Seventy-six years ago, on the 2nd of June 1946, the Italian people, called for the first time to a universal suffrage vote, chose the Republic over Monarchy, thus turning a crucial page in the history of the Nation, getting over the horrors and tragedies of twenty years of dictatorship and the Second World War, setting the Institutional framework for the development of a genuinely democratic society, based on the recognition of human rights and on the preeminence of freedom and social justice.
The celebration of such a meaningful occurrence gives also the opportunity to highlight the friendship and mutual trust between Italy and Romania and to consider the depth and scope of our special bilateral relations.
The past has shaped the fertile ground of shared history and culture in which our excellent partnership is firmly rooted; the present is showing how Italy and Romania have grown to be, during the years, strong partners and allies, facing side by side the many global challenges of the contemporary world.
With regard to our political dialogue, it has gained momentum during the last few months. I would like in particular to recall the visit to Bucharest by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Luigi Di Maio, whose fruitful meetings with President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu have contributed to highlight the closeness of our positions on many dossiers and the joint commitment to further enhance our cooperation. We are currently working on a new and broader Declaration on the strategic partnership in order to have an updated and effective instrument to foster new bilateral projects and to contribute to the main issues of the European and global agenda. Visits to Romania by Ministers of Labour, Andrea Orlando and Defence, Lorenzo Guerini, by the Parliamentary Friendship Group with Romania, as well as the mission to Rome by Minister of Health Alexandru Rafila and the participation by Minister of Culture Romascanu to the upcoming Euro-Mediterranean Culture Ministerial meeting in Naples are all but relevant examples of the variety and width of our partnership.
The quality of the bilateral cooperation has indeed emerged in the hard circumstances our Countries have been forced to face in the last years and months. The pandemic has shown the importance and concreteness of solidarity and mutual support in times of crisis. During the hardest waves of the pandemic, Italy has donated to Romania monoclonal antibodies and Covid patients’ treatment and shared information on the organisational model of the vaccination campaign. The Russian aggression to Ukraine, dense of security, economic and humanitarian consequences, has again proved the consistency of our friendship. We have admired the extraordinary effort that Romanian authorities, civil society and ordinary citizens have put in place since the very beginning of the war to help refugees from Ukraine; I have been proud to witness the delivery of the very first humanitarian aid to Ukraine transiting through the EU hub in Suceava, organized by the Italian Civil Protection. Italy is also on the side of Romania by contributing to its security, with hundreds of women and men and eight fighters of our Air Forces engaged in air policing activities from the Mihail Kogălniceanu base in Constanta. The decision of the Italian government to extend the “Black Storm” Task Force Air mission is emblematic of the attention we attach to the Black Sea region security, as a key area for the safety of Europe and the Alliance as a whole.
Besides, Italy stands close to Romania in many respects: as a staunch supporter of its access to Schengen and to the OECD as in the framework of the common NATO endeavour to guarantee security and stability to the south-eastern flank. This certifies the commitment to this country and the region, gate of Europe and first bastion to protect democratic countries and market economies.
The ambition to further deepen our dialogue on all the topics relevant to prosperity, resilience and welfare of our citizens meets the need of nurturing a political cooperation up to the level of our outstanding economic partnership. In this domain it is important to stress how well balanced is our bilateral trade, which has reached in 2021 an overall value of 16 Billion Euros (with a 16% increase over the previous year), with 8.7 Billion Euros of exports ad 7.8 of imports – sign of integrated value chains. Italy, besides being both second client and supplier of Romania, is the first investor for number of projects and registered companies (more than 23.000) and second overall in investments’ stock, which now totals 9 Billion Euros; our economic presence is extremely varied and widespread, from agriculture to infrastructures, from financial services to energy production and distribution, from healthcare to high tech, thanks to a mix of SMEs ad Multinational groups which have been able to create more than 130.000 jobs.
Such complementarity among the two economic systems would not be possible without a deep cultural affinity between our peoples and a growing network of social interactions. A great role is being played, in this regard, by the Romanian community in Italy (more than 1 million people), which stands as a best practice of integration in the Italian socio-economic fabric, and a strategic asset for both Italian and Romanian economies.
We are committed to build up on these lively human relations in order to strengthen our cultural cooperation: the high demand of Italian culture and lifestyle by the Romanian public that I noticed since my arrival to Bucharest should be met with a cultural offer apt to showcase the contemporary and vibrant expressions of Italian creativity, from music to cinema, from visual arts to design, from literature to fashion. Equally important for us is the promotion of the Italian language in a particularly fertile and receptive environment, as an instrument to bridge our cultures but also as an asset on the job markets.
In this vein, I wish to highlight two important initiatives coordinated by the Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute: the Film Festival “Nuovo Cinema Italiano in Romania” which was held last March, to introduce to the Romanian public the latest movies of Italian authors and producers; and the extraordinary concert of the Orchestra G. Rossini of Pesaro at the Romanian Atheneum, to celebrate the closing of the Italian Presidency of the Council of Europe. We are confident to be able to propose further events and accompany the flourishing waves of social and cultural dates throughout Bucharest and the country.
I would finally like to express my congratulations on the Italian National Day to all Italian citizens living in Romania. During my first year as Ambassador in Bucharest I have had the chance to meet many of them involved with remarkable dedication in several economic activities, in cultural and academic institutions, in volunteering and social projects. I deeply admire the extremely valuable contribution they give every day, through their efforts and passion, to both our Countries.
To all of them and to our Romanian friends and partners let me wish “buona Festa della Repubblica”!