POLITICS

‘Ties between Italy and Romania are getting stronger and stronger’

Interview with the Ambassador of Italy, Mario Cospito.

Your Excellency, Italy has just celebrated its National Day on June 2. What is the significance attached to this day in Italian history?


On June the 2nd we celebrated the 64th Anniversary of the 1946Referendum. On that date Italy, after twenty years of dictatorship and five years of war, chose to become a Republic. Since then, sixty four years of remarkable geopolitical, socio-economical and cultural transformations of the European continent have passed. Italy has crossed this period aiming at achieving a consolidation of democracy, peace, and prosperity in Europe and all over the world.

What does Italy’s presence in the world consist of?


With more than 300 diplomatic representations abroad and more than one thousand diplomats, Italy today avails itself of one of the most extended diplomatic networks in the world. Such a presence contributes to promote the political, cultural and economic image of our country, its values and the fight for human rights. Member of the G8 and the G20, sixth contributor to the budget of the United Nations, founding member of the European Union, relevant contributor with its own military forces to peacekeeping operations, Italy faces the actual global challenges aiming at participating to the creation of a common European space.

How would you describe the present state of Italian-Romanian relations?


Within the European family, ties between Italy and Romania are getting stronger and stronger. A bilateral relation which has ancient origins: the common Latin roots, the belonging of part of their territories to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the birth of our national states almost at the same time (Romania in 1859 and Italy in 1861), the economic miracle of the ‘90 of the last century, which allowed the Italian entrepreneurial system to spread all over Romania starting from Timisoara. A mutual bond which has been enriched by the important Romanian presence in our country: officially about 1.000.000 units, Romanian workers represent today by large the first foreign community in Italy. This extraordinary blend of historical, political, economic and social relations represents a mutual advantage, as shown by the strong Italian support to the Romanian EU accession. We recall the fact that Italy had been the main supporter of accession of Romania to the EU, especially in difficult moments. It could not be otherwise, considering the strong friendship between the two countries and the common interests for a certain part of the European continent (Western Balkans and Eastern Europe).

What is the significance of today’s visit of Mr. Gianni Alemanno, the Mayor of Rome?


First of all, this official visit intends to be a further sign of friendship towards Romania. We all know how important Rome and its ancient culture are for this country. The name “Romania” speaks for itself! In this respect the Mayor of Rome is coming to inaugurate, together with the Mayor of Bucharest, the new setting of the Roman Lupa Capitolina near Strada Lipscani. The Capitoline Wolf, a gift donated by the city of Rome more than one hundred years ago, has been restored, thanks to the contribution of Unimpresa Romania (an association of Italian entrepreneurs doing business here in Romania). Mr Alemanno is also coming to strengthen the relations with Romania and with Bucharest. For this reason, talks with Mr Prime Minister Boc and with Mr Oprescu are on the agenda.

How deep is now the political co-operation between Romania and Italy?


There is solid and fruitful co-operation. Italy has always seen the potential of Romania as a growing and influential player on the European scene and it is encouraging it through factual support on some important issues (like, i.e., joining the Schengen area and the Eurozone and lifting the Mechanism of Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for the judiciary and the fight against corruption) with the aim of strengthening the bilateral partnership also on tackling the global challenges faced by the European Union.


In this context of solid cooperation, the Italian Embassy, together with the Italian Institute of Foreign Trade and in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute and the Italian Chamber of Commerce for Romania, has organised this year a rich programme of events during the period May 18 – June 16 in Bucharest in order to celebrate the Italian National day (www.festivalitalian.ro).


It is a tribute to our strong bilateral relations and an occasion for further strengthening of these relations. The participation of various institutes, companies, Italian associations and Romanian friends to the organisation and the success of these events is a litmus test of the attention that the “Sistema Italia” grants to this country and represents another relevant step towards the priority objective set at the beginning of my mission: working in order to have more Italy in Romania.

To what extent have the relations between Italy and Romania been affected by the economic crisis?


The Italian-Romanian partnership represents an important instrument able to detect opportunities arising from globalisation and face the negative effects produced by the economic crisis. The economic dynamism is crystal-clear if we take into consideration data and statistics: 28,000 Italian companies registered in Romania producing about 10% of Romanian GDP, offering working opportunities to about 800,000 Romanian citizens. Such an activity contributed to improve the bilateral trade with Italy, reaching almost 10 billion Euro of exchange at the end of 2009, notwithstanding the bitter effect of the World economic crisis. In recent years important companies (such as Enel, ENI-Agip, Pirelli etc.) and banks (Unicredit, Intesa, Veneto Banca etc.) entered the Romanian market strengthening the already existent bilateral economic relations; 24 Italian cities are linked to 12 Romanian cities by 450 direct flights that take off and land every week, whereas more than 3,000 trucks and buses daily cross the borders of the two countries.


Such a level of exchanges, investments and opportunities could not be reached by the so-called “Sistema Italia” without the precious support of the Romanian authorities. I am convinced that this successful union of interests will last with the same strength in the future, allowing our countries to enjoy the mutual benefits of our interrelated economies.

Do you see any other fields where the co-operation between Romania and Italy can be strengthened?


Yes. The dynamism already mentioned in the economic sector can also be noticed in the social areas. About 50 NGOs and Italian catholic associations operate in Romania on behalf of the poor and those who are in need. Their activity, led with extraordinary engagement and in strict cooperation with the Romanian institutions, gives a further evidence of the wide range of bilateral relations existent between the two countries. Romania and Italy have been until now solid economic partners but we cannot limit our relationship to bilateral trade and economy. We need much more Italy in Romania and this is the main goal of my mandate as Ambassador of Italy in this Country.


General Mayor Oprescu awarded ‘Italian Solidarity Star’


Bucharest General Mayor Sorin Oprescu was awarded with the Italian Solidarity Star order, Grand Officer, on Wednesday, on occasion of Italy’s National Day celebrations, Agerpres reports. Oprescu thanked Italian Ambassador Mario Cospito for the high distinction and underlined the good collaboration between the two countries, including on local administration level, between Bucharest and Rome.


“I want to thank the Italian embassy for how it collaborates with us to develop projects that are for the Romanian capital’s use and for the biggest Romanian community in Italy,” Oprescu said. The event was attended among others by Senate Speaker Mircea Geoana and Economy Minister Adriean Videanu.


Oprescu is also scheduled to have meetings with Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, who will be on a two-day visit to Bucharest on Friday and Saturday, the City Hall said in a press release.


The new setting of the Roman Lupa Capitolina


What is the significance of today’s visit of Mr. Gianni Alemanno, the Mayor of Rome?


First of all, this official visit intends to be a further sign of friendship towards Romania. We all know how important Rome and its ancient culture are for this country. The name “Romania” speaks for itself! In this respect the Mayor of Rome is coming to inaugurate, together with the Mayor of Bucharest, the new setting of the Roman Lupa Capitolina near Strada Lipscani. The Capitoline Wolf, a gift donated by the city of Rome more than one hundred years ago, has been restored, thanks to the contribution of Unimpresa Romania (an association of Italian entrepreneurs doing business here in Romania). Mr Alemanno is also coming to strengthen the relations with Romania and with Bucharest. For this reason, talks with Mr Prime Minister Boc and with Mr Oprescu are on the agenda.

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