Mr Speaker of the Senate,
Madam Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies,
Mr Minister Gentiloni,
Madam High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs,
Mesdames and Messrs Undersecretaries,
Mesdames and Messrs Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to first of all thank the Foreign Minister for the warm welcome and for the kind invitation extended to me to open the 9th Conference of Ambassadors which, also for me, is the first I attend in my new role.
I am very happy of this opportunity because it allows me - through the Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry and Mesdames and Messrs Ambassadors present here today - to address a greeting and a message of appreciation to the whole diplomatic and consular network, whose work is acquiring growing importance for the image of the Country, for orienting its political and economic relations and for the social and cultural spinoffs in a world that is increasingly inter-dependent, by facilitating and following up direct relations between Heads of State, of governments and of the ministers of foreign affairs.
Also during the first few months in office I was able to note the professionalism and dedication with which the Foreign Ministry personnel perform their duties, at times at risk of their personal security, as in the case of the recent attack on the Italian Consular Chancery in Cairo or during the prolonged period of time in which our Embassy was the only one to meritoriously remain open in Tripoli. A personnel that is often called upon to solve extremely delicate human and security affairs, such as, for example the kidnapping of fellow citizens in areas of crisis, the last of which took place in Libya a week ago.
In this respect, allow me to reiterate, on behalf of us all, our commitment to free and return to their loving families the four Italian engineers kidnapped: Filippo Calcagno, Salvatore Failla, Fausto Piano and Gino Pollicardo. Italy's commitment remains utmost also in the case of Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, who was abducted in Syria in July 2013.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Representing Italy abroad is a mission now made all the more demanding by the multifarious matters of uncertainty that characterise the international scenario.
From the threats posed by Daesh to the bloody terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia, Egypt, Kenia, Nigeria and elsewhere. From the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, which calls on Europe to be the agent of equilibrium, to the inflows of refugees and migrants coming from Africa and the Middle East, to which Europe not always succeeds to respond commensurately to its level of civilisation. From the conflicts in Syria and Iraq to the collapse of institutions in Libya and Yemen, to the instability in the Horn of Africa and in the Sub-Saharan area, we find ourselves operating in a global scenario in which forces of "unrest" play an alarmingly weighty role, causing serious prejudice to the respect for the individual and human rights of minorities, and considerably deteriorate the value of the centrality of human individuals, which remains the reason and cornerstone of internal and international law.
These serious factors of crisis accompany the geopolitical changes that followed the end of a bipolar world, along with the great redistribution of resources, powers and influences that also result from the globalisation of markets and finance. What is going on in Baghdad, in Nigeria, or in the Mediterranean, is not extraneous to these epochal changes, nor is it unrelated to poverty or the new forms of marginalisation created by our times.
But this is precisely the reason why it is unacceptable to take the resigned and fatalistic attitude that sometimes prevails in multilateral institutions, governments and public opinion, in the face of a massacre, an ethnic cleansing and repression for religious reasons. We cannot surrender to powerlessness, to a political and moral aloofness that risks classifying as "normal" and "unavoidable" facts that are dramatic and instead require an adequate moral and political response.
We need to raise our glance and look beyond the contingency. We need ideals and strategic vision, capable of attracting and gaining the consensus of States and civil societies, if we do not want international relations, in addition to economic and social order, to be exclusively determined by sometimes unregulated market drives, counterbalanced not by law or policy but by fanaticisms, with all their disruptive potential.
To build a new world order, basing it on principles respectful of human individuals and communities, is a painstaking job that requires knowing the reality, as well as the adoption of forward-looking policies.
Each and every one of you is called upon to contribute to this effort with more information, analysis and elaboration. Your expertise and wisdom are precious and so is your capacity to read into and interpret global events with updated instruments and informed independent judgment.
At the same time it is the duty of all of us - as suggests the topic of this Conference, "Diplomacy for Italy" - to redefine and constantly update the profile of our national interests and, therefore, our Country's mission.
Sixty years ago, in 1955, Italy was admitted to the United Nations, thus consolidating the vocation for peace and multilateralism enshrined in our republican Constitution. Today this vocation is confirmed by Italy's candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the biennium 2017-18.
