Allow me to affirm my sincerest participation in the anniversary of the tragedy of Marcinelle, which occurred on 8 August 1956. Since 2001 the anniversary has been proclaimed “National Day commemorating Italian workers around the world”. Every year therefore our moved thoughts go to all the Italians who have died while working abroad. We want to honour their memory.
Over the decades, emigration, through courage, ingeniousness and sacrifice, has enabled the coming together of people, cultures, trades and nations, such as those of Europe, which now share the common project of European integration.
That tragedy, which took the life of 262 miners, of which 136 were Italian, made a fundamental contribution in shaping a European conscience. And this occurred only one year prior to the signing of the Treaties establishing the European Communities, of which we celebrated the 60th anniversary this year.
That united Europe succeeded in achieving the then unimaginable objective of maintaining peace on the continent for more than half a century, promoted the development of all its member Countries, and now enables our children to travel and live anywhere in the continent in conditions that are very different from those of the miners of Marcinelle.
The tragedy of Marcinelle still now gives us the strength to work towards a more cohesive and mutually supportive Europe, as was imagined by the founding fathers. A Europe that draws its origin and essence from a genuine spirit of brotherhood among its peoples. A Europe that is capable of giving a shared, unified and participative response to the great emergencies of our times. I am especially referring to the continuous flow of desperate migrants who now, just like then, are too often the victims of their condition.
The tragedy of Marcinelle spurs us to reflect on the issue of labour from its human and social perspective. We must never forget that labour without standards also kills in places less dangerous than the bowels of the Earth. Labour must be protected because it is synonymous to hope and future. It is the necessary prerequisite for creating a family and for individuals to grow in their relationship with the community.
Dear fellow-Italians, on this occasion our thoughts go to both the pioneers of our emigration and their offspring, but also to the new emigrants who now leave their country in different conditions, even if many among them are driven by the same desires and hopes. People like Fabrizia, Marco and Gloria, whom we lost in Berlin and London, the former the victim of a vile terrorist attack and the latter two the victims of a fatality that could have been avoided.
We would also like to express our closeness to the Italians living abroad in particularly difficult contexts such as in Venezuela, whom we are following with great attention in order to facilitate the adoption of solutions aimed at peacefully exiting the crises in which they are living.
We are proud of the contribution made to our Country by all of you, Italians in the world. Those who have left and still now leave Italy contribute, in many different ways, to dialogue and to strengthening relations with the Countries of destination, highlighting the deepest-rooted and positive values of the Italian way of life. And, in many different ways, you also contribute to make Italy grow.
It is with this awareness that I address my heartfelt thanks to all of you.