Italy National Day
Speech delivered by the Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Mr Vincenzo Schioppa on the 4th of June 2015 in Pretoria on the occasion of Italy's National Day celebration
When I started my mission here, almost four years ago, I wanted this day to be emblematic of all the multiple facets of the friendship, culture and stories of South Africa and Italy.
The diversity of all of you, my dear guests, tells us that we have succeeded in doing that.
Your presence here, your smiling faces, are the proof of your friendship to Italy, of your affection to our cooperation, and, now I know it, to the Italian Ambassador. Thank you for being here today and for being with me, with us, during these years.
Let me say that nothing like approaching humbly the values of the African tradition in South Africa has been more rewarding and more fascinating during my mission here. This is an occasion to say thanks to the many, many African friends that I have met. And that I will never forget.
Because, it is time for me to leave. The end of my mandate is approaching, and this will be the last of my National day celebrations. I arrived here full of expectations and enthusiasm. I am leaving full of good memories, and satisfactions.
With all my colleagues, collaborators and friends, not only of the Embassy, we have had a very simple project of work: see more Italy in South Africa, see more South Africa in Italy. Let me say this, with pride, and joy: we have got some achievements, and we are happy for that.
Thanks to the attention of my Government, and because of the importance that we attribute to South Africa, we almost doubled the senior staff of the Embassy, for strengthening the economic, scientific and cultural action, and for reinforcing the guidance to our Consulates.
Outreach, going out the walls of the offices. That is what we had as a motto for our action. Going out to meet the real people of South Africa, the real expectations, to find new grounds for cooperation.
We tried to let no stone unturned to find new or scarcely known occasions of partnership. We approached the young generations with new sports and culture programs. We launched our own traditional Magazine, “Insider South Africa”, that was a clear success, and we try to be visible on the social media.
I was and am particularly happy and proud for the launching in Cape Town of the Italian Ambassador Perennial Trophy, a social sailing race now at its third edition, organised with the RCYC and my club the Reale Yacht Club Canottieri Savoia of Naples by sharing with the kids of the township the values of the Sea.
We did reach out for increasing the commercial and economic cooperation. May be it is by chance, maybe not. But is a fact that in the last three years many new industrial partnerships with South Africa were created, together with new streams of trade and economic expansion. I think that we did well in promoting the idea that there is not only the “made in Italy”, but also the “made with Italy” which is even more important. South Africa based partnerships for local and surrounding markets. This is what I have been telling tirelessly to our entrepreneurs and investors. This is what will take us to a win-win situation.
We did develop with the internationally-known consultant firm and think-thank “Ambrosetti-The European House” an annual Italian-South African economic Summit, whose second edition will be held in Cape Town the coming 1st and 2nd of October. The first one was held last year, with the participation of our Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. 50 economic leaders from Italy, 50 economic leaders from South Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. To build together reciprocal economic and social profit, to create wealth, jobs and opportunities in our Countries.
So, we have “some good stories to tell” in many fields: new services, new cultural and scientific initiatives (as an example in the SKA project), new social programs, new and more creative presence within the South African society. For that, I would like to thank my fantastic team at large.
I have mentioned fields in which I really think that we succeeded. But as you know, I like to be sincere, and straightforward: two Countries like South Africa and Italy, sharing the same values of freedom, democracy, equality, with a story of profound Italian support to the fight against apartheid, with stories like the one of Oliver Tambo who is considered a citizen of Reggio Emilia for the time spent there and for the support received by the ANC from Italy, two Countries like ours could and should do much more together from a broader political point of view, even more so when more international strength is needed for facing the threat of terrorism, the challenges of migrations, the risks of unequal growth and the deepening of social divides. I think that some already planned high level missions from Italy for this year and the beginning of 2016 will be the occasions for relaunching at the highest level a strategic partnership. In any case, I would like to thank all our counterparts in the Governments and the South African civil service for the cooperation. A special thanks of course to our colleagues and friends at the DIRCO.
Celebrating the Italian republic and the friendship between our two Countries is the perfect occasion to announce that the President of the Italian Republic, H.E. Sergio Mattarella, following a proposal by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has decided to bestow three individuals with the highest honor for Italians abroad and for foreigners that distinguished themselves in building bridges of friendships with Italy. This order is called “Ordine della Stella d’Italia”, the “Order of the Star of Italy”:
Advocate Mark Nowitz is bestowed with the class of Cavaliere (Knight).
Mr. Nicolo’ Claudio Giuricich is bestowed with the Class of Cavaliere (Knight).
Dr. Francesco Angeloni is bestowed with the Class of Officer (Ufficiale).