(By Arturo Zampaglione)
ROME – “If Italy needs the United Nations, the United Nations need Italy as well, for its heart, generosity and passion,” said Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, at the high level celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the admission of Italy to the U.N., on October 15 in Rome.
Celebrating the event at Montecitorio Palace – seat of the Chamber of Deputies – along with Premier Renzi was the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, the Ministers of the government, all the Members of the Italian Parliament, along with several military and political Italian and foreign dignitaries, including former U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.
The guest of honour was Ban Ki-moon, who came on his 16th visit to the Mediterranean country to receive the official Milan Chart at the World EXPO, on Friday October 16. Speaking in Italian but quickly moving into English, Ban praised the six decades of “great partnership” between Italy and the U.N.
The U.N. Secretary-General paid homage to the Italian soldiers who saved thousands of human lives in the Mediterranean, and thanked the Italian population for the efforts made to welcome and assist migrants. In addition to its strong presence and positive attitude in the current Mediterranean crisis, Italy is also the first western supplier of blue helmets for U.N. peacekeeping operations, reminded Ban.
Highlighting the trends of the global crisis on forced migrations, the Secretary-General, commented on the supposed differences between migrants and refugees. “Among those who escape, there are no
differences between who is worthy and who is not” – Ban observed – “They are all people who belong to common human families, who need support, protection and the respect of human rights. Re-integration of refugees, is a global responsibility.”
Ban congratulated Italy for its precious role in preventive diplomacy, carried by the Italian government but also by NGOs such as the Community of Sant’Egidio. The Secretary General recalled the passion of former Italian Prime Minister, Alcide De Gasperi, “a man who worked hard for Italy’s membership in the United Nations but never lived to see it”.
In front of the Italian audience, Ban told the story of his first experience with the U.N. as a young boy, who lived in a Korean Peninsula broken by a civil war, while surrounded by people who had nothing but “mud in their shoes and hunger in their stomachs”. It was at that time, Ban said, that he understood the crucial role played by the blue helmets and U.N. humanitarian agencies, which today assist over 60 million refugees worldwide.
Broadcast live on national television channels, the ceremony for Italy’s 60th anniversary was a clear symbol of the seriousness that Italy puts in tackling humanitarian challenges.
Laura Boldrini, Italian Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and a former UN official, insisted on the importance of “having more United Nations”, given the current global trends, and on the “need of maintaining an alliance of civilisations to halt extremisms and terrorism.”
With reference to the Italian candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council for the years 2017-2018, the President of the Italian Senate, Pietro Grasso, said: “Italy is a pivotal country within the international organisation, and the U.N. has always been an essential part of Italy’s foreign policy.”
In conclusion to the event, Prime Minister Renzi made a survey of the several activities in which Italy is committing its people. Soldiers, diplomats, aid workers within the U.N. system, they are all working from the “peripheries of the world all the way to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific”.
“Italy” – said Renzi – “Does not have an abstract idea of peace,” adding the great value and success of the Milan EXPO.
However, one must not forget, paused Renzi, while reflecting on a dark episode of the history of the U.N. , when in 1995 international diplomacy was not able to stop the massacre of Srebrenica, in Bosnia. His hope? “Such episode should not happen again” – concluded the Prime Minister
(AZ/VI, October 15, 2015)