June 2 Italian National Day: new challenges, new opportunities - The Korea Times
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June 2 Italian National Day: new challenges, new opportunities

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Italian Ambassador to Korea Federico Failla delivers a speech during a reception at his residence in Hannam-dong, Seoul, in June 2019, to mark the 73rd anniversary of his country's Republic Day. This was his first hosting of a National Day reception after beginning his tenure in March 2019. The embassy will skip this year's reception due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing campaign. / Courtesy of Embassy of Italy
Italian Ambassador to Korea Federico Failla delivers a speech during a reception at his residence in Hannam-dong, Seoul, in June 2019, to mark the 73rd anniversary of his country's Republic Day. This was his first hosting of a National Day reception after beginning his tenure in March 2019. The embassy will skip this year's reception due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing campaign. / Courtesy of Embassy of Italy

By Federico Failla

Every year, the recurrence of the Italian National Day gives us the opportunity to reflect on the recent history of Italy. In just over 70 years, Italy has become one of the largest economies and one of the largest exporters in the world, as well as one of the largest manufacturers. It is a founding member of the European Union and host of the signing ceremony of the Treaties establishing the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) in 1957, that later became known as "Treaties of Rome."

Italy is part of the major global fora, including the G7 and G20, and it has served as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council seven times.

This year our reflections, as in most countries in the world, are significantly different. Our thoughts are with the victims of COVID-19 in Italy and everywhere else, to whom we wish to pay our deepest respects. Our tribute goes to the courage and selfless dedication of doctors, nurses, researchers, scientists, police, army, government employees and ordinary people who have been fighting this invisible enemy for months with tireless and unrelenting efforts, so as to reestablish a safer environment for all. Our hopes are that all the countries affected by the pandemic will go back to a normal life very soon.

But we do not want to forget. We cannot, we must not. Italy was one of the first countries in Europe to be heavily affected by the epidemic. Very rigorous measures have been enforced, from the complete lockdown to massive screening tests for the population. It has reemerged from the most difficult weeks of the epidemic's peak between March and April thanks to our medical and sanitary personnel dedication, containment measures adopted by the authorities, strict compliance and resilience of the Italian people, and solidarity of friends of Italy in the world. And it is now coming back to normalcy, with many areas where the number of contagions has been close to zero for quite a few weeks.

What lies in front of us is an uncertain road, as for every country. We are still in uncharted waters. We are nevertheless determined to overcome any challenge that lies ahead, combining security and safety with steady recovery of our industrial and technological capabilities that are associated with "Made in Italy." The Italian government has so far adopted a package of economic and fiscal measures to support the internationalization of the Italian companies, namely more than 200 billion Euros, including 30 billion for small and medium Enterprises, in promotional activities and guarantees for exports.

The Embassy of Italy in Seoul intends to closely work together with the Republic of Korea in order to overcome the current challenges and restart its economic activities. In such a complex situation, the Korean government has managed to effectively contain the spread of the COVID-19 contagions on its national territory. We now need to use our resources collectively, since no country can overcome this pandemic on its own, speed up joint research and deal courageously with challenges that lie ahead by turning them into opportunities.

The Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases, based in Rome, was one of the first institutes in the world to identify the COVID-19 string in early February. Today, five Italian institutions are actively working on the development of a vaccine, that is Spallanzani Institute, GSK Vaccines in Siena, IRBM Science Park, Reithera and Takis in Pomezia. We are now looking forward to develop further our standing cooperation with relevant Korean institutions, namely Seoul National University, the Korea National Institute of Health, and the International Vaccine Institute.

Italian Ambassador to Korea Federico Failla gives a speech to commemorate the Italy's humanitarian aid during the Korean War, at Wooshin Elementary School in Seoul in June 2019. / Courtesy Embassy of Italy
Italian Ambassador to Korea Federico Failla gives a speech to commemorate the Italy's humanitarian aid during the Korean War, at Wooshin Elementary School in Seoul in June 2019. / Courtesy Embassy of Italy
International crises must be an opportunity to improve, change and grow, but also to show solidarity, like 70 years ago when, at the outbreak of the Korean War, there was a strong show of solidarity towards the Republic of Korea.

The key is a more effective international cooperation. Indeed, Italy and Korea cooperate effectively in many multilateral fora, with the aim to promote multilateralism, openness and solidarity. With this in mind, we face challenges that are global in nature. Besides the current pandemic, there are other compelling global challenges, such as climate change, natural disasters, terrorism, and organized crime.

The European Union and Italy are at the forefront of raising the awareness about the global warming by achieving by 2030 climate reduction targets and by 2050 climate neutrality, including de-carbonization, and by promoting green economy through developing renewable energies, recycling and investments in green economy.

We are also committed to successfully co-host COP26 with the United Kingdom in 2021, and to closely work with the Korean government, also in the framework of the P4G ― "Partnership for Green Growth Summit and the Global Goals 2030" that will be hosted in Seoul also next year. The world that will emerge when the pandemic is over could be significantly different.

In this regard, we believe that the resilience, the creativity and the innovation, that have always been distinctive features of "Made in Italy" known internationally, will lay the basis of our economic recovery and will make our economy more vibrant and innovative in the post-COVID-19 world. In the meantime, Italy is looking forward to welcome again Korean people back to Italy, which has been the first destination in Europe for Korean tourists for years, and to create new opportunities for further developing our strategic partnership.

Federico Failla is the Italian ambassador to Korea.


Yi Whan-woo yistory@koreatimes.co.kr


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