Palazzo del Quirinale, 31/12/2018
we are living the time of social networks, in which many people live connected to the network and constantly communicate what they think and also what they do in their daily lives.
Times and habits change but this appointment - born decades ago with the first President, Luigi Einaudi - is not a formal ceremony. It gives me responsibility of wishing you all the best for the new year: it is a traditional appointment, always topical and, for me, very welcome.
It allows us to formulate, certainly not an analysis, but a few thoughts on the past year. It allows me to convey what I have heard and received on many occasions throughout the year from many of our compatriots, almost giving them a voice in this way. And to do it from here, from the Quirinale, home of all Italians.
What I have been listening to expresses, above all, the need to feel and recognize ourselves as a community of life. The closeness and affection that I often feel, I interpret them as the need for unity, represented by those who represent the Republic that is our common destiny.
I would like to reflect briefly precisely on this point, together, as we enter a new year.
To feel like a “community” means to share values, perspectives, rights and duties.
It means "thinking about ourselves" within a common future, to be built together. It means responsibility, because each of us is, to a greater or lesser extent, a protagonist of the future of our Country.
It also means being respectful of each other. It means to be aware of the elements that unite us and to fight, as it is should be, for one's own ideas to reject hatred, insult, intolerance, which create hostility and fear.
I am well aware that some people will say: this is rhetoric of good feelings, that reality is unfortunately a different one, that there are many problems and that we need to think most of all about security.
Of course, security is a condition for a peaceful existence.
But safety begins from here: from an environment in which everyone feels respected and respects the rules of common living.
The demand for security is particularly strong in some areas of the Country, where the arrogance of the mafias is felt more heavily. And in many urban suburbs where degradation favours the spread of criminality.
Free zones where the law is not observed are not acceptable and one sometimes gets the impression of inadequate institutions, with citizens feeling alone and defenceless.
True security is achieved effectively, preserving and guaranteeing the positive values of coexistence.
Security is also work, education, a fairer distribution of opportunities for young people, attention to the elderly, serenity for pensioners after a working life: all this is more easily achieved by overcoming conflicts and supporting each other.
A few weeks ago in Turin some children gave me the honorary citizenship of an imaginary place, which they called “Felicizia” (a mixture between friendship and happiness) to indicate friendship as the way to happiness.
A dream, maybe a fairy tale. But we have to be careful not to confine our dreams and hopes to the childhood season only. Like these values aren't important in the adult world.
In other words, we must not be afraid to express good feelings that make our society better.
These are the values cultivated by those who carry out their duties seriously, day by day, those of those who voluntarily work to help others in difficulty.
Our Country is rich in solidarity. Often civil society has arrived, more effectively and with more human warmth, in remote places not reached by public institutions.
I remember the meetings with those who, in hospitals or in the suburbs and in many places of loneliness and suffering, give comfort and serenity.
The many volunteers who have intervened in natural disasters alongside the State Corps.
Is "Italy that stitches" and that gives confidence.
As do the realities of the Third Sector, of the No-profit sector, which represent a precious network of solidarity.
These realities are real clear on the equal dignity of each person and deserve greater support from the institutions, not least because they often make up for the State shortcomings or delays in helping the weakest, the marginalised, the lonely elderly, families in difficulty and the homeless.
That is also why “taxes on goodness” should be avoided.
The image of positive Italy must prevail.
Italy's model of life can not - and never will - be that of the violent ultras of the football stadiums, extremists disguised as fans.
They feed hotbeds of sectarian hatred, discrimination, hooliganism.
Phenomena that public authorities and football clubs must oppose and eradicate.
Sport is something else.
To call for a more serene coexistence does not mean to close our eyes to the difficulties that our Country is facing.
We know we have significant resources; and there are many reasons why we should be looking forward to the coming year with confidence. In order to be up to the task we have to face problems with words of truth, without hiding deficiencies, conditioning, errors, approximations.
There are many issues we need to resolve. The lack of work that is still at intolerable levels. The high public debt that penalizes the State and citizens and places a heavy mortgage on the future of young people. The competitiveness of our production system has been reduced, albeit with significant results in advanced sectors and companies. Deficiencies and deterioration of infrastructure. The wounds of our territory.
