On June 2, 1946 Italy chose to be a Republic, closing its monarchical history which had lasted for eighty-five years. Today we celebrate our belonging to a Nation: we are called to trace the history of the Italian Republic and to draw lessons and encouragement for the future.
On this special occasion, I would like to highlight the importance of the relations between Italy and Romania: I believe that in Europe there are no countries as close to each other as ours. Although not geographically contiguous, Rome and Bucharest are linked by deep historical roots, still very evident in their languages, values and culture. In the past years, our dialogue was strengthened by the already lively and successful presence of Italian investors in Romania and the great social and cultural contribution given by about a million Romanians who chose Italy as their “second home.” Today, Italy and Romania are partners in the European Union, which provides an additional framework to strengthen the bilateral dialogue and to develop further their socio-cultural and economic path.
I would like to recall some numbers which show the deepness of our relations: Italy is the second commercial partner of Romania and the first Country according to the number of registered companies (almost 40.000, out of which half are active). In 2013 about 2.000 new Italian companies started new businesses here. The bilateral commercial exchange reached 11.4 billion euros in 2012 and 11.7 billion euros in 2013. These figures represent thousands of Italians who work and contribute to the development of Romania: it is an aspect that we are committed to value in our daily contacts with the Romanian institutions, in a joint effort with the other Italian actors present here. The challenge we face is to make Italy better equipped to compete internationally and to propose an image of a modern, efficient and competitive Country, of a Nation open to the world.
Furthermore, I would like to stress the cultural similarities that I have mentioned above, similarities based on sharing the same Latin roots which, in some ways, can be considered both the premise and the result of our excellent bilateral relations.
Just to provide some data, in Romania we count five high schools with bilingual teachers coming from Italy and five universities that host Italian lectors; in Bucharest there is also the private primary and secondary school “Aldo Moro”. Italian is widely spoken by a large part of the population (whose relatives often live in our Country).
Italy aims at strengthening its international exposure. This is the main focus of our future activities, in a direction marked by two major events: Italy will hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union, from July 1 to December 31 this year; in 2015, Milan will host the Universal Exhibition dedicated to the theme “Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life.” The Italian EU Semester comes at a crucial moment in the life of the European Institutions, immediately after the elections of the European Parliament: Italy will be called to play a leading role and to ensure continuity while injecting to the EU policies the right degree of innovation, which is highly needed to respond to major internal and international challenges. In Romania, the Italian Embassy – in collaboration with the other Italian Institutions present here – has set the ambitious goal of offering a rich program of events. Regarding the EXPO in Milan, we are very happy that Romania has decided to take part in such an initiative and to present its great artistic, natural and economic treasures, always keeping an eye on nutrition, the central theme of the Exhibition. I am sure that Romania, with its endless plains and wild mountains, the Danube Delta and its booming agriculture (to mention only some key aspects) will take this opportunity to deliver the best image of itself in front of an international audience.
In conclusion, I would like to express my sincere gratitude, also on behalf of my colleagues working at the Italian Embassy, to all Italian citizens involved in Romania in various sectors (economic, cultural, social), who contribute to the prestige of our Country in a particularly delicate time when – after years of deep economic crisis and civic disaffection – we need everyone’s energy to restart growth and to build a better Europe. I would like to reassure all the Italian citizens living, working and studying in Romania that the work of the Italian Embassy in Bucharest is characterized by a strong institutional commitment and by the willingness to assist all of them. In conclusion, I would like to extend my gratitude to our Romanian friends, from whom I receive continuous and sincere expressions of esteem and admiration for our culture and whom I consider, without hesitation, reliable and solid partners.
Happy Republic Day to all!