It is especially in the new Europe that Italy has found affirmation of its authentic sovereignty: a safe harbour but above all a place from which to start anew in tackling global challenges together, as Europeans.
During the years of the Republic, Italy never proved to be prey of narrow and misunderstood individual interests and acted consistently with the decisions underlying its foreign policy, whose lines, we are happy to acknowledge, are supported by broad parliamentary consensus.
Italy is a Country committed to the respect of human rights and the pursuit of peace, stability, security and economic and social development, as is proven by our participation in major international missions: in the Balkans, in Lebanon or in Afghanistan.
Still now dialogue and cooperation - at bilateral level, within the EU, UN and NATO - is the driving force of our foreign policy and of our presence in supranational organisations.
In this respect, I would like to address a special thanks to Federica Mogherini who, in her role of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, actively participated in achieving the Vienna agreement.
After long and painstaking negotiations, a historical agreement was reached on Iran's nuclear programme. We will persist in our commitment - asking all the main actors therein to do the same - to further enforce the terms of the agreement and to help the detente process produce positive effects throughout the Middle East. We must promptly put back on the agenda the crucial issue of fully and irreversibly recognising Israel's right to security and the Palestinian State's right to exist.
The European Union, as is well known, is not an inter-governmental organisation: through it our and other European people have chosen the road to integration on the basis of the values of liberty, democracy and peace. This is why Europe is an ideal, a feat of history.
It is the only future dimension in which we Europeans will be able to participate in a globalised world with honour and distinction.
Also for this reason we deem the Brussels agreement to be positive, as it avoided Greece's exit from the euro and its financial bankruptcy. However, we cannot hide feeling the weakening of the bonds of solidarity that was dramatically revealed during the past few weeks; bonds that are instead essential to uphold the political and legal fabric of the Union.
We cannot hide it also because this feeling is now widespread among European citizens, who perceive its reduced capacity to plan for the future and its difficulty in generating socially balanced and inclusive development.
We must free Europe from the grips of national egoisms and populist sentiments, these too being almost exclusively confined within national borders. The Union runs the risk of being "inward-looking", as President Napolitano defined it in a similar meeting, exclusively focusing on internal problems, without concentrating its attention on its global role and external challenges.
We - unlike others - say that the European project is stalling and has long been in need of being revived. We want Europe to be revitalised, thus enabling it to meet global challenges. In order to achieve this we need courage, responsibility and the force of innovation. We need a broader vision, beyond what are claimed to be contingent interests.
We need a strong sense of equity. Democracy is not historically separable from its social dimension. The fabric of the Union will be strengthened - giving monetary union the necessary projection into a political union - if the concrete decisions of governments and European organisations target development, investments and jobs, as the Italian Government urged during the semester of presidency of the European Council. It will only result to be stronger if territorial and social distances are narrowed instead of widened, only if a spirit of cooperation and solidarity prevails in managing economic policies instead of arguing over whether Countries should presumably be ranked as Tier 1 or Tier 2.
To a certain extent, the atmosphere perceived at this time calls back to mind the atmosphere that existed after the failure of the European Defence Community in 1954. It was precisely in response to that crisis that the European ideal was relaunched in 1955, in the Messina Conference, and realised with the Treaty of Rome two years later. Difficulties can be transformed into a reason to move forward.
The last-minute compromise reached on Greece, which is the paradigm of Europe's emergency-based logic, can turn out be beneficial if it leverages Europe out of this emergency, redesigning a new euro governance system as an effective system, adequate and democratic, to regulate the single currency.
President Mario Draghi opportunely observed that the progress made during the last few months in terms of greater integration are important but still not in line with the "long-term needs associated with being members of a Monetary Union".
Now, in addition to common rules, we should also promptly set up common institutions in order to avoid remaining in the middle of an unfinished construction, which would expose us to a high risk of slipping back on our steps.
"More Europe" is a goal that belongs to the category of big strategic decisions, those that now appear difficult and unpopular, but that open new horizons of development. Italy aims to achieve this goal.
