Dear compatriots, tonight we’re entering the Twenties of the new century.
A challenging decade is drawing to a close, characterised by a long economic crisis and rapid and impetuous changes.
Over those years, many things have changed around us, in our lives and in our society.
First and foremost, I would like to express to all of you my warmest wishes for the year that is about to begin.
This is also an opportunity to think - together - about tomorrow. To broaden the horizon of our thoughts – while not neglecting, of course, the present and its problems, as we realise that the future has actually already begun.
I was given a photo of Italy as seen from space a short time ago.
There are many of them on the web, but this one made me ponder because it comes from an astronaut, who is now an important figure in a friendly country.
I would like to share this picture with you.
With an invitation: let's try to look at Italy from the outside, broadening our view beyond our conventional ways.
After all, it is the perspective that people have of us abroad.
People see our Bel Paese, stretching out into the Mediterranean and, because ofgeography and history, positioned as one of the crossroads of Europe in close touchwith the civilisations and cultures of other continents.
This position had its role in building our identity, which is synonymous with wisdom, genius, harmony and humanity.
Importantly, in this closing year, we celebrated Leonardo da Vinci. In the yearahead we will celebrate Raphael. And immediately after that we will pay tribute to Dante Alighieri.
I frequently meet Heads of State, here in Italy and abroad.
Great openness towards us is shown wherever I go, together with a strong desire for collaboration. People abroad have a fondness for our people. Not only for our art and landscapes, our creativity and lifestyle, but also for our peace policy, for our research and the Italian capacity for dialogue with mutual respect. And in addition, for the missions of our Armed Forces supporting international stability and against terrorism, for the high value of our enterprises and for the work of our fellow citizens.
There is widespread demand for Italy.
We have problems we must not underestimate.
First of all, the lack of jobs for many people. Recurring inequalities. A number of serious business crises. The need to re-launch our production system. But we have plenty of potential to tackle and solve these problems – moreover, to play an effective role in our Europe and in the whole of the international front.
Italy is relied upon.
That very same trust that outsiders confide in us must encourage us to have more confidence in ourselves, and thereby turning our hope for a better future into reality.
I am aware of the difficulties and wounds in our communities. Of the expectations of many Italians.
We have to trust and actively commit ourselves to the common interest. We have great resources at our disposal: humanity, ingenuity and entrepreneurship. All this leads to important experiences and good practices. I personally witnessed this as I visited our territories.
There is an Italy, often silent, that has never stopped striving.
We need to create the right conditions for all the resources at our disposal to emerge and express themselves without any hindrances or difficulties.
With a spirit and attitude of mutual solidarity.
More specifically, it is necessary to close the gap that is expanding between the North and South of Italy. Not only southern communities, but the whole country bears the brunt of this, held back in its potential for development.
In order to promote trust, the smooth functioning of public institutions is crucial, because they have to fuel it and to foster social cohesion. This is possible by ensuring adequate, effective and timely decisions on issues regarding citizens’ day-to-day lives.
Democracy is strengthened if institutions keep hope alive.
It is also important to increasingly develop a culture of responsibility that involves everybody: from politicians, to individual citizens, to businesses, to intermediate groups, to associations built on interests and values.
The culture of responsibility is the strongest fortress of freedom and defence of the principles on which our Republic is founded. This common feeling of our society - when it expresses itself - is reflected on our institutions which, in return, instill in usan authentic republican spirit.
Trust must be transferred to young people, who are often asked to be accountable, but at the same time we must entrust them with responsibilities.
New generations feel, better than adults, that only with a broader capacity for observation can the global dimension of an increasingly interdependent world be understood and addressed.
They have - for example - a clear perception that climate change is of the utmost importance and that it cannot put up with further delay in tackling it.
Environmental choices are not only an indispensable defense of nature in the interests of future generations but also represent an important opportunity for development, job creation and the connection between scientific research and industry.
To emphasise how the issue of environmental protection is fundamental for our country let's think of the inhabitants of cities under threat, such as Venice, and of territories hit by earthquakes or floods, and of polluted areas.
