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Terzi: «A gaping wound for the government» (la Repubblica)

NEW YORK – If you will allow me, Mr. Minister, the foreign ministry is Italy’s standard bearer around the world. How does it feel to have to bear the image of a nation once again, witness the case of Lazio, smeared with shame?


«It is a wound, a gaping wound that we must now attempt to mend».


Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’Agata has returned to the General Assembly, this time as a minister. Imagine the indignation, as Barack Obama speaks of the Arab Spring, of Syria, of the progress being made in Somalia – “therefore also acknowledging Italy’s successful efforts, since these are the real pillars of our foreign policy” – at having to account for the latest scandal back home; when there are already “some 300,000 Syrian refugees, which could double by the year’s end, pouring onto our shores”, and while the attack on Benghazi has “refocused the attention on terrorist cells, which are also attempting to infiltrate our country” – indeed, two Libyans were deported yesterday.


The world is in turmoil, but Italy’s image abroad is once again one of outrageous revelry – this time sporting centurions, slaves and pigs’ head masks. What’s more, Terzi knows very well what it means to bear the Italian standard high, which, as Italy’s Ambassador to Washington, he had occasion to do as the U.S. media bubbled over with tales of “bunga bunga”.


So, Mr. Minister, just one year later, as the entire world recognises the progress made by the Monti government, American newpapers are once again gossiping about us.


«I answer for what has transpired since this government was installed. And I can say that we have been able to confront this crisis of image with a forceful response».


How, by trying to erase the image of the Silvio Berlusconi government?


«Shall I give you a list? Tax discipline; austerity in public spending; transparency; administrative rigour; savings resulting from a spending review to which, I would point out, the foreign ministry made its contribution».


Exactly, rigour – and then Lazio.


«Italy also has lots of stories of efficiency and good administration to tell. But…».


But even you have to admit, even the government has admitted, that this has not been enough.


«This very Assembly opened precisely on the subject of corruption. Between Syria, the nuclear problem and the Middle East, a decision has been approved that strengthens the rule of law, institutions and the principle of justice. Corruption is a priority cited by the United Nations itself».


Barack Obama said it in his speech. «Fighting corruption. Promoting open and transparent governments». And here we are, once again, with our shame.

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