Your Excellency the Dean,
Mister Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies,
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors,
Dear young Secretaries of Legation in probation period,
I would like to thank the Dean for his thoughtful and kind words and return the wishes that, through him, you have addressed to Italy and to me personally.
I thank you for the wishes and also for the precious service that you render to your Countries and to Italy through your daily efforts. Allow me to wish the Papal Nuncio, who began his mission only a few days ago and also took on the task of Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, my very best wishes for the assignment to which he has been called.
Within the context of foreign relations, the year that we are leaving behind us has been significant for my Country and, at international level, dense with events of no simple nor unequivocal interpretation and destined to leave a deep mark also in the year ahead of us.
In 2017, Italy consolidated its path towards economic recovery, with positive growth prospects also in terms of employment. These encouraging results also enabled us to record a trend reversal in the debt-to-GDP ratio which, after stabilising in 2016, is finally expected to fall for the first time at the end of this year and continue on a downward trend also in the coming years. The work done in the banking sector to help reinforce a sector that is strategic for development has also supported the production system: indeed, the corporate system recorded constant advancements, also in terms of global trade, which is proof of an incisive action on the part of the whole of Italy's "Economic System".
This positive turn for Italy came about in a very complex year at international level.
The causes for alarm are continual.
Perilous tendencies towards nuclear rearmament have surged. These thrusts are an element of serious concern for everybody, and they go to compound other unsolved belligerent tensions.
In a world characterised by a multitude of unstable scenarios, the position of those who believe that pursuing a nuclear weapon can form the basis on which to obtain internal and international legitimacy - the quasi-basis for a real equality among States - besides distorting reality and security, constitutes an unacceptable threat.
The instruments to control and develop peaceful nuclear applications in the civil sector exist and are the ones that should be relied on, as shown very recently by the agreements reached with Iran.
Terrorism, which largely benefits from the precariousness of the international situation, continues to represent a constant cause of concern for the whole Planet. To combat it, we must continuously renew our commitment to defeat this shifty and vile phenomenon that continues to claim innocent lives and aims to create divisions between States and peoples.
In this connection, allow me to mention the terrible attacks that recently hit Mogadishu and North Sinai, in which almost one thousand lives were wiped out in only a few seconds. A security response and the systematic exchange of information, at all possible levels, are the necessary instruments against this barbarity but, on their own, do not constitute a sufficient antidote, a vaccine against extremism. In order to fight the phenomenon at its roots, it is necessary to also make an educational effort, depriving this extremist and violent narrative - which mainly grows out of ignorance - of all legitimacy: in public discourse, in educational, religious and social institutions, and on the Web.
We need a solid alliance between all Countries, which might lead to definitively banning any movement, school of thought, or party that builds its creed on violence and terror and turns it into its means of action.
On a different level, an almost uncontrolled migration phenomenon is risking to destabilise peoples, borders and States, causing severe suffering among the people involved and fear for the peaceful coexistence and cohesion among peoples.
Its structural persistence - which is the fruit of a multitude of reasons, including exceptionally unequal population growth in different continents combined with an unequal distribution of wealth at single Country, continent and global level - requires greater responsibility on the part of the international community. Such a phenomenon cannot be tackled with simplistic solutions.
We have the duty to manage an evolving situation - and, as far as we are concerned, we have taken the necessary initiatives, starting with the Mediterranean and with Libya - in the respect of human life and rights and to the benefit of both migrants and hosting communities, thus laying the grounds for governing the phenomenon on the medium and long term. At European level, reforming the common asylum policy has now become undeferrable.
Only a programmed, lawful, and credible migration policy will be able to prevent the repetition of unbearable tragedies and defeat the intolerable phenomenon of human traffickers, who represent the negation of the values and principles on which our societies and the international community are founded. The uncompromising struggle against them must be relentless and must never neglect to open safe migration channels so as to avert the traffickers' abject intentions to take possession of the "monopoly of hope".
Not unlinked to the migration issue is that of climate change: a growing and looming hazard for ever-broader segments of the world's population. Also in this case, we are faced with phenomena that can only be tackled through a collective and far-sighted effort. Paris and the subsequent Climate Conferences' results constitute positive steps forward in the right direction and the underlying unity that has ensued is an encouraging factor that we hope, with time, will be able to contribute to weakening the drive of those who do not identify with this effort.
