Consul Tommaso Claudi was awarded the "La Chiave d'Europa" award for his extraordinary contribution to the Italian Government's humanitarian operation during the emergency in Kabul. The award ceremony, promoted by the Municipality of Ventotene and the association "La Nuova Europa", took place yesterday, 23 September, in the Sala dei Mosaici at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ambassador Ettore Francesco Sequi, Secretary-General of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was present and had words of conviction in recognising the diplomat. "This is a very welcome initiative. The choice of awarding a young State official, a diplomat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs", said Sequi, "is a reason for pride for me. I consider it an acknowledgement of the work that diplomats from all over the world do every day in the country's service. Tommaso has demonstrated courage and a spirit of solidarity. He has been quick-witted. He has made us proud".
Tommaso Claudi was awarded for his "extraordinary commitment to respect for civil rights and freedom. By putting himself at the service of the masses,' reads the motivation for the award, 'he opened the door to Europe to thousands of people fleeing from Afghanistan, bringing them to safety and accompanying them to freedom". The Mayor of Ventotene, Gerardo Santomauro, and the President of "La Nuova Europa", Roberto Sommella, presented him with "La Chiave d'Europa".
"I am very honoured by this recognition, but it is a tribute to all the institutions," said Claudi. He stressed that the operation in which he played a leading role, in which 5,000 people, including Italians and Afghans, were rescued, "is more the result of teamwork than a personal experience. My work was the consequence of preparatory work'. On the motivations that drove him to courageous behaviour, he said: 'nobody on the ground asked why we were doing this. We took it for granted that it was our duty. We did not ask ourselves the motivation. If anything, we asked ourselves how to do it better.
Ambassador Sequi stressed that "La Chiave d'Europa" award was "born from the spirit of the Ventotene Manifesto and demonstrate what solidarity among Europeans means. Today an Italian diplomat can find himself assisting in a crisis, even citizens of other EU member states, as Tommaso himself did in Afghanistan a few days ago. This continental solidarity is an achievement that has been painstakingly achieved over decades of integration. It should not be diminished, taken for granted or allowed to fade away".
Claudi's award ceremony was also an opportunity to reiterate Italy's commitment to Afghanistan: "our country," said Ambassador Sequi, "will soon have a national action plan in support of the Afghan people, the result of a concerted programmatic effort by all state administrations, including the local ones. It is a "plan that will also involve civil society and will be based on five pillars: humanitarian assistance, the development of a structural response to the flow of refugees from Afghanistan to neighbouring countries and potentially to Europe, training initiatives for Afghan students, human rights initiatives with particular attention to women, political and diplomatic initiatives to define a strategy shared with international partners".