Today marks the 76th anniversary of the foundation of the Italian Republic. As we celebrate the choice made on that historic day, we are offered a chance to focus on the values at the core of our country’s action: democracy, equality, solidarity, labor, liberty and peace.
As the Russian aggression in Ukraine has shown, these values cannot be taken for granted. On the contrary, we should instead feel encouraged to assume a proactive approach in their defense and promotion. That is what Italy and Greece do every day. We have proven it by granting cohesive and continuous support to Ukraine and, in wider terms, by increasing our efforts to broaden the scope and the foundations of our bilateral relationship, which keeps on strengthening in all aspects.
While our countries share common roots and cultural similarities, the depth of our bilateral relations can be fully explained keeping in mind that Italy and Greece – friends, neighbors, allies and strategic partners – share a common vision, which is the outcome of historical processes and specific political choices, which we confirm every day.
On the one hand, I am referring to the constant consultations between us within the European Union, NATO and other relevant international organizations, where we have an overwhelmingly common understanding of the challenges and the possible solutions. By coordinating with each other, we also increase our standing and influence within and outside the EU.
On the other hand, I refer to the countless areas of our bilateral cooperation.
It would take pages to describe our political cooperation (on migration, energy, the European social and economic agenda, the stability of the Western Balkans and much more), economic cooperation (Italy is the first destination market for Greek products and the second country of origin of Greek imports; Italian enterprises provide a significant contribution to the Greek economy in terms of employment, growth, strategic investments and cutting-edge technological solutions) and cultural cooperation (two cultural superpowers like Italy and Greece cannot but center their relationship around culture, which is priceless – as shown for instance by the support of the Italian government for the permanent repatriation of the Parthenon’s Fagan fragment).
However, our cooperation encompasses a much wider range of issues, which may seem “technical” at a first glance, but are rather key to our society’s security and prosperity.
This is the case of our cooperation in the field of civil protection, which is driven by our common interest to develop strategies and methods aimed at reducing common risks, particularly forest fires, floods and earthquakes. The ongoing contacts between our civil protection agencies will enhance Italy and Greece’s capacity to prevent, mitigate and respond to natural or man-made disasters.
Likewise, our cooperation is key as far as agriculture, food security and nutrition are concerned. On nutrition, in particular, we share the same approach, which is inspired by our common attention to the Mediterranean diet – on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity – and to promoting a model which combines balanced and sustainable nutrition with a healthy lifestyle. That is why we are working together to promote the adoption of a transparent and fair front-pack labeling system.
Italy counts on all its Greek friends to find old and new common interests, helping us to make our bonds even stronger
In line with Italy’s 2021 G20 Presidency’s theme – “Planet, Prosperity and People” – our dialogue with Greece significantly focuses on reflecting on the world we wish to live in. This means, for instance, looking for new solutions in the digital sector: something on which our countries have been cooperating in recent months, also in the light of the significant progress in e-government by the Hellenic authorities.
Global challenges also require us to think about our future societies. In order to make our lives better, it is key to develop increasingly inclusive and interconnected cities.
This is the strategic goal of Rome’s candidacy to host the next World Exhibition, in 2030. Italy plans to focus it on “People and Territories: Urban Regeneration, Inclusion and Innovation.” Rome’s success in this bid would be highly beneficial also for Greece: By developing joint strategies with our Greek friends, Expo 2030 Roma could optimize its high potential to become a tourist hub, attracting visitors from all over the world toward the larger Mediterranean region, including Greece.
Moreover, Expo 2030 Roma could provide an invaluable platform to progress in key areas for Greece, such as the sustainability and livability of large metropolitan areas, energy transition, the relationship between big/capital cities and “the rest of the country,” and building smart cities through digitalization.
All these examples of cooperation show that a bright future lies ahead for Italy and Greece and that our countries are committed to taking this path together, as Italy and Greece cannot but rely on each other if they want to fulfill their strategic interests.
Italy counts on all its Greek friends to find old and new common interests, helping us to make our bonds even stronger.
Viva la Repubblica Italiana! Viva l’Italia! Viva l’Amicizia Italo-greca!
Patrizia Falcinelli is ambassador of Italy to Greece.