Today we celebrate June the 2nd, the day the Italian people chose the Republic to rise from the ashes of the war. Every person must be free to choose his or her own destiny. Seventy-seven years after that referendum, with pride and passion we watch our tricolour flag being hoisted as a sign of freedom, democracy and equality.
The Italian Republic is founded on labour and draws inspiration from democratic values and universal rights that are part of our being Italian, guiding our daily life choices. My thoughts go to the women and men of our Institutions and to all the Compatriots who inspire their individual conduct and their social relationships to the values enshrined in our Constitution, not only in Italy but also here in Moldova, where we have an industrious community, widely present in this room tonight. My thoughts are with them, as well as with all teachers and students of Italian language and culture in Moldova. This year, female and male students, in three high schools and two universities, amount to over 2,200. About 200 more than last year. I thank them for having chosen, like me, to work on the promotion and development of the deep Italian-Moldovan friendship!
Today, like every day, my thoughts therefore are not only with our tricolour, but also with that of the Republic of Moldova and, with it, with the Moldovan institutions and citizens, whom I feel as our brothers and sisters, an integral part of the greatest European family to which, all together, we belong. It is certainly no coincidence that most of the Moldovan Diaspora in the world has chosen Italy as its second homeland. An Italian proverb says that "those who look alike, take each other".
On the occasion of the memorable reception offered by President Sandu to the Heads of State and Government for the EPC Summit, I was moved by the fact that most of the pieces chosen for the "Viva l'Europa" concert were by Italian authors: Puccini, Verdi, Pugnani. I was moved in hearing Beethoven performed by the extraordinary young Italian-Moldovan pianist Martina Meola, who sang "Fratelli d'Italia" in this very same room last year. I was moved in hearing the monumental Maestro Eugen Doga's "Ode to Europe" performed by the Serghei Lunchevici Philharmonic, admirably directed by Maestro Agafita. In short, I spent the evening in tears, but joyful ones.
Composed by Maestro Doga in May 2021, about a month after taking up my post in Chisinau, the "Ode to Europe" symbolizes the historical transition that the Moldovan people are experiencing. A deep and at the same time rapid transition.
It was only in June last year, with the full support of Italy, that Moldova acquired the status of candidate to the membership of the European Union. I watch with admiration the work that the Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Popescu, carries out every day with his team to complete each stage in record time, in the view of starting the accession negotiations as soon as possible.
Last month, together with Ambassador Mazeiks and other Ambassadors of "Team Europe" in Chisinau, on the occasion of the celebration of Europe Day, I had the honour and pleasure of taking the stage alongside Prime Minister Recean in front of a cheering crowd. Just a week later, I had the honour and pleasure, together with the Ambassadors of the other EU Member States and 80,000 exultant Moldovan citizens, to listen to and applaud the historic speeches of President Sandu and President Metsola on the future of Europe, which this wonderful country firmly, courageously and deservedly intends to build.
Moldova is not alone on its journey. Together with the other European States, Atlantic states and States from other parts of the world, Italy and the entire European Union are and will remain firmly by its side. We work as a team with the Government and many international institutions, starting with the UN and its numerous Agencies present here. Among others, the UNHCR, the UNDP, the IOM come to mind. I am proud of the fact that so many senior UN and EU officials in Moldova are Italian. I think for example, among many others, of Dr. Bonelli of the UNHCR, of Dr. Carlei of the EIB, of Dr. De Blasio of the EU.
We have faced and will continue to face all together – in political, financial and operational terms – the challenge of refugees, of energy, of internal and external security, of hybrid warfare, of justice reform, of customs procedures. On the energy issue, a technical arrangement is being finalized between Italy and the UNDP which, in line with Minister Parlicov's indications, will benefit the Moldovan people with an Italian contribution of ten million euros. We are not afraid of the coming winter. We will not neglect the development of renewable energies for the winters to come.
The extraordinary success recorded by the European Political Community Summit held last week in Castel Mimi, a beautiful wine complex renovated by the Italian architect Arnaldo Tranti, provides the measure of the importance that Moldova has today in Europe.
The presence of almost fifty Heads of State and Government, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for Italy, confirmed that not only does Moldova need the other European states, but that the opposite is also true. In a family, everyone needs everyone. Everyone is important and support must always be mutual. As it has been said by President Meloni - who, immediately after President Sandu and President Zelenski, spoke first among the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States - in the European Union there are no League One and League Two States; there are only Member States.
The large European family needs Moldova's contribution to make this regional area of Europe, geopolitically so relevant and precious, increasingly stable from a political and security point of view, increasingly prosperous from an economic and social point of view. Europe is helpful to Moldova and Moldova is helpful to Europe to ensure the security, well-being and development of all the peace-loving European peoples, among which the Moldovan people are rightfully included.