Europe is an inalienable part of our national identify also because - it is sometimes necessary to recall - Europe lies on the Mediterranean. "The whole of Europe is in the Mediterranean", said Aldo Moro when he was Foreign Minister. It is in the Mediterranean that Europe can perform a leading role as a global player, promoter and builder of peace, seizing all the development cooperation opportunities and, at the same time, open a season of inter-cultural and inter-religious cooperation and dialogue. Cohabitation, liberty and fairer development perspectives constitute, at this point in history, the crossroads of world peace. It is an extraordinary challenge which civil society and European States, with their legal orders, cannot shy away from.
Within this context, dialogue and cooperation with the Balkans acquire an even greater relevance. The full integration into the European Union of the Western Balkans remains a strategic objective to which our Country feels committed and hopes that negotiations will soon be opened and carried forward within the necessary timeframe but keeping in mind the certainty of their outcome.
The challenge that we now face compels us to treat humanely and wisely the issue of migration and the drama of refugees fleeing from wars, persecutions and absolute poverty.
The despair engraved on the faces of these people - often young and even children - who risk death on ramshackle boats, the prey of ruthless human traffickers, interrogates our conscience and that of all of Europe.
The European Union - it is right to repeat - does less than it ought to and this attitude, which is culturally new in many aspects, is surprising. Being put to the test are the values on which Europe is founded, although at times fear and selfishness prevail over the responsibility of affirming the indivisibility of values such as liberty, democracy and solidarity.
The Union's decision to allocate, albeit on a voluntary basis, a quota of refugees is a first significant step which we welcome with satisfaction but that will be important only if followed up by other steps taken within the framework of a concerted action. We are talking about asylum seekers, not of simple migrants. The humanitarian nature of their reception cannot but necessarily prevail over any other consideration.
The issue of migration flows is different and undoubtedly more complex as they are almost always provoked by humanly unsustainable situations. Immigration policies require intelligence and vision: at stake are values, feelings of solidarity, but also economic and social equilibriums. To help those asking for help and rescue those who are drowning is either left in the hands of criminal organisations or is a basic, humanly non-delegable duty. Regulating migration flows requires articulate solutions, including cooperating with the Countries of origin and transit of migration flows and the need to fight traffickers.
European immigration policies should also aim at a certain level of uniformity. Integration is a factor of security. European policies, if coherent, could also be strong factors of security. It should not be forgotten that peace and dialogue with the Countries of origin will largely depend on how well Europe succeeds in integrating migrants, also by developing new citizenship options. Democracy, it has been proven, cannot be exported through the use of weapons. In order to affirm itself, democracy must rely on the force of persuasion following from its own example.
To offer welcome, to the best of one's possibilities, and help the Countries originating migration flows, also with a view to preventing them from becoming increasingly large and uncontrollable, is morally just and is also in the immediate and future interest of Europe.
After all, in a long-term perspective, it is also necessary to reconsider Europe's approach to Africa: this huge Continent can and will increasingly become a partner with which to cooperate and share strategies and responsibilities and not merely be the beneficiary of third parties' policies and aid.
The conference scheduled next November 11 and 12 in La Valletta uniting European Union Heads of state or government, representatives of the Khartoum and Rabat processes, and the Commission of the African Union and of the ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States), represents a useful and interesting formula to try to initiate a more effective course of action.
In the Mediterranean scenario, the stabilisation of Libya is certainly a priority issue for Italy, also with a view to avoiding terrorist groups from taking root on its territory - in addition to preventing the exploitation of migration flows by organised crime - and also, it must be said, to re-establish internal peace and security in a Country with which we traditionally have strong ties.
I know fully well that Italian diplomacy, together with the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Bernardino Leòn, is working at translating the recent negotiation processes into a final agreement setting forth the establishment of a national unity government.
It will nonetheless be opportune for the international community, and the European Union in particular, to get ready to guarantee the necessary support to the prospected new government. Its establishment, we must recall, would only be the point of departure of a commitment that will be predictably long, delicate and complex but unavoidable.