Lastly, the year that is drawing to an end has been characterised by an increasingly clean-cut antagonism - which would be a serious mistake to confine exclusively to the sphere of economics - between, on the one hand, protectionism and the temptation of new forms of isolationism, driven by the presumed and often illusory claim of local and national sovereignty, and a persisting confidence in open markets, free trade and supranational integration on the other. These are certainly not new topics of debate.
By and large, international relations appear to be trapped in a spiderweb formed by the threads of legitimate national interests - juxtaposed to the equally legitimate interests of other Countries - and by the those of the apparent paradoxes produced by globalisation. These must be isolated and corrected also to avoid dangerous drives leading to closures, as I just mentioned. Free enterprise promoted in the name of free trade and competition sometimes appears to lead to gigantic monopolies; the ease of communication sometimes seems to translate into the transmission of information that is surely potentially "universal" but also chaotic, inaccurate and manipulable. These liberties are the fruit of principles and values in which we believe and that must continue to be formidable drivers of opportunities. To make sure that they - as well as their aims - remain what they are, any distortion must be tackled and managed with firmness and intelligence.
Faced with this fundamental reality and the seesawing fluctuations that it records, the international community is pervaded by a feeling of inadequacy that at times seems to put it in a tormented and fatalistic state of expectancy for an "incident" to occur, and appears to be puzzled as to what to do in order to truly guarantee peace. Faced with this fundamental reality Italy - through pondered conviction - reaffirms its characteristic positions at international level, which are rooted in its Constitution, the 70th anniversary of which will be celebrated in 2018.
First: refuse war as the instrument whereby to violate the liberty of other peoples and as the means of settling international controversies and therefore, by way of the method to use, pursue dialogue as the principal means of tackling and solving existing international disputes.
In compliance with Art. 11 of our Constitution, we are committed to fostering the international organisations which aim to favour a legal order capable of assuring peace and justice among nations and, therefore, we are convinced that only an effective multilateralism, based on dialogue and mutual understanding, is capable of managing an interconnected reality.
To this end, let me recall how the Italian Republic - through Art. 10 of the Constitution - chose to conform its legal order to the generally recognised norms of international law.
Dialogue is not an obsolete instrument after all. Evidence of this is, for its part, the contribution that Italy has made to achieve it: the aforesaid commitment of Italian Institutions and citizens in the face of the tragedy of migration; the missions of peace, also in theatres of war very far from Italy; the pioneering actions of our enterprises, especially small and medium-sized, in all the markets of the world; the development cooperation activities of organisations belonging to the so-called third sector; cultural, scientific and technological cooperation with the whole international community. All these activities constitute an equal number of instruments of positive development and turn our Country into a staunch advocate of dialogue.
The Italian Republic believes that foreign policy cannot draw inspiration from the arid logic of a zero-sum between the contrasting interests of different Countries, but rather the instrument with which to build increasingly common and mutually convenient spaces between peoples, an exercise in which it may be possible to build respect for the coexistence of interests, values, and aspirations of the different parties involved.
This is the spirit with which, in 2017, Italy fulfilled two demanding tasks within the framework of multilateral international relations: the Presidency of the G7 and the term served in the United Nations Security Council. In the same way, and with the same method based on patience, we will assume the Presidency of the OSCE, that we are preparing to hold in 2018.
Second: on this 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, it seems timely to recall the reasons for which Italy unhesitantly took the road of limiting sovereignty - in parallel with other signatory Countries - with the aim of building a European equilibrium based on permanent peace and development.
The underlying stability that this decision, together with that of the Atlantic Alliance, gave to the European continent is increasingly valuable in the present international scene.
We will continue to support a free and integrated Europe representing a space of social, economic and cultural growth, open to cooperating with other areas of the world, as was recently proven by the agreements sealed with Canada and the progress made in negotiations with Mercosur and Japan.
A Europe increasingly confident over the effectiveness of the decisions made in favour of more incisive policies to promote cooperation with the African Union and permanent structured cooperation on the issue of defence, which have involved twenty-five members of the EU. A European Union driver of peace, stability and progress, firstly for itself and for the people of its neighbouring areas.
In thanking you once again for your presence and for your precious work, allow me to reciprocate the wishes you so kindly addressed to me, asking you to also kindly convey them to your families and Countries.