The Quirinale Palace 16/12/2019

Speech by the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, on the occasion of the Season's greetings ceremony on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps

Most Excellent Dean,

Dear Mr. Minister,

Chairmen of parliamentary Committees,

Ladies and Gentlemen Ambassadors,

Dear Young diplomats,

I would like to thank the Dean for his kind and thoughtful words and reciprocate the warm wishes bestowed to me and to Italy through him.

I am grateful for this, as I am for the precious service you provide to engender dialogue between your countries and Italy, with your daily commitment.

The closing year has once more brought up, in an increasingly pressing manner, some questions which the international community is struggling to find an answer to, an answer which is appropriate to the nature of the challenges that mankind is currently facing.

In the meantime, conflicts and tensions are fuelling increasing instability and undermining the capacity for effective cooperation.

The international order, based on the rubble of the painful experiences of the 20th century, sets the pace, with the emerging tendency to invert the hierarchy between universal values and alleged national “interests”.

The paradoxical result is that of the weakening of a world governance, despite the fact we are facing an increasingly intense process of globalization, with deep and evident effects, not only economic but also social and cultural in nature.

Rather than bringing about a serious reflection on how to deal with it together, the difficulty of managing this phase of marked interdependence, causes phenomena of “rejection”, distance and unrealistic confidence in the possibility of seeking refuge in the solitary protection of their communities, all of this in the presence of worldwide phenomena.

First of all, it is necessary to highlight the widespread awareness of the need to defend the environment, also in the wake of an extraordinarily lively and wide-ranging youth movement. An awareness that now needs to be turned into a convinced and concrete operation.

The attention of the international community, the media, associations and individuals to the “health” of our planet has never been so great - since the signing of the Paris Agreement to date.

Unfortunately, the recently concluded COP 25 is an example of how much more needs to be done to raise awareness regarding the need to protect the planet.

However, even if at international level different sensitivities coexist - as the failure of the Madrid agreement testifies - the focus of the issue of a balanced and sustainable ecological transition, now appears to be an inescapable and conditioning datum of international relations.

The European Union’s goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 - which Italy strongly supports - is a development fully in line with this awareness and sense of urgency, with the aspiration to become a reference for good practice.

Secondly, the elections for the European Parliament, held last July, saw an unprecedented turnout and an electoral campaign that, for the first time, directly affected the relationship between citizens and the European institutions.

In an increasingly fractured international scenario, the Union represents a point of equilibrium and holding fast to values that focus on the dignity of the person, guarantees of rights and certainties of protection.

Exercising this role requires a strong awareness of how the European Union is bound, at this juncture, to firmly defend the reasons for fair and supportive multilateralism, to foster the growth of all the peoples of the world.

We need the courage of a vision wherein individual countries become aware that we can only achieve higher goals together, with benefits for all.

The institutional cycle that has just begun will be a test of the level of ambition of the European Union. Starting with the negotiation of the multi-annual budget, an instrument for cohesion and closeness to citizens as well as for projection in the global context.

The budget supports an integration project of which all Member States have been, are and will be net beneficiaries. It is not an exercise between those who contribute and those who receive resources, or between the east and the west of Europe.

Naturally there will be an external policy addressed, first of all, to the surrounding countries, with neighborhood and pre-inclusion policies for areas, like the Western Balkans, which have long since embarked on an important path.

The Union will not be complete as long as the countries of the Western Balkans are excluded.

The proposal for a Conference on the future of Europe is a step in the right direction.

It is important for the European institutions to ask themselves tenaciously - given the progress that needs to be made in terms of integration - whether it would be appropriate to build on their democratic legitimacy, with the involvement of the citizens, the intermediary bodies and the national parliaments.

All the more reason now that the British supreme decision makes London farther from Europe.

Alcide De Gasperi warned in 1948 that “against the march of instinctive and irrational forces” the only countermeasure is to build a “solidarity of reason and feeling, of freedom and justice, and instill in the united Europe that heroic spirit of freedom and sacrifice that has always led the decision in the great hours of history.”