Peace is precious and must not be taken for granted. Not even in Europe unfortunately, as we well know. Not too far from here, the Ukrainian people are fighting with courage and determination to defend their territorial integrity and freedom of choice from aggression. I would like to remind that the EU Member States are all, at the same time, consumers and producers of international security, in Europe and in the rest of the world. Moldova, already now, is no different. I am thinking of its peacekeeping contingents deployed in UN and NATO missions entrusted to the Italian command. Moldovan soldiers in UNIFIL and KFOR are making an excellent contribution to international peace and security in Lebanon and Kosovo.
I was honoured to participate in the ceremony held on the occasion of the departure to Beirut of the Moldovan platoon in UNIFIL, together with President Sandu, Minister Nosatii and our Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Cavo Dragone. On the 29th of May, in Kosovo, together with their Italian colleagues, some Moldovan soldiers were also injured to protect the civilian population. We have to thank them for that. Their professionalism and level of training prevented worst-case scenarios.
When I think of bilateral cooperation in matters of security, I cannot fail to mention, thanks to Minister Revenco, also the excellent cooperation between our police forces, including the cooperation between the Italian and Moldovan Carabinieri, which I hope will soon take further steps in the spirit of the European integration. It is also in this spirit that, tonight, I am proud to see the two Italian Carabinieri on duty at the Embassy lined up alongside the Moldovan Carabinieri band, which performed our national anthems and our European anthem.
Moldova has become an important security hub for all of Europe. We are all grateful to the Moldovan Border Police who, together with FRONTEX colleagues including some Italian police officers, in addition to assisting refugees prevent various types of illicit trafficking from reaching the territory of mine and other countries.
Not less important is the Moldovan present and future contribution to the growth and development of the European economy. Most of Moldova's international trade, including Transnistria, already takes place with the European Union. Tomorrow, it will be part of the intra-EU trade. Italy confirms itself as one of the main economic and commercial partners. It is the second country in terms of foreign-owned enterprises registered in Moldova. Over the years, Italian companies have created over 20,000 jobs here.
It is a credit also of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Moldova and the Italian-Moldovan Chamber of Commerce, which together with the Moldovan institutions work side by side to allow the entrepreneurs of the two countries to increasingly strengthen their mutually beneficial collaboration, day by day. I am very pleased that Moldexpo has resumed its original function this year and that many Italian companies have ensured their presence to Fairs in various sectors.
Due to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, inflation is now high in the whole Europe, but the recovery of economic growth, as it is after any war, will be vigorous, even in Moldova. Two weeks ago, together with Minister Dabija and many companies from the two countries active in the road construction sector, the Embassy held the Italian Design Day at Palatul Republicii dedicated to the renovation of the Moldovan road network, also with a view to the reconstruction of Ukraine. We must all hold on because, as the title of a beautiful and significant Moldovan song states - which sung by Madalina Lungu won this year Sanremo Junior - "dupa noapte vine zi"!
The hopes of the Moldovan people and those of all European peoples, including the Italian people, are not separated from those of the Ukrainian people. As President Meloni also underlined, we all owe much to the Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who defend every day their and our freedom.
Together with Moldovan Institutions and families, the Italian Embassy in Chisinau does everything it can to ensure its closeness to the Ukrainian refugees in Moldova. Last year – in cooperation with the Don Bosco Centre, the UNHCR, and the Minister of Education Topale – we organized a sport event for Moldovan and Ukrainian youth, as well as an Italian cuisine event for Ukrainian refugees and the Moldovan families who host them. In a week – in collaboration with IOM Director Lonnback, Minister Nemerenco, the European Oncological Institute of Milan and the Veronesi Foundation – we will hold a medical conference on breast cancer prevention for the benefit of Moldovan and Ukrainian patients.
These and other bilateral and regional issues were at the centre of the official visit that President Grosu carried out in Italy on the 5th and 6th June. The entire Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament, majority and opposition, applauded him when he entered the Chamber. I was very pleased to be able to accompany him in his meetings with the President of the Senate La Russa, the President of the House of Representatives Fontana, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Cirielli and the Presidents of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Commissions of the House and the Senate Tremonti and Craxi. President Craxi will soon pay an important official visit to Moldova. Last month, President Caiata and Senator Giacobbe came for the CEI meeting, of which Moldova is the current President.
Parliamentary diplomacy between Rome and Chisinau is very intense and bears good fruit. It is also aiming at the accelerated ratification of the Agreement on pensions and social security signed in Rome in June 2021, on the occasion of the official visit of President Maia Sandu to the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella. This important agreement will integrate the ones concerning the Conversion of Driving Licenses and the Recognition of Educational Qualifications, for the benefit of the Moldovan Community in Italy and the Italian Community in Moldova.
It will be a further concrete step forward also in terms of European integration, in the spirit of this T-shirt created by the Embassy for Europe Day, which shows the world that the Italian and Moldovan people have a single big heart: a European heart!
Long live the Italian Republic, long live the Republic of Moldova, long live the European Union!