(The authentic text is only the one actually delivered)
It is a pleasure for me to warmly welcome to the Farnesina, in particular:
- Deputy Minister Joaquim Verissimo
- Deputy Minister Mario Giro
- Prof. Andrea RiccardiToday is a beautiful day. We are celebrating 25 years of peace in Mozambique and at the same time we are celebrating a deep and longstanding friendship between the Italians and the Mozambicans.Mozambique is a Country that welcomed us heartily as far back as the 16th century, when we first heard the accounts of the journeys to that Country by Florentine and Venetian explorers. Italians started to settle in Mozambique, on a permanent basis, in the mid-Nineteenth century. A neighbourhood in Maputo still bears the name of the Albasini family: the bairro Albasini. And I am told that in the centre of the Capital there is still a little street whose name recalls the old Variety Show Theatre, one of the first to be built in the city (and probably demolished in the mid 1960s). It was built by the Sicilian Buffa-Buccellato family (from Trapani). I belong to the generation that was born just a few years before the independence of Mozambique (1975). But in a matter of a few years Mozambique went from the joy of independence to the tragedy of civil war. That was when many Italians gave their contribution to help their befriended people return to peace.When, in the end, the right path was found, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Boutros Ghali, called it "an Italian peace "...an Italian model comprising the institutional and the non-institutional". As you all know, that peace was signed in this very hall of the Farnesina on the night of 4 October 1992.Behind that "Italian peace" was the great commitment of the Representative of the Government of the time, Hon. Mario Raffaelli and of the Comunità di Sant'Egidio, with Prof. Andrea Riccardi, Mons. Matteo Zuppi and Don Jaime Gonçalves in the efficient role of negotiators. That peace was above all the result of the farsightedness of the Mozambican leadership and of the initiative of the Mozambican people. An acknowledgement should go to all the Mozambicans who were the protagonists of that lengthy negotiation that lasted 27 months phased into eleven difficult meetings.Since then Mozambique has become a great "success story" for the whole of Africa. The Index of Human Development tells the story of a Country that has made important progress in life expectancy, access to education, health, bridging inequalities and in increasing per capita income.Another qualifying point: in spite of the fragility of its society as a result of the conflict, Mozambique has succeeded in remaining a multi-religious Country, setting an example of tolerance and mutual respect among the various religious groups that make up its people. Another strength is the participation of women in politics. The number of women in Government, Parliament and in senior administration positions has risen, reaching a percentage of about 35%.Mozambique has gone from the position in which it was fighting against poverty to the implementation of an ambitious project of economic growth, achieving a growth rate which is above the average for Africa and other emerging Countries. In the next few years, the GDP is estimated to grow at a rate above 4%, in spite of the difficult economic cycle due mostly to the drop in the prices of raw materials and hydrocarbons. At a moment like the present one when Libya is at the centre of our thoughts, the example set by Mozambique - of a peace that seemed impossible to achieve - can be, if not a model, at least a stimulus for the Libyan people to conclude a political agreement that will ensure stability and bring back investments and prosperity. At the same time, however, Mozambique remains an emblematic Country in that we have contributed to its pacification and assisted in its development, even if it did not always receive the right economic and commercial attention when it started to grow at a faster and faster pace.Suffice it to look at the export data: for Italy, Mozambique is only the 130th Country of destination for our exports (while for Mozambique we are the fifth Country of destination for their products). We need to take more assertive action in order to step up and make a quantum leap in our economic and commercial relationships, also in order to help Mozambique boost its growth. On the one hand, thanks to the experience of ENI, Italy will continue to invest in the Country and contribute to the diversification of its economy. The very presence of ENI has a major effect of attracting the business and investment choices of many Italian small and medium sized enterprises in the various sectors: from agro-industry to tourism, transport, construction and services. On the other hand, Africa has taken on a key importance in our growth diplomacy, that we commonly call economic diplomacy. In recent times I have asked Italian diplomacy to look more towards the African continent and to its more dynamic Countries, like Mozambique.In line with this strategy, we will live up to our commitments in the area of development diplomacy in which Italian Cooperation is a major player in conjunction with many organizations of civil society, with NGOs and with the Comunità di Sant'Egidio itself. From 1982 to the present day, funds have been donated to Mozambique for a value of almost one billion euros (890 m).
And last but not least, is the Italy-Mozambique Program that was initiated in 2015 and will be completed in 2018 with an allocation of 100 million euros (98.9 m) for investments in priority areas such as health, rural development and education. We must invest in Africa to ensure peace and stability, but also in the national interest of generating growth and employment for our people. Encouraging investments in Mozambique is therefore an action that is consistent with our foreign policy which has Africa as a top priority. But it is also a way of inviting our businesses not to miss out on the opportunities that others have long been making the most of.My message therefore is to do more together - Government, diplomacies, businesses, civil society - in order to collect the dividends of peace and reap the benefits of the great ties of friendship between Italy and Mozambique.