A year has elapsed since we last celebrated the Italian national Day in Bucharest. A year that was definitely intense for everyone, but especially – let me say – for Romania: initially with the celebrations of the centennial of the Great Union and then with their first semester of presidency of the EU Council and lastly with the recent visit of His Holiness Pope Francesco.
On all such occasions Romania has done – and is doing – an excellent job!
It was an intense year for bilateral relations as well: the State visit of President Iohannis to Italy last October reconfirmed “the special character of bilateral relations”. It was the first State visit to Italy since the revolution of 1989; the first visit of a democratically elected Romanian Head of State ever. Labelling it as “historical”, therefore, is not an overstatement.
The President of the Republic of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, at the State dinner offered on October 15th, stated inter alia:
“Romania ardently wanted to be European – since it is of Latin stock – ever since its gradual emergence as a state. The long and painful experience of the communist regime hindered for almost half a century this natural inclination that was fully achieved only after the Revolution, when it took the road that resulted in Romania joining the North Atlantic and European families from 2004 to 2007. (…) True collaboration between states is built only through bonds between peoples, and only by putting the European citizenship at the forefront will we be able to jointly strengthen the vision of a Europe that bears concrete and real rights and values for all. Freedom of movement and residence represent the cornerstone of the Union, allowing the peoples that form it to fully experience the European dimension. Our communities that live each of them on the territory of the other country mostly rely on stable presences, a tangible sign of confidence in the future and of a closeness that goes beyond the excellent level of relations between our countries. Our strategic partnership (…) is the starting point and at the same time the consequence of this mutual trust, being also reflected in the intense exchanges between our peoples, between our systems of production and between our cultures. I express the wish that these exchanges may receive further incentives, in the next future, from the accession of Romania to the Schengen area.”
Mutual trust is what defines our relations, indeed. Both in economy and in the political arena. Though we are all very much focused on the future of Europe after the recent elections – Romania especially, holding the rotating presidency – this mutual trust is giving more and more fruits:
According to all economic indicators, we are among the top countries in terms of presence and investments in Romania. The commercial exchange between Italy and Romania in 2018 reached the record value of 15.51 billion euro, (+6% compared to 2017). Romania exported to Italy goods valued around 7.74 billion euro (+11% compared to 2017), while import from Italy reached the value of 7.77 billion euro (+ 2,6% compared to the previous year).
In a word, economic, industrial, commercial ties are still growing, a concrete sign of the mutual trust that President Mattarella evoked.
More and more Italian companies are investing in this country. Their number is already in the tens of thousands Italy being the fourth largest contributors to the global stock of foreign investments, with 4.7 billion Euros. Of course, entrepreneurs seek profits, but an investment is not a zero-sum game, in which each participant’s gain is balanced by the losses of the other. Investments create richness, despite whatever old-fashioned nationalistic rhetoric of the evil multinationals that come and exploit the country. The outcome is that our economies, all the more since Romania entered the European Union, are more and more integrated, thus contributing to our mutual growth.
Once again, “mutual” is the word. Mutual trust, mutual growth, mutual interest. And I would add mutually compatible views on the future of Europe, as proved also during this engaging, crucial semester.
Finally yet importantly, I would like to mention security cooperation: a shared concern should lead to a common endeavour.
That is the rationale behind the participation of the Italian Armed Forces in the Multinational Brigade South East and – right in these days and months – of four fighter-jets of the Italian Air Force in the Enhanced Air Policing Operation.
Once more, as already in Afghanistan, Italian and Romanian soldiers work side-by-side to ensure security at home and peace abroad. To them, as to all Italians in Romania, my most heartfelt greeting on our National Day, along with my best wishes for the prosperity of our two countries.