlantic partners. We must provide citizens with an increasingly efficient protection network to combat violence and terror. But we must recognise that security must be implemented through committed, diligent and long-term actions.
All countries must have the chance to enjoy peace and stability, and pursue the path of progress. All must have the freedom to choose their leaders and eliminate injustice, persecution, poverty and corruption.
The prosperity, progress and security of each and every one of us is inextricably linked to that of others.
The European Union, for its part, can encourage the necessary convergences in the crisis areas that surround it, identifying solutions that strongly and effectively combat the forces of disorder and terror.
It is hard to deny that the project of European integration is currently facing one of the most complex and contradictory moments in its history.
Fuelled by the dissatisfaction caused by the economic crisis, the growing instability on its borders and fears for security, movements questioning the path followed until now have gained ground, blaming it for growing social unrest and uncertainty in the face of chronic crises and the tumultuous events of the past few months.
The construction of Europe has come far in its desire to one day achieve its aim of federalism, introducing a single currency, opening up internal borders, overcoming old and established barriers. But the economic crisis and the migration crisis have shown that this structure is still incomplete.
It is precisely due to this "incomplete structure" that the European Union has at times shown itself to be unable to intercept and respond to the needs of its citizens.
A new, forward-looking effort is needed to provide the EU with structures that, whilst respecting the specificity of each Member State, can contribute to governing the global phenomena emerging in the world.
We must abandon the logic of emergency solutions, and instead embrace the long-term strategic vision that the European Union has often shown in the past.
Europe's leaders must take on this responsibility, helping the younger generation to fully understand and appreciate the European project.
A Europe that is cut off from reality and seen primarily as an aloof mix of regulations and procedures will not be able to win over the energy and engagement of our youth.
Europe needs to regain the consensus that has ebbed over the years, giving citizens more space to participate in political debate; a wide-ranging debate, no longer confined to the restricted spaces of national politics, but rather representative of the European démos that almost 70 years of increasingly shared life have helped create.
On the current world stage, despite the difficulties of a crisis that is also affecting new players, there remain many reasons to feel encouraged.
Italy has attentively followed key issues and offered a tangible contribution in the fight against poverty and climate change.
The Milan Exhibition provided an important opportunity to show that the international community can reflect effectively on how to tackle the problems afflicting humanity. Feeding the planet without excluding anyone is not only necessary, but is now also possible. A fairer, more sustainable handling of resources is an achievable goal.
The outcomes of the Paris Conference on climate change, in which our country worked as part of the European Union to obtain a valid agreement, further demonstrate the potential of renewed cooperation among states for the greater good of the whole planet.
It is an inescapable responsibility that we all have and that we all feel, particularly towards future generations.
It is an undertaking that requires constant commitment, and your daily work, often discreet and always steadfast, represents a fundamental part of this.
In relation to Iran, the responsible involvement of key international players has allowed for substantial progress to be made and has marked the beginning of a new, promising phase.
In Africa, racked by intense instability, there are countries which, recently too, have shown they are able to emerge from complex crises and consolidate regional cooperation.
In Libya, the internal agreement reached and the work of many international players have achieved important results, as confirmed by the ministerial meeting held yesterday in Rome. We hope that these will soon lead to the conclusion and subsequent rapid implementation of the agreement among the various groups that make up the complex "web" of Libyan society, given that it is Libyans themselves who must be responsible for their choices.
Recent developments in Latin America - with a significant reduction in old ideological tensions - allow us to envisage new opportunities for internal cooperation and a move toward a more authentic and desirable continental dimension.
The Minsk agreements seem to have de-escalated the crisis between Russia and Ukraine: their timely and necessary implementation will contribute substantially to easing tensions in Central and Eastern Europe.
In an objectively difficult situation where obstacles remain, the Russian Federation is showing a renewed desire to collaborate on important matters such as stabilising Syria and fighting fundamentalist terrorism.
I hope that, with a view to these goals being achieved, the tensions that characterised the relationship between Moscow and Ankara can be assuaged, the latter representing an important player in the Mediterranean Region and the Middle East.
Italy and the European Union are working, and will work, to this end, and we believe in the importance of renewed discussions between the European Union and Turkey. A spirit of dialogue and collaboration seem to increasingly prevail in the area of the Western Balkans. Italy has always believed - and has clearly affirmed - that we must continue to work tenaciously to create the necessary conditions for these countries to envisage the possibility of future European integration.
In the Asian continent, there are positive indicators of increasingly successful regional integration. These processes could help iron out certain tensions that have emerged in the area, in full compliance with international law.
It is undoubtedly excessive to think of definitive turning points in such complex scenarios. I do believe, however, that the developments I have just referred to show how 21st Century diplomacy can obtain important results when it acts with effectively measured pragmatism and strategic vision.
Responsible and constructive collaboration with members of the international community is one of the points of reference of our constitutional system.
Our country is actively involved in the European integration project, and we wholeheartedly support the deep-rooted and still relevant reasons underpinning our transatlantic relationship, which we still feel as closely connected to as ever. In our foreign policy, we continue to tenaciously champion the multilateralism that has allowed mutual understanding and cooperation to flourish, consolidating peace.
The fruits of 70 years of peace, democracy, freedom and economic and social progress in our country have been accompanied by constant efforts to uphold and defend these principles wherever these seem threatened. This is confirmed by the widespread presence of our soldiers, who guard these values wherever the international community has asked for our contribution.
Italy's diplomatic efforts - thanks also to the Foreign Ministry's skills and actions - have accompanied our substantial presence in peacekeeping missions, and provided universally appreciated civilian and military support.
The globalised world poses new challenges to the international community. Growing interdependence does not rule out the importance of nation states, but it has modified their roles and responsibilities. They are first and foremost responsible for the competent, constructive management of sovereignty, at all levels in which it is manifested or to which it has been freely transferred.
With this in mind, I would like to thank you for your hard work, which is so valuable in enriching the relationships between our peoples. I wish you, your families and the states you represent a peaceful Christmas and a fruitful new year.