“2012 has been a difficult year; 2013 is filled with unknowns” and the main challenge is to “strengthen and build on the high rate of renewed credibility that Italy can boast in the world”. President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano spoke before the 9th Conference of Ambassadors at the foreign ministry in Rome. “This is not a time to linger over flattering self-assessments, the country needs more than ever before to be able to count on the solidity and reliability of its international reach”, the Head of State stressed, according to whom “it is necessary to encourage the rise of a Europe that speaks in a unified voice and expresses a common intention to be a leader in international relations at an historic stage in which the risks include backsliding, division and irrelevance”.
International presidential activities impossible without foreign ministry support
Napolitano had eloquent words for Italian diplomacy: “The intense international activities I have engaged in throughout my mandate”, he said, addressing the over 130 diplomats gathering in Rome today from around the world, “would never have been possible without the constant, intelligent and operational support of the foreign ministry and the entire diplomatic-consular network”. “The foreign ministry is an excellent school for service to the State”, Napolitano continued, and “this is demonstrated by the professional skill and self-denial with which you perform that service, which also carries personal and family-related sacrifices. Your career is both open to the world and representative of our national patrimony”.
Terzi: diplomacy as a “growth engine”
Diplomacy as an “engine” for growth, spurring the country toward recovery and increased exports and foreign investments, is the main theme of the 9th Conference of Ambassadors opening today at the foreign ministry in Rome. It was also the central thrust of Minister Giulio Terzi’s speech, preceded by a welcome address from Secretary General Michele Valensise who, after recalling that the conference was taking place at a “particular” moment for the country with “pressing political and institutional deadlines”, underscored that it was also a moment for reflection on foreign policy choices with a view to “institutional continuity and stability”. Valensise also emphasised the need for a “mounting commitment to rewriting the rules in an increasingly complex world”, recalling the “richness of our extraordinary and capillary diplomatic network”.
“We view growth today as an absolute priority for Italy and for Europe”; a priority that “must be ours as we join other leaders in promoting it”, according to Minister Terzi, who observed that the theme “to which we have chosen to dedicate this conference, fully concerns Italy’s diplomatic aims”. Today “we are looking at growth, aware that discipline and efficiency in public spending and structural reforms are respectively its pre-requisite and fuel”, the nation’s top diplomat explained, pointing out, at the same time, how the theme of growth could not be reduced to a mere economic factor. Growth also means “acting on behalf of stability, resolving conflicts and rebuilding countries crippled by war, in support of human rights and democracy”, the minister concluded.
Italy increasingly a leader in global decision-making dynamics
The influence of a country on the International scenario “is not only defined by its economic prospects, but more in general, by the solidity and reliability that it inspires in its partners”, Terzi then added, explaining that “there is still much to be done, but Italy is playing an increasing role in global decision-making dynamics, in security and, more in general, in the international agenda”. Prime Minister Mario Monti is scheduled to participate in the conference closing tomorrow, Friday
21 December. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is also expected to speak.
9th Conference of Ambassadors (20-21 December)
Focus on diplomacy’s role in the country’s growth.
“Putting public finances back in order and regenerating growth will contribute to strengthening Italy’s position in Europe and, more in general, our foreign policy”. This orientation, taken from a speech by Prime Minister Mario Monti to the Parliament, has underpinned Minister Terzi’s and the Foreign Ministry’s agenda over the past six months and will, in a spirit of continuity and coherence and a focus on strengthening Italy’s international credibility, be the inspiration for the next Conference of Ambassadors of Italy.
Diplomacy at the service of growth
The main theme of the 9th Conference of Ambassadors, working on the basis of an acquis consisting of the updated priorities and strategies that emerged from the preceding one, will be the role of diplomacy in growth, this latter being understood in a context not only economic and with special attention to the European context, our primary point of reference.
The nation’s image and credibility, thanks not least to its status and influence in the European Union, are the fundamental prerequisites for the diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving our objectives. In turn, those efforts must stimulate a systemic organisation that avoids fragmentation and overlaps.
The country’s growth, which the Ambassadors represent in all its aspects, means far more that GDP. It means economic and social progress, wider-spread and better-balanced prosperity, future prospects for young people, research, innovation, culture and more solid public ethics. All dimensions requiring the best European and international standards in global collaboration/competition, and essential also as factors in the formulation of national policies and interests.
An all-inclusive strategy
Diplomacy has an impact on growth conditions and their sustainability over time. It underpins the stability of the geopolitical areas that affect our security, exports and supplies, the defence of businesses and citizens abroad and the internationalisation of the various components of the country system, which includes attracting investments and tourism. For the first time on 22 October, in collaboration with Minister for Economic Development Passera, an all-inclusive plan was launched for foreign promotion activities, prepared on the basis of the goals identified by the Embassies for each country.
Strong point: Italy’s international vocation
Italy has a very decisive strong point – its intense international vocation, free of hegemonic ambition. It therefore has a primary and genuine interest in cooperative international relations based on legality, on strengthening democracy, human rights and freedoms, on the spread of sustainable development and balanced global governance that responds more effectively to global challenges.
The Conference will address two contexts.
In the sessions with members of the government, discussions will revolve around global themes and the horizontal profile of diplomacy. An introductory document prepared by the Directorates General and diplomatic advisors will help to guide the ministers’ debate on matters of greater importance for Italian bilateral, EU and multilateral diplomatic efforts.
Regional work group sessions will focus on the principal opportunities and problems in pursuing our interests, also in the EU, in their respective areas. In this case also, brief introductory documents will be distributed in advance in order to orient discussions.
The Conference agenda also includes a session for discussion between the mission heads and the minister himself, and a round table discussion with business community leaders. These will also be moments useful to improving the overall framework of the foreign ministry and its network’s renewed centrality, investments in which will support the nation’s growth.