We must have faith in a positive path. But there are no miraculous recipes.
Only tenacious, coherent and forward-looking work produces concrete results. In-depth work that requires competence and that costs effort and commitment.
Consistent goals have been achieved over time. Result of the work and intelligence of entire generations before us.
For example, we have just commemorated the 40th anniversary of the National Health Service.
It was - and is - a great engine of justice, a pride of the Italian system. Which has allowed the increase of Italians’ life expectancy at the highest level in the world. There is no shortage of defects and disparities to be overcome. But it is an asset that must be preserved and strengthened.
The universality and the effective realization of citizenship rights have been great achievements of the Republic: our welfare state, based on the constitutional pillars of health protection, welfare, assistance, school is a positive model. To be protected.
Yesterday evening, I promulgated the budget law in such a way as to avoid the provisional budget, even though it had been definitively approved by Parliament only a few hours ago.
Having prevented to launch infringement proceedings by the European Union for failure to comply with freely signed standards is an element that strengthens confidence and provides stability.
The great compression of the parliamentary examination and the lack of a proper confrontation with the social bodies require now a careful verification of the contents of the measure.
I sincerely hope that the Parliament, the Government and the political groups will find a way of constructively discussing what has happened and will ensure adequate conditions for examination and discussion in the future.
The European dimension is the one in which Italy has chosen to invest and to play its future; and within it we must be an authoritative voice.
I would like to reiterate a thought of great solidarity to the families of Antonio Megalizzi, victim of a cowardly terrorist attack together with other European citizens.
Like many young people, he was committed to a Europe with fewer borders and more justice. He understood that the difficulties could be overcome by relaunching the project of a Europe of rights, of citizens and peoples, of coexistence, of the fight against hatred, of peace.
This year we will be called upon to renew the European Parliament, the institution that represents the European peoples in the Union, forty years after its first direct election. It is one of the largest democratic exercises in the world: more than 400 million European citizens will go to the polls.
I hope that the election campaign will take place calmly and that it will be an opportunity for a serious debate on the future of Europe.
I was struck by a recent news episode, reported in the media. A ninety year old lady, feeling alone on Christmas night, called the Carabinieri. I just need company, she said to the soldiers. And they went to visit her at home and brought her some peace of mind.
To Mrs. Anna, and to the many people who feel lonely, I want to extend a warm greeting.
I would like to underline how significant it is that she approached the Carabinieri. Their uniform, like that of all the Law Enforcement and Fire Department, is the symbol of institutions at the service of the community. It is a heritage to be safeguarded because it belongs to all citizens.
Together with them, I wish to the women and men of the Armed Forces every success in ensuring our security and peace at home and abroad. They carry out a commitment that honours Italy.
Their function can not be distorted by assigning them to tasks that are not compatible with their high level of specialisation.
On this festive evening I would like to express my closeness to those who have suffered and still suffer - despite the time that has passed - the painful consequences of the earthquakes in central Italy, to the displaced families in Genoa and in the Etna area. In wishing them a peaceful year, I reiterate that the Republic assumes reconstruction as an binding commitment to solidarity.
Best wishes to all Italians, at home or abroad.
I wish the five million immigrants who live, work, go to school and play sports in our Country a happy year.
I extend a warm greeting to Pope Francis and I thank him, once again, for his magisterium, which is constantly aimed at promoting peace, social cohesion, dialogue and commitment to the common good.
I would like to conclude from where I started: from our recognition of ourselves as a community.
In recent years I have met many people engaged in activities of great social value, and many extraordinary places where the relationship with others is not perceived as a limit, but as that which gives life meaning.
I mention one among many, remembering and greeting the children and adults of the Autism Care Centre, in Verona, which I have recently visited.
They gave me paintings and drawings they had made. All of them are beautiful: they express creativity and the ability to communicate and participate. I wanted to put one of these next to me this evening. I thank them once again and wish them the warmest greeting.
To all of you, happy New Year.