A lesson that is relevant to this day.

European citizens have the right to be defended and not overwhelmed by events over which the individual countries could not exert any significant influence, starting with security issues.

In this regard, the steps that the Union has taken, with the firm participation of Italy, strengthening the mechanisms that guide the development of a common foreign and security policy, and also taking, through PESCO, the first steps in the field of defense, represent an evolution consistent with the objective of making the Union take the necessary “quality leap” that the Conference on the Future of Europe should promote, ten years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.

A "quality leap" complementary to the Atlantic Alliance, which has been a guarantee of peace and freedom for the past seventy years. An alliance that we all desire as an instrument of solidarity in every aspect of relations and in every facet of security strategy. With concrete equal attention given to all threats, even those that - in terms of instability and terrorism - continue to come from the southern quadrant.

Political solidarity and a shared vision in events, such as those which have long involved Libya, are indispensable and would be extremely beneficial.


Most Excellent Dean

Ladies and Gentlemen Ambassadors,


The Atlantic Alliance and the European Union and, globally, the United Nations, Specialized Agencies, Financial Institutions, represent the hard-fought product of a progressive evolution of the international structure. An evolution that, beginning with the dramatic events of the last century, has made it so that relations of power were gradually replaced by the force of law.

Multilateralism is the natural consequence of this progress.

It is in fact thanks to a method that has removed international relations from a logic of "zero sum" – wherein in order for one to prevail someone must lose - that in the almost 75 years since the end of the Second World War we have progressively crafted a procedure of conflict prevention, stimulating interaction between subjects, favoring the creation of many additional requests for collaboration, including non-formal ones.

Let us consider the G7 and the G20, of regional African, Asian and South American organizations, whose ultimate goal is to truly improve cooperation on major issues.

The weakening of the multilateral system and the parallel development of widespread tensions should cause alarm. And recent developments in the Mediterranean reinforce this concern, with dynamics that transfer contrasts from the political to the economic sphere, to the management of natural resources, and vice versa.

You too - careful observers of international relations - will surely have not missed the fact that it has not become common practice to utilize the term "war" to define a dissent between States, qualifying it in various ways: "economic war", " commercial war”, as if to soften its meaning.

On the contrary, nothing weakens the meaning of the noun "war" and the harmful character of those contrasts that represent an alarming risk is further evinced.

In this context, two developments are of particular concern.

Firstly, the lack of tools designed to ensure arms control, regimes set up to make the whole planet a safer place for all.

A return to military competition, in conjunction with the virtual absence of initiatives aimed at developing rules regarding the containment of increasingly lethal weapons, represents a sign of historical regression for the entire international community, fraught with risks.

All the more so when the race for militarization seems to extend to areas, such as space, Antarctica or the Arctic, so far excluded and where, instead, the concern of all was the common extension of humanity’s scope of knowledge, envisaging a more collaborative future.

An involution that is also felt on another level, that of the freedom of trade and commerce, a fundamental condition for economic and social growth that favors peace between peoples.

The correct functioning of the mechanisms provided by the World Trade Organization is an objective of juridical civilization that we thought we had reached.

It must be noted that the difficulties that now stand in way of the normal continuation of the functioning of its organs justify questions also regarding the validity that can be recognized to the decisions taken by the WTO in the exercise of the last mandates.

Most Excellent Dean

Ladies and Gentlemen Ambassadors,

this is not a question of emphasizing multilateralism in the abstract, but of reflecting on the tools and methodologies with which the international community intends to face the destiny of humanity.

I am sure that diplomacy, an activity devoted to dialogue, to the preservation of fruitful relations between states, will provide valuable clues and reflections for the consolidation of an international order that does not revert back to the errors of the not too distant past.

It is an invitation, which I extend to the young members of the Farnesina for the future of their professional activity in the service of the Republic.

With this hope I once more tender best wishes for the upcoming holidays and for a year of peace to you all, to your families and to the countries you represent.