(fa fede solo il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
The CEI is a bridge between different European regions
The Central European Initiative is a bridge between different European regions. If we look closer to these regions, their citizens -our citizens- will reveal to us their strong sense of national and regional identity. The varieties of polities and traditions of our societies, the different legacies left by the various tides of our European history are the solid pillars, the points of strength of our continent.
However -as one of the founding fathers of the European Union, Alcide De Gasperi, used to stress- there is only a path to maintain that which is noble and human in national strengths, while coordinating them in the search for a supranational civilisation that can balance them. We can achieve this only by imbuing national strengths with our common ideals and by allowing them to operate in the variety of experience of our European civilisation. We can achieve this only by creating a meeting point where these experiences can come together so that we may take the best of them, inspired by the aim of greater liberty and greater social justice.
Towards the Western Balkans integration in the EU
The CEI may be a first meeting point where our different trajectories may find a convergence, starting from the universal validity of fundamental rights and our common commitment to tighter regional cooperation. The CEI can bring closer together EU countries, EU candidates and potential candidates and other members interested in cooperating with the EU. And mostly, the CEI can contribute to the strengthening of the relations between the EU and the Western Balkans, with a view to their full integration in the EU. This is a priority for Italy, since we are convinced that the enlargement of the EU has brought peace, security and economic prosperity.
However, we are aware of the deep meaning of regional cooperation in the Balkans, which is key to the process of full reconciliation between all these countries. We Italians know what it took to create a united Italy, where every town had learnt to hate its neighbour over long centuries. It was a much harder task to create Europe. The people of Europe have had to discard a whole world of prejudice, fear and resentment. Building upon this experience, we fostered the idea of an EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region, launched by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative in 2010 in Ancona and reiterated last May in Brussels by the Adriatic-Ionian Council.
The CEI can now operate as a bridge among the Danube, the Adriatic and Ionian, the Eastern Partnership regions, up to the Black Sea borders, to promote new forms of cooperation between macro-regions. To this end, the CEI should actively participate in the process of definition of EU strategies for the macro-regions. The involvement of the CEI in the EU Strategy for the Danube region marks a positive step.
Investments and scientific co-operation
The CEI is managing many EU projects for a total value of 20 million euros. This activity should be further implemented. In our view, the CEI should become the main partner of the EU in the management of its projects in the region. We support this ambition, which is in line with Budva recommendations. I would also like to mention the positive experience of the CEI-EBRD Trust Fund, entirely funded by Italy with 32.5 million euros. The Fund has generated international investments for almost 3 billion euros. The Fund at the EBRD is a model that should be replicated by other CEI Funds.
We should consider as well the opportunity to strengthen the scientific dimension of the CEI. Many CEI scientists have participated in exchange programmes in Trieste. The location of the Secretariat in Trieste is a fundamental asset, which we should fully exploit to promote more partnerships between Centres of excellence. We can be inspired by the extraordinary heritage of Trieste and Friuli Venezia Giulia, which have a long-standing history tied to the scientific progress of Central and Eastern Europe.
The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)
I would also like to stress the contribution of inter-regional cooperation to stability and security. I welcome the opportunity to promote, through the CEI, the transfer of know-how and best practices in the frame of the Proliferation Security Initiative. I am sure that the CEI Member States will support the efforts carried out by this initiative aimed at stopping illicit shipments of weapons of mass destruction, also dwelling on the expertise of the Trieste International School on Nuclear Security.
In conclusion, our presence today in Trieste confirms our intention to give further visibility to the CEI, in line with the Budva recommendations. To this regard, I want to thank Ambassador Pfantzelter for the outstanding work done. And I wish every success to the dynamic Serbian Presidency, while assuring our full cooperation and support.