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Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful to His Highness the Emir for hosting this important event, and I would like to thank the French and Kuwaiti co-Presidency for the organisation of this meeting.
It is meaningful that the first international meeting I participate in, as Foreign Minister of the new Italian Government, focuses on the BMENA Region: a clear and longstanding priority of the Italian foreign policy both at national and European level.
We meet at a turbulent moment. Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa are facing fundamental challenges. Thanks to its history and geographic location, Italy is in a privileged position to deal with this region’s countries and peoples. Our geographical proximity and robust political, economic and social ties have led to strong interdependence, which is also facilitated by numerous interactions between civil societies and a shared cultural heritage.
Based on our experience, we believe that the initiatives of the G8-BMENA should progress as a framework for constant debate among equals, aimed at confidence-building across the region. These initiatives should embrace political issues as well as economic cooperation and cultural dialogue. That is why we need meeting points, such as the Forum for the Future, where peoples’ voices are heard. I came here essentially to listen.
Indeed, Italy is convinced that all forms of dialogue -intercultural, interreligious, among representatives of governments, businesses and civil societies- can support our cause. The aim is to protect our communities through concrete action based upon reality. And reality tells us that the outcome of the domestic situation in North Africa and the Middle East is of fundamental importance for all of us. And not just because of any swing it might cause in the balance of power in the region. I am aware that our own security, stability and prosperity are at stake, and that they cannot just be provided by outside actors.
Our shared goals will mostly depend on institution building, ownership, social cohesion, rights, fundamental freedoms and partnerships. As well as on positive communication to the public. To this end, we underscore the importance of an inclusive dialogue with all the relevant actors: a dialogue, which can guarantee reasonable prospects of development through mutual understanding. Dialogue is a value that we must preserve and promote together. The distinguished participation in this Forum and the constructive ensuing debate confirm that we are on the right track. I am confident that the incoming American and Tunisian co-Presidency will further enhance this dialogue, with the support of all of us.