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Cultural diplomacy to enhance and revitalise Italy’s heritage and economy, says Bonino

Cultural diplomacy alongside diplomacy for growth, to help revitalise the Italian economy and a heritage which is the world’s richest but which has “all too often been neglected and at times defaced”. These were Foreign Minister Emma Bonino’s comments in her opening address at the First International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy, in which she reiterated the Farnesina’s commitment to raising the profile of Italy’s immense cultural assets. Assets which, in our current economic situation, could be decisive factors in our country’s economic recovery.

A time to exploit Italy’s enormous cultural and creative potential

“The potential of Italy’s creativity, culture and language is simply enormous. But we must not repeat the errors of the past. Italy still hasn’t made up its delay in realising that in Asia, Africa and Latin America millions of men and women are now looking to global markets and see Italy and our culture as a source of inspiration and enrichment”, explained Minister Bonino. The Symposium will continue until Friday 14 June in Palazzo Giustiniani, the home of the Italian Senate.

“To respond to this growing demand for Italy, we need to work together and shake off old ‘corporatist’ interests and a bureaucratic mindset. This spirit must be agreed and shared by the relevant institutions and, most notably, the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities, the Ministry for Economic Development and Foreign Trade, and existing cultural organisations such as the Dante Alighieri Society”.

And in this framework, commented the Foreign Minister, one point must be clear: “While it is true that culture needs the economy, it is even more true that the economy needs culture to underpin and provide continuity to its foreign dimension”.

Economic recovery: a foreign policy priority

Against this background, Minister Bonino cited the potential role of EXPO Milan 2013: the biggest international event Italy will see in coming years. “The EXPO and other cultural events can play a part in revitalising the economy, a key priority for Italian foreign policy”. Expanding on her theme, the Minister reminded participants that the EXPO was conceived as “a festival celebrating the cultural integration of the peoples of the globe”.

Federal system best suited to European cultural pluralism

For the Minister, “it is an awareness of its diversity that gives Europe its lead […] While European culture is inspired by and forged from diversity and pluralism, the system best suited to grasping its essence and translating it into an institutional framework is a federal one”. A federal framework, in Emma Bonino’s view, that should not, however, be viewed as a Utopia.

“No European country can expect to win the great challenges of cultural diplomacy on its own merits. To build a united front to defend the values of freedom, diversity and pluralism, what we need is action that is broad in scope. Action that only a truly global player like the United States of Europe can undertake effectively”, concluded the Minister.

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