The Forum for the Future provides an important concertation instrument for the partners of the G8, the Arab League, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey to confront regional issues and crisis situations. Therefore, in light of the up-coming Italian G8 presidency, I welcomed the opportunity to speak at this year’s edition, which was generously hosted by the UAE, a country to which Italy is bound by deep friendship.
My presence in Abu Dhabi is also a sign of the importance that Italy attributes to this country and region.
In keeping with the vision of a peninsula bridging the Mediterranean between continental Europe, the southern shores and the Middle East, Italy is pursuing the development of a Euro-Mediterranean co-operation that fully involves the Gulf countries as well, with a view to exploiting all the opportunities offered by that concept of “enlarged Mediterranean” that also underpins the newly created Union for the Mediterranean.
The Gulf has taken on strategic political and economic importance for Europe and for Italy. In addition to its key regional role in terms of energy sources, we are perfectly aware that the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council represent an increasingly structured and modern economic/financial power and share a global political dynamism far superior to that of the past. In this regard I would particularly like to underscore the UAE’s especially active role within the framework of the partnership between the G8 and Broader Middle East and North Africa.
I also believe that the time has come to accelerate relations between the European Union and the Gulf countries through the rapid conclusion of a free-trade agreement, an objective that carries a high priority and that Italy is working to achieve as soon as possible. In terms of reinforcing relations between Europe and the Gulf countries, developing the idea of an enlarged Mediterranean and, finally, the quest for a solution to the many open issues concerning the Middle East, Italy knows it can rely on the model of equilibrium and calm openness to the challenges of modernity and progress that the UAE has set. On the strength of this conviction we shall not fail to continue to strengthen our excellent relation with one of the region’s key nations, within a context of political dialogue that has grown through numerous and everincreasing exchanges of visits.
While in Abu Dhabi I plan to review the main stages of this promising journey with General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and my colleague Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, taking the opportunity to outline together the next steps to take in the forging of ever closer and more strategic relations.