Young people have figured it out. And they make their voices heard, projected, as they are, towards the future and without nostalgia for the past.
Every society needs young people. Perhaps even more so today, as life expectancy has increased and demographic balances have shifted towards an older age.
This new situation requires more care and attention to be given to the elderly - a precious part of society. At the same time, we need to invest heavily in our youth.
Let's trust them, and in that we avoid our young people moving abroad. Let's give them opportunities for justly paid work. Let's encourage the creation of new families.
We must place our trust in Italian families. They bear the greatest burden of social imbalances. They have faced the serious difficulties, and overcome great hardships. Often with sacrifices.
Providing support to families means making sure that they can carry out their life plans. And that their values - dialogue, self-giving, mutual help - spread throughout society and strengthen their sense of citizenship.
We must nourish our civic virtue –that includes respecting the needs of others and respecting the res publica – together.
By this virtue we curb aggression, bullying, meanness, and the breaking of community rules of cohesion.
An association of disabled people gifted me with a chair for Christmas. It is very simple but I will keep it and care for it because it bears this inscription: “When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free”.
It fully expresses the true sense of coexistence.
Two months ago near Alexandria, three firefighters were victims of the explosion of a farmhouse, which was caused to defraud the insurance company. As we remember - for them and for all such victims of their call of duty - that the pain of their family members, of their colleagues, of the whole country cannot be extinguished, I would like to underline that this event seems to offer two different images of Italians that can be compared: one noble, the other one I do not even want to mention.
But there is only one true Italy: it is that of selflessness and duty. That other Italy does not belong to our history and to the deep feelings of our people.
The authentic one is the Italy of the Mayor of Rocca di Papa, Emanuele Crestini. In the fire at his town hall, he waited for all the employees to be rescued and came out of the building last. Putting his own life at risk.
The sense of citizenship and of proportion must also belong to those who participate in world of social networking, which offers an opportunity to expand their knowledge, to dialogue with many with the aim to express their ideas and listen to those of others with attention and respect.
Sometimes it turns into a tool to denigrate others, even distorting facts – oftenby resorting to fake profiles of non-existent people to alter exchanges of opinions, to cause alarm, to take advantage of the dissemination of fake news.
The mosaic that makes up the Italian society has many precious tesserae.
I am thinking - among others - of the world of our universities, research centers, prestigious institutions of culture.
I have known and appreciated on many occasions the activity that takes place in this constellation of places of thought, innovation and science.
It is a priceless heritage of ideas and energy for building the future.
It is essential for it to be available to everyone.
Let it be known, told, shared. May any obstacles be removed, and the relationship between cultural institutions and society and access to knowledge made easier.
In this regard a fundamental role is assigned to the media and in particular to our public service.
We need training and skills.
Every now and then we see tendencies emerge even prior to their promoters getting informed.
Culture is a great driver of quality of life and makes the social fabric of a country more solid.
We would like to thank Matera, which has made Italy and its Mezzogiornoproud of being the European Capital of Culture during this year.
With this spirit, I extend my best wishes to Parma which from tomorrow will be the Italian Capital of Culture for 2020, with its extraordinary human and artistic heritage.
A particularly grateful and heartfelt greeting goes to Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, who exercises his high Magisterium with wisdom and courage and who shows every day that he loves our country, from those in need to those who, in solidarity, benefit the entire civil community.
In renewing my best wishes to all those who are listening in Italy and abroad, to all our fellow citizens, to all of those our country is hosting, I would like to address a special greeting to those who, in these festive days, ensure - as always - the functioning of the services necessary for our common life.
I send out my wishes to the women and men of the Armed Forces, of the Law Enforcement, to all those who work for the benefit of the Republic and of all its citizens through various roles and tasks.
For everyone, I greet Luca Parmitano - the first Italian astronaut in command of the international space station – who is engaged in the advanced frontier of space research, in which Italy is among the main protagonists.
From up there, from that spaceship - as you told me when we connected - you can feel how incomprehensible and senseless the enmities, the conflicts and the violence in an ever smaller and more intimate planet seem.
And he sent me a message that I make my own: hope is the possibility of always having something to achieve.
This is my wish to all of you!