Around the Mediterranean looms the terrible challenge of Daesh, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the incubator and magnet of terrorism, conveyor of a barbarian conception that manipulates Islam for the sole purpose of obtaining power. Terrorism is the black hole of humanity. We would be in for bad times if we were to underestimate it, under any aspect, especially from the point of view of internal security. However, we must be very careful in conducting this battle in the right and most appropriate way.
In order to prevail it is essential to commit firmly and resolutely, without surrendering to emotional reactions and without giving up our values, and reject Islamophobic drives and the Clash of Civilisations narrative between the West and Islam.
The battle we must and are combating is political and cultural, even more than military, and it is against extremism and fanaticism, against those who instigate divisions, hatred and radicalism, especially among younger generations and among the marginalised fragments of society. What we need is not a war between civilisations but a "pact of civilisations", in order to rediscover the positive interaction between Islam and the West already recorded in history. An interaction that must be aimed at drying out the pools of hatred and at defining common development policies and principles, starting from fundamental human rights, and putting an end to the ethnic or religious persecution of Christian communities in the East.
Italy stands alongside Countries that, on the other shore of the Mediterranean are in the forefront in the fight against obscurantism and barbarism, to affirm the values of life against tyranny and death.
Also in the international fight against terrorism, the fulcrum remains the transatlantic relations between free Countries, which is the cornerstone of our foreign policy. In a world in which Asia and Latin America, to which we are bound by strong ties, have greatly increased their specific weight - and Italian diplomacy does well to strengthen relations with these Continents - the Atlantic community will only be capable of exercising a leadership role if the two shores remain united, maintain common values and act cooperatively; if they prove to be capable - which no doubt they are - of giving a common assessment of the international security threats facing them.
Moreover, the United States and the European Union have lying ahead a road filled with potential and also growth: the TTIP free trade agreement, which has taken lengthy negotiations and that we hope will soon be concluded with the necessary balance. To the European Institutions engaged in the negotiation goes all of our Country's attention and support.
Mesdames and Messrs Ambassadors,
Italy has a very important comparative advantage in developing its foreign policy. Our action can indeed leverage a truly unique "cultural power", grounded on history, art, beauty, creativity, taste and innovation; to put it in a word: the Italian lifestyle. "Made in Italy" products have a great potential, also economic, even if it is a soft power. From this point of view, Italy's diplomacy has long become an active instrument in promoting "Made in Italy" products, in close conjunction with the competent State administrations, as well as with companies and their subsidiaries, which have contributed to making our production system global.
One of the most important channels through which to disseminate our culture abroad, promote our products and our tourist destinations, remains the Italian language. Statistics show that the number of students studying Italian abroad is constantly increasing, to the point that, in 2014, our language was the fourth-most studied language in the world. And, with the "demand for Italian" grows also the "demand for Italy", which deserves to be fostered and to be the focus of assertive actions aimed at exploiting all the potential opportunities.
The Milan Exposition has enriched our image in the world. The theme chosen - Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life - has enabled us to address issues that are fundamental for the destiny of humankind and, at the same time, to indicate, together with others, the changes needed to favour the development of a food culture that might be more equitable and solidarity-based, as well as a new concept of development.
The Milan Charter is now offered as a contribution in drafting the Universal Development Agenda, which is aimed at upgrading the Millennium Goals.
Italy will not fail to contribute to the success of the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York next September and of the Paris Climate Conference in December.
Mesdames and Messrs Ambassadors,
Diplomacy is a precious resource for Italy. I am a staunch supporter of the institutional function that you perform on behalf of the whole Country in promoting its role, security, economy and culture.
Ours is a Country that is ready to protect its citizens and to invest in their future.
It is a Country, allow me to emphasise, which will continue to struggle, with determination, to keep Massimiliano Latorre in Italy and bring Salvatore Girone back home as soon as possible.
I wish you to continue serving the State and voice a message of confidence and hope for the future of Italy.
The values on which our Republic is founded are values of peace, humanity and social growth. They make us proud and we can disseminate them in the world holding our heads up high. Leaving all rhetoric aside, we know that Europe needs Italy, like the rest of the world.