Antonio Tajani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will attend the 67th commemoration of the Marcinelle tragedy in Belgium on 8 August in the presence of the Belgian Royal Family. On that day in 1956, 262 miners, including 136 Italians, died in the Bois du Cazier coal mine.
This is the first time an Italian Deputy Prime Minister has taken part in the ceremony, which is held every year on the outskirts of Charleroi and to which only a few times has one of our Foreign Ministers spoken. Tajani’s presence at the celebrations is intended to underline the importance the government attributes to historical and modern-day migration.
“The sacrifice of our grandparents at Marcinelle and in so many other places must make us proud of the extraordinary contribution of Italian emigrants to the development of the countries where they arrived”, the Deputy Prime Minister remarked. “Still, it must also make us reflect on new emigration”. According to Tajani – who also recently ordered the reopening of an independent Consulate in Brussels to strengthen services to citizens – “Italian nationals abroad are Ambassadors of Italy in the world, as they are bearers of our culture and values, as well as of our entrepreneurial, technological and scientific excellence”.
After the commemoration at the mine site, opened with the traditional 262 tolling of the bell and a flyover by two Tornados of the Italian Air Force, the Deputy Prime Minister will pay his respects at the Monument to the Victims. Afterwards, he will meet a representative of the Italian community and attend the presentation of a school project underway in Belgian and Italian schools entitled “Belgio Chiama Italia” (Belgium Calls Italy), aimed at reinterpreting the issue of emigration in a contemporary key and strengthening the culture of identity in the new generations.