Palermo, 21 giugno 2017
(The authentic text is only the one actually delivered)
Professor Fabio Mazzola,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning everyone!
Congratulations for the great work you have done during the last three days.
Imagine that same intensity, that same energy, and that same passion for two years! That’s what Italy and the Netherlands are achieving - together - in the Security Council of the United Nations.
Last year, after a competitive campaign to join the Security Council, Italy and the Netherlands were in a tied “match”. We could have gone to “penalty kicks”! But instead we made history!
We decided to “split” the mandate in the Council: 2017 for Italy; 2018 for the Netherlands. For two years, two founding Member States of the European Union will be working side-by-side.
Italy and the Netherlands share the same belief in multilateralism.
Multilateralism is inclusion. For example, it means involving women in peacebuilding negotiations. That’s why in October I will launch the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network.
Multilateralism is a way to share our best legacy with partners. Sicily has paid a huge price in the fight against the mafia. But we are honoured to share our experience at the United Nations. Just a few days ago, in New York, the General Assembly paid tribute to a great Sicilian, Giovanni Falcone.
Giovanni Falcone was a strong believer in international cooperation against organised crime. His work led the international community on the road towards the Palermo Convention. Twenty-five years after his killing, his courage still inspires us. We are proud of him and all the heroes that have fought the mafia.
Multilateralism is also a great instrument for defending freedoms against the tyranny of fear. The Dutch writer Hendrik Mattheüs van Randwijk once said: a people that surrenders to tyrants will lose more than lives and goods, it will lose its light. Nowadays, in Europe, the danger is the tyranny of populism, which spreads fear and disinformation. So, our governments work together to preserve the European light and to shed it on the global debate, rejecting the dark and deceptive rhetoric of populism.
Multilateralism is the best tool we have to solve the main challenges of our generation: like the migration crisis. With this aim, in two weeks, I will chair an international meeting in Italy, involving countries of transit and destination of the migration flows across the central Mediterranean route. I am grateful to Minister Koenders for his participation.
Allow me to mention what I consider to be the most important aspect of Italian policy on this issue. In a global context of no zero risks, we are achieving an extraordinary goal: we have saved so many lives without ever putting our security at stake; and we continue to combine security with solidarity.
Italy, and Sicily in particular, have saved the honour of Europe by rescuing and assisting so many refugees and migrants. However, we can no longer be left alone in facing this huge migration pressure. The problem is shared. The solutions have to be shared as well.
Italians and Dutch understand each other well. We are both surrounded by water: we have a deep respect for the sea and are not afraid to face its waves, even when the conditions are turbulent. We have never found in the stormy weather sufficient reasons for remaining ashore. We are ready to sail on across the international seas: our common journey continues to be inspired by our belief in freedom and multilateralism. The two great values that foster European integration.
Here in Palermo, I want to recall how Sicily played a crucial role in the construction of the EU, the greatest multilateral experiment the world has ever known. It was in Messina, in June 1955, that Foreign Minister Gaetano Martino, another great Sicilian, called upon his European colleagues - including the Dutch Foreign Minister Johan Willem Beyen - to prepare the groundwork for the European Common Market and the Treaty of Rome.
Gaetano Martino had a deep faith in multilateralism. His vision is still guiding us: to build a Europe which will not disappoint the hopes of the majority of free people who want to preserve freedom and multiply its fruits.
That’s what brought the Dutch and the Italians together in Messina. That’s what still sustains us here today. That’s why we work together in New York. Thank you.