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Di Maio: «Libya and business: greater collaboration with France» (Il Mattino)

Every time I have the opportunity, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I’m pleased to speak about Campania, and how extraordinary the region is and, in particular, of Naples, a city I am very attached to.

About a year ago, in an interview in Italy, President Macron declared: «Naples is a special place for me; Stendhal once said that Europe has two capitals, Paris and Naples. Naples is a truly special city for me, I’ve been there many times and it is very dear to me».

In a few days time, the President of France will be in Naples once again, to attend the 35th Italy-France Summit, and I am very pleased of the fact that, in 2020, this event will take place in a city I am very fond of. It will be a very important event, which the government has decided to bring back after nearly 3 years, given that the last summit was held in Lyons in 2017, while the last bilateral summit in Italy was held in Venice, in 2016.

The summit will be attended by 12 ministers of the Italian Government and Prime Minister Conte. It will be an important opportunity to discuss a number of fundamental issues for our two countries. We already have excellent relations and our desire is to further improve on them, including those issues concerning which we may have different opinions or sensitivities. We intend to further strengthen our political, as well as economic and cultural, cooperation, in the former case with regard to several key international issues of common interest, beginning with the stabilisation of Libya and the synergy that we can express within Europe. We are founding Countries of the EU and we are aware of our responsibilities. At this moment in time, especially after Brexit, we must contribute to the process of European integration and strengthen the role of the Mediterranean Countries. With my colleague, Minister Le Drian, we will also discuss the issues of migration, the Sahel and the eastern Mediterranean and Gulf regions.

The Summit between our two countries will turn the international spotlight onto Naples, which will once again be projected into an international dimension at the end of March, when it will host the Meeting of Ministers of the Global Coalition working to defeat Daesh, with the expected participation of over 80 foreign delegations.

Naples is one of the capital of southern Europe and this is a historical event, confirmed not just be these two very important international appointments, but also by the presence of fundamental entities, such as the Nato Joint Force Command, which, since 2017, also hosts the “Nato Strategic Direction South Hub”. This centre plays an important role in monitoring and managing information relating to any threats from the Southern flank.

This city and, indeed, the entire region have a history reaching back thousands of years and solid roots and traditions, as well as centres of innovative technological
excellence, which is why I will be attending, on the day after the Summit, the inauguration of the Leonardo Campus at Pomigliano d’Arco, my birthplace. Here, day after day, an experience spanning half a century has been built up, since the first aircraft by the then Aeritalia started to be assembled at the Pomigliano facility in the 1970s, thanks to brilliant technical skills and culture, which have enabled the Italian aircraft industry, today, to partner with international giants like Boeing and Airbus.

I have often said, and wish to repeat now, that my focus as Minister of Foreign Affairs is to strengthen Italian foreign trade, based on the skills and network built up by the Foreign Ministry, and to boost the role of southern Italy in our export expansion, because it has all the potential. We need to focus on a mix of traditional sectors (such as our excellent agrifood products) and new technologies, which need the creativity that Italy alone can express, especially in the fields of AI, digitisation and the Internet of Things.