(fa fede solo il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
the Conference that opens today, thanks to the generous support of the Third World Academy of Sciences, marks Italy’s continuing efforts to strengthen cultural and scientific cooperation in Afghanistan and the region to which it belongs. This event complements the G8 outreach session at foreign ministry level dedicated to Afghanistan and surrounding area currently under way here in Trieste.
Italy is proud of its deep ties with this region. Since the 1950s, our archaeological and anthropological missions have been a non-colonial presence there signaling our enduring affection for the traditions, cultures and extraordinary works of art that we have helped restore to the eyes of the world. It is for this reason also, combined with the great passion that Italian enterprises have known for its landscapes and mountains since the early 20th century, that we have felt we could contribute to fostering peace and stabilization. Italy, therefore, knows and respects this region.
And so, we have decided to commemorate this Italian adventure in the DVD entitled “EAST MEETS WEST, An Italian Journey in Asia: the development of a regional network of cultural and scientific cooperation”. We have decided to dedicate this tribute to our forefathers, and at the same time stand beside our many young people who have also chosen to contribute to building peace, with this DVD.
Today’s meeting aims to provide local and international players an opportunity for dialogue. Researchers, universities, international organizations, international scientific centres, as well as institutional representatives will gather to discuss how to strengthen scientific and technological cooperation as key-factors in regional stabilization and economic growth.
The stabilisation of Afghanistan and the entire region is one of the most topical challenges facing the international community today. The Afghan question poses a series of tests by which to gauge the status of the fight against terrorism, the credibility of NATO, the transatlantic relationship, the possibility of fruitful cooperation with Russia, the stabilisation of Pakistan and the region as a whole, and the European Union’s global role.
The recent American policy review marked a turning point for the international community’s commitment in Afghanistan. We now have clearer goals and priorities. Our strategy is mainly based on three concepts: (1) a comprehensive approach, (2) the regional dimension and (3) ownership.
(1) Comprehensive approach - Although security is the first step, the solution to the Afghan question cannot be a military one. The international community must increasingly target the civilian aspects of the crisis, and multiply its efforts at institution–building and economic recovery.
(2) Ownership - The Afghan authorities and people also need to be encouraged to assume greater responsibility. A solution to the Afghan conflict can only be the result of a more comprehensive and internal process emerging from the region itself, instead of being driven from outside. In this respect, the Afghan elections to be held in August—the first wholly conducted by the Afghan authorities—will mark a crucial step.
(3) Regional cooperation – The enormous potential for regional cooperation has thus far not been adequately exploited. Cooperation in areas like border and customs issues, trade promotion, infrastructures, energy, market access, labour migration and, last but not least, cultural and scientific cooperation, needs to be effectively approached from a regional angle.
As far Italy is concerned, we are making a major contribution to stabilising the country and the entire region at every level: security, institution-building, economic development, and cultural dialogue. More specifically, we have deployed a contingent that will be boosted to over 3,000 troops at election time. As for civilian and economic aspects, Italy has allocated considerable financing, amounting to approximately 400 million euro, for assistance to Afghan institutions and populations. More importantly, Italy is also playing a leading role in training Afghan security forces.
Today’s international conference fits perfectly into this strategy and responds to our appeal for greater regional ownership and the development of a sense of collective identity. Research and science have prepared men to face major challenges using shared rules and languages. And when our differences cease to be an opportunity for encounter and are transformed into misunderstanding, inequality and enmity, science remains the only common language, the only indiscriminately hospitable terrain. That is why this can and must be our point of departure.
Italy is firmly convinced that science and culture represent a common heritage for mankind, especially in the age of globalization, and contribute to breaking down the barriers to sustainable development. Exchanges among experts, academics, intergovernmental organizations and civil society of best practices, know-how, technologies and skills is the best way to build a long-lasting scientific network.
Indeed, only a long-term approach - based on a “people-to-people contact” strategy – will enable development policies to take root deeply inside multicultural societies, and to facilitate national and regional stabilization through intercultural dialogue.
We are fully convinced that cultural and scientific cooperation with the countries of the region is one of the best tools to achieve progress and stability. That is why Italy has promoted a wide range of initiatives in these sectors, in close cooperation with local players.
We have financed training courses in the preservation and restoration of cultural treasures, in collaboration with the Kabul authorities, as well as archaeological missions in the areas of Ghazni and Kabul. In keeping with the high priority that Italy attributes to human capital investments, the Italian government awarded Afghan students 230 scholarships in 2008-2009 and 200 scholarships in 2009-2010. The Universities of Kabul and Herat have also received financial contributions for Italian language instructors.
Two joint projects were carried out in Pakistan this year—the first in the field of environmental protection and the fight against desertification, and the second in the field of Earth Sciences. Italy is also financing two major archaeological missions in the areas of Barikot and Udegram.
The global society—and the collective challenge that comes along with it—is demanding prompt, effective and integrated responses. Therefore, Italy is also committed to enhancing the multilateral cooperation programmes of international organizations: the UNESCO, UNIDO and NATO representatives, who are among today’s speakers, will surely illustrate these programmes in greater detail.
Scientists around world share common goals and their mission is the same: to improve the lives of people on Earth, regardless of race, creed or political persuasion. This is why we strongly believe that scientific cooperation can make a unique contribution to the cause of regional stabilization.
Therefore, the main goal of this Conference is to improve coordination between existing academies and organizations and to develop new partnerships, by focusing on the support to be given to scientific research. Today’s debate will surely make clearer how universities, academies, institutions and even industrial systems can share the same purposes, and work in harmony, each in its specific field of activity.
I wish to assure the conference’s participants, who are investing their time, energy and efforts to reinforcing regional cooperation in science and culture, that Italy will continue to provide its convinced support to local development, encouraging joint action plans that may receive further impetus from the contribution of the excellent scientific think-tank based in Trieste.
Indeed, as you all know, this splendid city is host to a prestigious scientific hub, which includes four international centres, namely:
• the International Centre for Science and Advanced Technology (ICS-UNIDO),
• the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB),
• the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and, last but not least,
• the Third World Academy of Science, to which I would like to express my deep gratitude for having made this important event possible.
Trieste is a model of integration for a variety of organizations that have been working for many years, gathering students and researchers from a wide range of countries and that will surely go on to develop further synergies in the future.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the current global context, it is crucial to focus international community’s attention on the importance of culture and science for development, especially with a view to strengthening the partnership between the public and private sectors.
This Conference will, hopefully, give us all an excellent opportunity to reflect on and discuss the proper direction to take in collective efforts at fostering growth, progress and regional stabilization.