Italy in the world and the world in Italy: interviews with the ambassadors
Italy’s commitment in Libya, a nation still striving for peace almost three years after the fall of a long-lived regime; or in Afghanistan and in Iraq, to help with the reconstruction after years of war, while also paying a high price in human lives, both military and civilian; in Somalia, to restore a diplomatic presence that has been missing for years as a result of impossible security conditions; and the convinced efforts toward a Europe enlarged, particularly to the Balkans, in order to create an integrated economic system that includes the United States, our most important partner. Our country is reaching out through its diplomatic network to make its contribution to peace, stability and prosperity
Italy’s ambassadors, at the same time, facilitate the development of diplomatic, economic and cultural relations with other peoples so as to encourage the internationalisation of Italian businesses and attract foreign investments.
Napolitano: Ambassadors a resource for Italy’s growth
Bonino: A presence in emerging and difficult countries to help our enterprises
“The day-to-day work of all of the Farnesina’s staff is a major resource for the growth of our country. That work is carried on in situations that are often of extreme hardship, or even of very real and imminent danger. And here I am thinking not just of Tripoli, Baghdad or Kabul but of other places where the spotlight shines less brightly and the interest of the political community is less keen, but where the daily work of our diplomatic missions is no less difficult”.
This was the message from the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, in his concluding speech at the 10th Ambassadors’ Conference at the Farnesina. The Conference was closed by the Head of State, along with Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, who reiterated that Italian diplomatic missions must work “in emerging countries, and in difficult countries too, for our enterprises”.
Farnesina helps grasp opportunities that inspire confidence
“The Farnesina”, underscored Napolitano, “is helping us not just to recover from a difficult period but to actively grasp opportunities to which we can look with confidence and conviction, supported by the authority and credibility earned by our country in Europe and throughout the world”. These were the President’s words of encouragement to the Ambassadors, and to the Speakers of the Chamber and Senate and the several ministers who were also present. He explained that “constant and forceful action is vital to exploit to best effect our country’s efforts”.
Europe was one of the key topics of both the President and the Foreign Minister’s messages. Napolitano expressed his confidence that the Government, “supported by an undeniable spirit of Europeanism, will act with assertion and leadership in the forthcoming highly important events (most notably the Italian EU Presidency), especially on major issues that cannot fail to influence the future development of integration in the light of political union”.
“What is at stake in the EU elections is the need to establish a clear watershed between the current legislature, dominated by austerity, and the next, which must give greater emphasis to growth and jobs”. The Head of State suggested that the increasingly technical nature of European discussion is one cause of “citizens’ alienation from the European debate, in that it offers a limited and half-hearted image of Europe”.
Italy will spare no efforts for the future of Europe, declares Bonino
“Thinking about Europe without actually ‘making’ Europe is the greatest limitation to its future”, was Minister Bonino’s comment. “We believe that Europe is the future and that it must have a future. We will spare no efforts to that end”, she added. Bonino underscored that the countries of North Africa and the Near and Middle East “are our priority. In crises regions like Libya, Lebanon or Syria, ‘doing politics’ nowadays means accepting the resulting responsibilities. And we are doing that. In Libya, in Lebanon and, most recently, in Syria, with our role in the destruction of the chemical arsenal”.
“The Government has lived through an 8-month roller-coaster ride but intends to live the coming months with determination and commitment. In spite of the difficulties, we want the country to start ‘thinking big’. We can do it”. These were the words of Prime Minister Enrico Letta at the 10th Ambassador’s Conference, opened today by Foreign Minister Emma Bonino. Minister Bonino identified growth as a priority for Italy and declared that “foreign policy must be at the service of this need”.
Goals for 2014
“Growth of 1% in 2014 and 2% in 2015. That goal is within our reach if interest rates remain low, confidence in Italy remains high and, of course, our accounts remain in order”. On the subject of the public accounts, the Premier underscored that “achieving higher growth by ruining the public accounts is not our intention. Our accounts are in order and we have a renewed outlook for growth – while keeping the accounts healthy”, he added.
Across-the-board spending cuts are perverse
In spite of its work, the Foreign Ministry “is one of the ministries most affected by the perverse logic of across-the-board spending cuts we’ve seen in recent years”, observed the Prime Minister. An approach “applied without intelligence”, in contrast with “the attempt we’re making, through the spending review, to eliminate these linear cuts”.
Bonino was an unshakeable choice during the troubled birth of the government, says Letta
“The first choice for our foreign policy was Emma Bonino. During those troubled days of the birth of the government, that was an unshakeable choice from the outset, an important factor in our work”. The Premier recalled that “not always in Italian history, and I’m using a euphemism here, have the premier and the foreign minister seen eye to eye. And that characteristic doesn’t just apply to our country: you Ambassadors will have seen all sorts of tricky relationships in your work”.
The Prime Minister underscored the relationship of “trust and complete loyalty in these 8 months” between himself and the foreign minister. “A relationship of trust and collaboration is vital because it speaks of a country united and in agreement on our major objectives”.
Diplomacy for growth
“Italy has one priority above all others. Growth. And foreign policy must act at the service of this need”. This was Minister Bonino’s comment at the Conference, as she reminded the Ambassadors of the “diplomacy for growth” formula, which means working with two very clear goals in mind. One is to guide Italy into the world, by supporting our exports and the internationalisation of our enterprises. And the other is to bring the world to Italy, by attracting investment”.
Equipping the country to step up the pace
As Minister Bonino underscored, “Italy is a country that’s standing, or walking. With your help, it needs to equip itself to step up the pace – to run”. Minister Bonino reassured the Italian Ambassadors that “I am not asking, nor do I want, our Ambassadors to be transformed into sales representatives. Their role and their responsibilities are different”.
Cuts create a risk of disinvestment
“Diplomacy, and the Farnesina, will continue to serve the State in a spirit of self-denial, in the presence of limits imposed by financial resources, limits with which we’ve had to deal for years now. But in foreign policy”, underscored the Minister, “the on-going contraction in our resources corresponds symmetrically to a contraction in our capacity for action. The risk is that we’ll go from savings to disinvestment”.
“Farnesina 2015”, guidelines for diplomats to be published
Minister Bonino announced the publication of a 50-point document entitled “Farnesina 2015” containing guidelines for diplomatic activity worldwide, with political and operational priorities.