Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation to make this State Visit to the Republic of Armenia, the first made by an Italian Head of State in your country. The warm welcome that was given to me, my daughter and the delegation that has accompanied me is a testament to the profound bonds of friendship that unite our peoples and the special regard that you personally - Mr. President - feel for Italy.
In the invitation you sent me the day after your election as President of the Republic, I likewise perceived a hint of renewed impetus of collaboration towards our country. Relations between states are moreover based on the warmth of friendly relations, mutual esteem and trust, and this is indeed the case with regard to the relations between Armenia and Italy, which are deeply rooted in the legacy of ancient civilizations.
The purpose of this visit is to highlight the indelible traces of a journey that has united us since time immemorial, whose tale begins with the column of Marcus Aurelius, in the heart of ancient Rome.
Enlightened figures of Armenian culture have left an indelible mark on the cities of the peninsula, from Venice to Bari, from Genoa to Palermo. The mark of enlightened exarchs, such as Narses and Isaac, in Byzantine Ravenna or Governor Mussele in my region, Sicily, is part of our common heritage. Sons of these lands, from Saint Gregory the Illuminator to Father Mekhitar, attained peaks of spirituality and theological studies. Padua and Bologna recall the extraordinary contribution of the chemist Giacomo Luigi Ciamician, senator of the Kingdom of Italy, while the memory of Tigran Tchoukhajian, the operatic genius, is vivid in Milan.
With my presence, Mr. President, I wish to honour this special and fruitful mingling of our countries, as well as pay homage to the noble city that hosts us, and that this year celebrates the 2,800th anniversary of its foundation.
Armenia and Italy are united by a history marked by a long period of national development, by the quest for freedom and democracy through events of considerable historical and human importance; from episodes of individual and collective heroism, by pages of suffering that, in the case of the Armenian people, culminated in appalling agony and extermination.
Thus, in the spirit of heartfelt participation in a national history, for which we have a profound respect and great fondness, Italy wishes to honour the memory of the centenary of the First Republic of Armenia. And it intends to do so particularly with a view to the active contribution that our countries – both individually and through International Organizations – currently intend to bring to stability and dialogue in the context of international relations.
Our common commitment under the banner of the United Nations, in favour of peace and security in Lebanon, is an eloquent testament of this contribution and of our friendship.
we live in an era characterized by an unprecedented interdependence. More than ever, the destinies of humanity appear inseparably intertwined. The problems we face are intrinsically global and their solution cannot disregard the pursuit of unified and coordinated responses. This new and growing condition increasingly calls for respect of international law, for dialogue and negotiation as a means of resolving controversies and crises, for the conviction of the common interest in collaboration, rather than in opposition. Confiding solely in oneself appears illusory, an expedient destined to shortly reveal all its inadequacy.
Armenia and Italy are called to play an active role on the international scene - with commitment, vision, responsibility and commonality - to promote collaboration at all levels, firmly founded on the values and principles set forth in our respective Constitutions and on the respect for the rights of the individual.
A collaboration that can contribute to the stability of the Caucasian and Mediterranean areas and that can foster prospects for peace, openness and prosperity for all the peoples of the region and, above all, for younger generations.
the events scheduled in the programme of my visit reflect the profoundness of our collaboration, characterized by growing success and prospects for new accomplishments. With our present talks, which will be followed by meetings with the President of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister, we intend to give renewed impetus to the bilateral political dialogue. We have already mentioned the many promising opportunities, in countless fields, waiting to be seized: from culture to research, from youth exchange to the economy.
I am certain that, in this context, the "profound partnership" Agreement between Armenia and the European Union, which has recently come into effect, will allow relations between Yerevan and Europe to make a definite "qualitative leap", as well as contributing to bringing together the Mediterranean and Caucasian regions and enhancing every subsequent opportunity for dialogue and collaboration between these areas.
With these sentiments, Mr. President, I raise my glass to your personal well-being, to that of Mrs. Sarkissian and to everyone present, to the prosperity of the Armenian people and to the friendship between our countries.