Four days, only four days, ninety-six hours, to conquer the markets of the Asian continent, source of 54% of world GDP, 44% of world trade and 60% global growth. Considering that 50% of Italian economic development hinges on interaction with foreign markets, and that Southeast Asia, one of the most dynamic areas of the world, offers 600 million consumers, it is understandable that our foreign minister Giulio Terzi is in a hurry to pack his bags. He leaves on Monday 27 February and will be engaged until 2 March in India, Vietnam and Singapore, after which he’ll be making a stop in Istanbul. With an average of three to four meetings a day with premier and foreign and trade ministers, Terzi will complete his tour to boost the Italian economy and diplomacy, in the company of a group of Italian businessmen.
Minister Terzi, your first stop in New Delhi seems particularly demanding, and a possibly awkward one. Your purpose is to promote trade with Italy, but looming is the serious problem of two Italian marines held by the Indian authorities, for which no solution has yet been found.
«As you can well imagine, this trip was planned before the incident. Naturally the fate of our two men in uniform tops my agenda. They were engaged in a operation to counter piracy, a very serious phenomenon that the international community and United Nations are sparing no effort to combat, and that requires the convinced support of all governments, especially those of coastal nations. The goal is to bring them back to their families. I will examine the situation in India with Under –Secretary De Mistura, who I have sent over there to provide political support to the delegation of representatives from the foreign, defence and justice ministries that arrived immediately following the incident. It is important not to be hasty. I have heard the appeals launched by the Hon. La Russa; I know him and I know the spirit in which he made them. There are situations that must be confronted resolutely; others call for the same determination, the maximum firmness, but also different timing and diplomacy, in order to avoid a useless and counterproductive increase in tension».
Have you met with the parents of Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone?
«I spoke with the parents of Salvatore Girone. Their distress is also my own, I thought about what I would have felt if one of those boys were my son. I gave them my word that I will do everything possible, and impossible, to bring them home. And I must succeed».
Was this trip to Asia your idea or Premier Monti’s?
«I must say it was both of ours. Our purposes are not only commercial and economic, but also political, aimed especially at reviving relations, even personal ones, between business persons and political authorities, which are indispensable in these cases. There has been a certain absence on our part when it comes to these countries, and the government now wishes to underscore its regard for the most promising ones, such as Vietnam, which is in a brilliant phase of international activity and burgeoning economic growth. The Piaggio company has opened a second factory in Vinh Phuc, which we will be inaugurating in the course of our visit in the presence of the Vietnamese Deputy Minister and the company’s President Colaninno. Our meetings with various Asian institutional leaders will facilitate an exchange of ideas and projects concerning the world around us: wars, revolutions, nuclear power and the defence of human rights, which are being trampled everywhere».
Regarding nuclear power, many people are thinking that Iran is going to have a rude awakening in 2012.
«The Iranian nuclear programme has reached the borderline separating uranium enrichment for peaceful energy production from the condition of being able to build a nuclear weapon. And there is, in any case, the effect on which the Iranian regime is surely counting: intimidation. Our reaction to scenarios such as these is to continue using the instrument of sanctions, which we have strengthened and that has placed the regime in difficulty».
After Vietnam you will be going on to Singapore…
«Singapore is one of the founding members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political, economic and cultural organisation covering nearly 8% of the world’s population and that has a $700 million GDP. It is precisely that area of the world where there is increased demand for intensified relations with the European Union, with which total commercial trade amounts to €500 billion».
Are you considering staying in politics after the end of your mandate?
«You won’t believe this, but the idea has not even entered my head, and I haven’t had time to think about it».
You will be 67 then and not able to go back to being a diplomat, since you will have retired.
«I don’t even know the word “retired”, or better yet, I associate it with the idea of a little hotel somewhere to spend a short holiday with my family. This I think of, yes».