Rome - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation 24/07/2017
Madam President of the Chamber of Deputies,
Mr Foreign Minister of the French Republic,
Mr Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Honourable Members of Government and Chairs of Parliamentary Committees,
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank Minister Alfano and the Secretary General for their cordial welcome and for the invitation extended to me to open the twelfth Conference of Ambassadors, which this year marks the achievement of a particular goal: 50 years since the entrance of the first women in the diplomatic career.
The theme chosen for the Conference, "Security and Growth: Challenges for Italy and Europe" effectively summarises the delicate times lived by Europe and the situation of global equilibria in which Italy has to operate.
The contacts and meetings held in Italy and abroad in this period and the Country's phase of recovery, have led us to deem it necessary to make a careful reflection on Italy's basic foreign policy orientations.
At national level, after years of economic crisis and stagnation, thanks to a joint effort primarily based on the commitment and sacrifices of Italians, the Country recorded a gradual trend reversal which became stronger over time and has finally taken a steadier pace in the last few months.
It is now indispensable and urgent to achieve the objective of "steadying" this pace through a resolute "systemic" action to which diplomacy is called to make a contribution of great import.
The Country needs your energy to transmit and get across a clear message on the many, positive changes that have occurred in our Country, starting with the reform process that was started and is still ongoing, the measures adopted to make our banking system sounder, and the encouraging figures that we are recording in trade, which is proof of the value and of the steadfast vitality of the "Italian System".
However, a yet untapped potential still weighs down the Country's rate of employment, especially among the young. A positive thrust to economic growth, in Italy and abroad, is the natural solution to reduce unemployment.
The actions to promote Brand Italy, to which Italian diplomacy has long been committed, in addition to representing a strategic priority, also constitutes a specific duty to this effect.
Promoting Brand Italy is a complex effort; we could synthesise it with the slogan you all know well: from "Made in Italy" to "Made by Italy". The export of products and know-how and making corporate investments abroad find a natural source of momentum in the promotion of the Italian culture and lifestyle. Culture, in its many facets, and language, are the very effective instruments with which to build and consolidate sound and enduring relations between persons and peoples, to get to know each other better and to contribute to building friendships between nations, projecting, in our case, the best possible image of Italy in all contexts.
The themes of promoting Italy, its economic and social growth, the very definition of our identity, are indissolubly tied to our convinced support to multilateralism.
The need that it be up to the international community to assume the responsibility, identify collective goals and lay down rules to remove peoples from situations of conflict, remains unwaivable.
On our part, we have contributed to establishing and defining large aggregations, real communities like the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance.
It is within the framework of peace and security - even more than in the realm of growth, made possible by that very framework - outlined both internally and externally, that the Euro-Atlantic architecture constitutes an irreplaceable haven.
In particular, the great challenges lying before us can only be met through common action, thus enabling our Continent to make its voice heard at global level.
Multipolarism, the positive development that followed the Cold War, has made the world too complex for single Countries to be considered separately, also from this perspective.
From this perspective, the European dimension increasingly takes on the traits of "communities of fate", in which interdependence is the first parameter that needs to be acknowledged.
Today's world cannot be considered as an arena in which sovereignties are brandished like clubs in a brutal competition, in a logic of antagonism if not of outright conflict.
Problems have a dimension and nature that exceed the capacity of even the economically and militarily strongest Countries. In this sense, the anti-historical call for self-sufficiency is a shield that - if actually put to the test - would reveal to be as illusory as fragile.
The world is not a menu from which you can choose à la carte the things you like, pushing aside those that annoy you. These latter things will continue to break into our lives until we eliminate the phenomena that provoke them.
Therefore, the objective - which constitutes one of the main raisons d'être of your valuable day-to-day work - is to prompt our friends of the European Union to make a common commitment to assert the reasons of the values of our civilisation through a careful and capillary action at international level.
It is an effort that includes our partners, firstly those within the common Institutions that are at the core of the European integration process.
Of course, national interests are the target that everybody aims for. However, thinking that they might coincide with enclosing oneself in a narrow space is an error that forebodes dangerous consequences.
Having foresight is a lesson that Italy learnt during the process that led it towards its national unity.
This also applies to the times we debate inside the communities we relate to.
Today too, it is dialogue and asserting our reasons, with objectivity and patience, that enables us to obtain greatly relevant results.
This is what happened with the debate on the issue of economic governance, which freed us from a situation of heavily unbalanced public finances and enabled us to put in place a flexible system that has contributed to our recent recovery.
The road to be taken - which is at times rough - is towards a healthy balance between reforms and debt reduction, being well aware of the connection that exists between redressing the budget and growth.
Looking at another significant example, it was equally through a continuous and capillary commitment that we also obtained important results for the banking system, through a positive dialogue with the Institutions of the Union, which enabled us to make our arguments heard and to identify the best possible solution for our economic system, albeit in compliance with the common regulatory framework.
I am certain that this same firm negotiating method will enable us to overcome the numerous obstacles that still hinder us from having a forward-looking and effective regulation of the issue that is perhaps the most relevant facing the European Union today: managing the migration phenomenon with an authentic Community approach.
