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2 giugno 2019, Festa Nazionale della Repubblica - Discorso dell'Ambasciatore



2 giugno 2019, Festa Nazionale della Repubblica - Discorso dell'Ambasciatore

Italian Ambassador speech at the Italian day reception 3rd June 2019



A very sad occurrence for an Italian Ambassador appointed in Zambia is the moment when he has to say “goodbye”. This will happen at the end of July.
Our nearly 4 years in this wonderful Country have been a rich and unforgettable experience both professionally and personally, for me as well as for Martina and our three children. We will miss Zambia, we will miss the Zambian people and all the friends we have made. Thanks to everybody for the support I have always received: I have been spoiled by your kindness and cooperation.
However, today we are celebrating the Italian National day.
73 years ago, Italy was a Country severely destroyed by a terrible war. If you look at pictures or movies taken in Italy in 1946 you would be surprised to see an under-developed country with whole large families traveling in truck trailers or moving by a single bicycle, and later a Vespa motorbike. The country was affected by overwhelming poverty and by terrible inequalities in the area of nutrition, health, sanitation, education and quality of life. The strong demographic growth and the insufficient availability of jobs forced millions of Italians to migrate.
However, the 2nd of June 1946 through a referendum the Italians decided that Italy should be a Republic. It was an important electoral consultation, not least because for the first time in my country women were allowed to cast their vote, but also because this important decision coincided with the beginning of a national rebirth:
- politically, through the restoration of democracy, the reconciliation of people divided by a bloody and ideological civil war, and the appointment of accountable governments respecting the fundamental rights like democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of opinion;
- economically, because in a single decade the Italians managed to restore cities, infrastructure and bring back production capacity. Italy’s economy became one of the largest in Europe, excelling worldwide in a lot of fields.
What made possible this rapid recovery was the skill of the people in the framework of a performing private sector that was not affected, like today, by an overspending of the State. The outcome was growth and gradually improvement of the living conditions for the majority of the population. We had a lot of challenges like corruption and organized criminality but our law enforcing institutions always prevailed. Coalition governments and mechanism allowing consultation with stake holders, like businessmen, finance, unions, favored a more in-depth consideration of all the implication before taking any decision.
I believe that streamlining the story of my Country, you realize how important it has been to invest in human capital. This type of investments is so long term – the time of a child to reach the adult age - that maybe the politicians have sometimes difficulties even in Italy to concentrate on it. However, improving the quality of human capital is essential especially for a country like Zambia that has to meet the needs of its fast-growing population. In this framework vocational training, quality education offered to all, even in remote areas, as well as a more targeted teaching to give the right skill and to trigger capacities, is condition to generate innovation, creativity, capacity to make enterprise and to make culture. The marvelous and smart young people of this country deserve that. This, I believe, should be the priority number one, a priority more urgent than any others.
In the frame of our partnership with Zambia, Italy’s membership of European Union is essential. Only a strong and dynamic Europe, enhanced by the cohesion of its member States, has the political and the economic weight to be a critical partner of Zambia. Only a common undertaking of Europe and its member countries could effectively support Zambia to achieve its targets of development and promote shared values.
In my nearly 4 years of service as diplomat in Zambia I have been particularly committed to strengthen institutional partnership between Italy and Zambia. Year consultations between Ministry of Foreign Affairs at high official level are today a praxis. Institutional cooperation in the area of veterinary service, health, antiterrorism, forest and wild life protection, as well as competition policy are under way. The most important achievement is the cooperation in the area of environment, brought by the MoU between the Italian Minister of Environment and the Zambian Minister of Planning. It will allow the funding of bankable projects mainly in the area of climate adaptation.
In the area of trade and direct investments promotion let me mention that for the first time at Agritech figured an Italian national stand and that for the 3rd time a Zambian delegation attended the MacFrut fair in Rimini, with impressive results in the area of partnership and investments. Moreover 2 weeks ago the Enel Green Power photovoltaic plant in Lusaka South Multifacility Zone has started producing energy for Zesco and another Italian Company, Building Energy, got 2 lots of the GetFit program proposing the best possible tariff ever: under 4 cents.
Between Zambia and Italy what matters very much is the human factor: since the Karriba dam an Italian community made of individuals and families has been contributing to the development of this country: their work and their skill honored Italy in Zambia creating friendship and mutual respect. A Committed Italian civil society serves in this Country dealing with poverty, diseases, handicaps, and fragility. It is composed of NGO of Religious congregations of the Diocesan Fathers serving into the Lusaka and Monza Dioceses. I would like to commend the women and men who serve in the frame of this solidarity. A very timely workshop organized by the EU Delegation on Social Enterprises supported this action as the resources available are always insufficient. I would like also to commend the Japanese Development Cooperation (JICA) - and my friend the Japanese Ambassador Hidenobu Sobashima, that few weeks ago very generously donated a modern and very expensive radiology equipment to the Mtendere Mission Hospital in Chirundu managed by the Sisters of Charity from Milan. It will do a lot of good in an area where there are no other health services available.
I am finally very happy to announce that in few days we will launch the new Zambia Committee of the Società Dante Alighieri: this large and old institution promoting the Italian language around the world will have in Lusaka a platform to support the learning of Italian language.
A last remark has to do with culture and I would like to mention in particular my French colleague Sylvain Berger with whom we have worked and suffered a lot in the last years! It is a matter of fact that Zambians have enormous talents in visual and non-visual art. It is important to develop these skills and not only for purely economic reasons. I believe that upscaling cultural capacity is a mean to further connect Zambia with the world: allowing a two-way free circulation and competition of ideas, of artistic creations, innovations and design. I believe that also in this framework Europe could be a partner of Zambia and I am extremely happy that during the Europe month in May we have managed to organize a Euro Zambia Art Festival. Italy proposed the famous Piccolo Theatre from Milano that performed a workshop on Commedia dell’Arte with local actors and a final work presentation. It looks that Commedia dell’Arte, this XV century Italian street theatre based on mask, improvisation, comedy and body expressiveness was perfectly interpreted by local actors. We appreciated very much the media coverage that ZNBC gave to the event.
In conclusion, after many years of work in Zambia, so many memories, wishes, projects come to mind. I love this Country, I will continue supporting it from Europe, I thank all the people with whom I have been working with, my brothers and sisters from other Embassies and the EU Ambassador with whom I share both a national and European bond.
I thank all the people who have supported the organization of this event and in particularly my wife Martina who made this Reception Exceptional, all the Italian Embassy Staff always working hard at my side, and the Italian Restaurants in Lusaka which prepared the delicious food we offer you today: Il Rosso, La Piazzetta, La Bottega, The Palace Hotel, Eataly Pizzeria and GigiBonta’, San Marino Bakery and DoTo wine and food Import.
Enjoy with us, and with all Italian people our National Day!