(Check against delivery)
General Del Sette,
Vice Admiral Girardelli,
Ambassadors and foreign guests,
It is a great honour for me to host you here today to celebrate the excellent collaboration between diplomacy and the Carabinieri Corps [Arma dei Carabinieri], to enhance citizens' security and promote Italian interests throughout the world.
Legality is in your heart. I wish to bring back the touching memories of all those who have lost their lives for these values, in Italy and abroad. I remember in my city, Agrigento, Sergeant Giuliano Guazzelli (Gallicano 6 April 1934 - Agrigento 4 April 1992) who was killed by the Mafia at the beginning of the 90s. Giuliano stood up for legality with the utmost sacrifice.
It is a pleasure to meet you here also because, during these past months of intensive endeavors abroad, I was commended for the Carabinieri's work within the framework of the Global Coalition Against Daesh, first among many by the United States Secretary of State Tillerson.
I will, frankly, tell you that our partners have literally overwhelmed me with requests of training and capacity building programmes to be delivered by the Carabinieri. You have built a 'success pattern' which everyone would like to copy, and it is not easy to improvise.
It is, in fact, a pattern based on a great past history. Back in 1897, during the crisis between the Ottoman Empire and Greece, the Carabinieri were asked to train what was to become the Gendarmerie of the Island of Crete. Even then, that task was carried out in cooperation with diplomacy that contributed in the mediation between the conflicting parties.
Today, the Carabinieri offer a fundamental contribution to the European Gendermerie Force and are in the front line in many crucial theatres to fight against terrorism. Italy's commitment against terrorism, which we have recently enhanced during the Taormina G7 Summit with a joint declaration, strengthens our global action. In Iraq, thanks to your 'success pattern', Italy, along with the Army and the special forces, has contributed to train approximately 18,000 security forces that are winning the battle against Daesh.
It is a pattern that combines technical capability with cultural awareness. These are the features which underline the 'Italian approach' of our Carabinieri, which is a synonym of respect, humanity, solidarity and consideration for the civilian communities.
The Carabinieri offer their unique expertise and professionalism, which include peace and security operations, the defense of the cultural heritage and the protection of the environment.
Be they under the aegis of the UN, NATO, or the EU, I will never hesitate to say that the Carabinieri represent the excellence for stability and peace across the world - from Iraq to Lebanon, from Cyprus to Afghanistan, from Kosovo to Somalia, from Libya to Mali.
Among the many sectors in which our Carabinieri excel, I wish to mention their commitment to the protection of the cultural heritage.
I am pleased to recall that the Carabinieri Corps were the first to set up a Command for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage, thus anticipating the UNESCO resolutions.
Our common challenge, as diplomats and Carabinieri, consists in placing culture at the service of peace and security. Because, wherever there is culture, there will be no room for armies. Culture wins over fanaticism and extremism, which fuel terrorism.
I am thinking about Daesh attempting to destroy, in Syria and in Iraq, some of the most astonishing works of mankind, which are part of the cultural identity of the Syrian people and of all of mankind. These are horrible actions, but culture is far more powerful than bombs.
Italy is already at the front line in the protection of cultural heritage in areas of crisis.
We have brought the issue of culture to the agenda of the UN Security Council by fostering Resolution 2347, the Security Council's first resolution on the protection of cultural heritage in conflict areas.
As the major contributor, among Western countries, to the Blue Helmets, we believe that the Security Council should devote greater attention to threats of cultural heritage and the impact these have on global security.
It is an endeavour that Italy is conducting with the precious contribution of the Carabinieri Corps, especially within the UNESCO framework and its campaign Unite4Heritage, we have devoted a task force to the organisation in order to face threats to cultural heritage.
Italy has been promoting several initiatives to counter the illegal trafficking of cultural property, which make up a financing resource for terrorists. These initiatives have been carried out within the framework of the Coalition Against Daesh, along with the working group to counter such financing.
Italy has also supported the Final Declaration of the first G7 on Culture in reasserting with determination the committment to protect endangered cultural heritage, to fight against illegal trafficking, and to contribute in establishing a dialogue and cooperation.
I am more convinced than ever that environmental lawfulness is our new frontier.
Dignity and civilisation of a country can be measured by its capability of protecting the territory. In my capacity as Foreign Minister, I realise that respecting the environment is a way to assess our international reputation and credibility.
Today, the inclusion of the Italian Forestry Corps into the Carabinieri Corps, will enable us to have an even stronger and united team to protect the environment, in Italy and abroad.
I know that, recently, you organised the Carabinieri Corps Second International Conference on the Environment.
I am glad that in such a context there is a new prospect for the collaboration between the Carabinieri Corps and the FAO, on actions for forestry-environmental protection, and initiatives to fight against climate change. Diplomacy welcomes and supports this cooperation, and I am glad that the agreement will soon be signed.
I would also like to remind us all that a few weeks ago I granted my determined clearance to the agreement between the Arma dei Carabinieri [Carabinieri Corps] and the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF). This framework agreement on such a crucial topic also regulates cooperation activities on agricultural and environmental issues.
The Farnesina is interested in all these issues because the protection of the environment cannot be detached from foreign policy, and it entails our security. At the Ministry, we have created the position of Coordinators on climate and environment sustainability issues. Along with the Ministry of the Environment, we coordinate the process for the definition of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, to be submitted to the United Nations in the month of July.
Experience teaches us that neglecting the environment and climate issues is a multiplier of instability. It is almost like an armed attack, as climate events can kill people, interrupt lifeline services, and generate public disorder.
I, therefore, wish you to pursue the avenue of international cooperation on environmental issues, being certain that the Farnesina will always be ready to support you, as environmental protection is an integral part of our foreign policy and our security.
I will close by expressing my true gratitude to the Arma dei Carabinieri, to all the women and men who 'defend diplomacy' every day.
I am referring to the major security service that you offer at the Farnesina, at the 128 diplomatic missions and consulates abroad, especially in 14 locations that are particularly at risk, where the Carabinieri also carry out protection and escort services.
The Carabinieri on duty abroad represent a guarantee for our security at a time when the premises of our missions are exposed to risks and unforeseeable threats. Yet, I am convinced that their service abroad represents a very important and rewarding phase of their own professional development and training. It is a challenge when one works in a foreign environment, utilising one's own capabilities for dialogue and developing the cultural awareness needed in international missions. And, seeing a Carabiniere at the entrance of an Embassy or a Consulate, not only makes us feel safer, but makes us feel at home no matter where we are in the world. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to you.