It is not easy to develop instruments capable of tackling a phenomenon of such a dimension but it must be our goal. There are various ways of regulating it: the only one that certainly does not exist is the illusion of making it disappear.
If Italy, in the Mediterranean, is the border of Europe, the Europeanisation of rescuing human lives at sea - which has seen our Country remind others, through its example, of the principles and values that constitute the very foundations of the European civilisation - must correspond to the Europeanisation of receiving those who have the right, but also the Europeanisation of repatriations and of opening legal immigration channels.
What we are asking for is a collegial discussion, serious and responsible, leaving aside off-the-cuff remarks on the border of appearing a joke, which are inappropriate for international dialogue and debate.
Also in this context, your efforts in Brussels, in the capitals of Europe, of the Mediterranean and of Africa, are essential.
You know that Europe and Africa have progressively come closer, that the southernmost border of the Union has, de facto, moved further south, across the Mediterranean, and stretches towards what has been defined as the "Continent of the Future".
Towards that Continent that Italy has long decided, through forward-looking strategies, to focus its attention and care on.
It is also thanks to our efforts that - via your engagement - the Union started looking at Africa with greater awareness, both from a political point of view and in terms of the resources dedicated to its growth.
However, the overall picture is still too fragmented. The support policies of major donors often lack consistency and therefore are less effective than development aid, which however remains insufficient. On the other hand, there are also considerable difficulties arising from the complex internal dynamics that exist in several of that Continent's Nations.
The method inaugurated with the migration compact, and subsequently incorporated into the various programmes with the first Pilot-Countries, must be extended, in consideration of the possible contributions of non-European donors, in an effort that might finally be synergic, thus benefiting the strengthening of the African Countries' societies and institutions. This is a commitment that Italy, thanks to its sensitivity, its history and its objective capabilities, has already undertaken and that must be constantly continued and extended also on different fronts - such as in fighting terrorism and the trafficking of human beings - keeping in mind its centrality in assuring the wellbeing, peace and stability of Europe and Africa, if not of the entire planet.
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors,
The Union too is at a turning point, after a period of a semi-forced stasis linked to the scheduled elections in numerous partner Countries, and after being deeply affected by the British referendum which, as any fait accompli, is already slipping off our shoulders.
The celebrations for the 60th Anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, at the end of which, thanks to a careful and constructive effort by the Italian diplomacy, it was possible to draft and sign a challenging Declaration, must mark the start of a "quantum leap" in the continent's integration process, in line with the most ambitious options contained in the "white paper" released by the Commission. A sign of confidence in the prospect of Europe, aware that the process to build common institutions is not always coherent. Yet, Europe is called on to answer you now if it intends to fulfil an increasingly positive and relevant role on the international scene.
The necessary review of the Treaties depends on the political choice between different options: surrender to being irrelevant, languish in the idleness of ineffectiveness, or resolutely resume the road towards integration.
Only a cohesive Europe will be able to effectively concur in affirming its values and in determining global equilibria.
At a time in which drives - from different directions - towards protectionism are becoming increasingly assertive, thus undermining global growth, it is the whole of Europe that must respond through consistent behaviours capable of assuring that our businesses operate freely and safely, investors act under the protection of fair and shared rules, consumers be protected and see their rights defended.
We cannot neglect recalling the strong push that our Country has given to developing the European security and defence dimension.
A push that was necessary in order to endow the Union with tangible instruments around which to consolidate international lines of action which would benefit of all the Member Countries, in a context in which tension and areas of crisis multiply and draw ever-closer to the borders of Europe.
In this sense, the Union's global strategy represents a significant step forward, which must be adjusted to the single scenarios and supplemented with operating options in an effort that, quoting the pertinent definition by the missions of the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance - the real "linchpin" of our security - might wisely tackle the challenge represented by the threats from different directions that, at this point in time, are concentrated in the particularly fragile area of the Mediterranean and of the Middle East.
The stabilisation of areas of crisis - first and foremost Libya - require actions that overstep the scope of single Countries or of single international alliances of the "willing", if we intend to put in place solutions that are sustainable on the long term. We must all be aware that the interaction between global processes has a direct impact on the world's stability. Demographics for example, in their extreme variation between different areas of the world, impose an approach targeted on pursuing the broadest cooperation possible.
We must use the same approach in fighting phenomena such as terrorism, climate change, food insecurity and inequalities.
This year - in circumstances that are objectively far from easy - Italy holds the chairmanship of the G7 with precisely this spirit: to pursue an all-around cooperation, looking beyond everybody's immediate interests, as the key to successfully tackle the challenges facing us.
It is the same spirit that motivates our mandate within the UN Security Council and that will orient our presidency of the OSCE next year.
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors,
your recognised professionalism is put to the test on a day-to-day basis in trying to best interpret this complex and changing dynamic, to the benefit of our community and in the interest of all humankind.
In thanking you for the tasks that you perform, with dedication and passion, the fruit of an uncommon training and selection process, and inviting you to continue to unrelentingly pursue an in-depth analysis of the settings that surround you, allow me to extend to you - and to all the personnel of the Foreign Ministry, in Italy and abroad - my best wishes for success in your work.