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L'Italia in un mondo che cambia. Suggerimenti per la politica estera italiana

19/09/2012, Rome

In this globalizing world, the American president, whoever he may be after the November 6th election, will have an effect on Italy; just as Italy is affected by stock market fluctuations in Frankfurt or other European capitals, riots in Syria, and demonstrations by Muslims against the satirical cartoons they find offensive to their prophet. “You can ignore international politics, but it will sniff you out and pull you in”, wrote Angelo Panebianco in Corriere della Sera months ago.

Before Italy becomes a victim of a neglected foreign policy and Panebianco’s paradox comes true, three of the most important Italian institutions that work on international relations decided to join forces to produce a study plotting a course for Italian foreign policy. “L’Italia in un mondo che cambia” is the title of the document that was edited by Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Istituto per gli studi di politica internazionale (ISPI) and Nomisma, and presented in Rome .

In answer to the question put forth by Franco Venturini, Corriere della Sera columnist and moderator of the debate, whether there is a country that can speak for Europe, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi answered that “each country must speak for Europe” and that “Italy has got what it takes to do so”. Our country, the Minister added, “must aim at coalition building”, that is the capacity to make its voice heard by other countries “to provide Europe with a global strategy”.

In Terzi’s opinion, we need political as much as economic integration: “This prospect could give Italy influence and power in our globalized world. Security and growth are fundamental objectives for defining the Italy and Europe we want”.

“This study contains useful suggestions for government action and comes at a critical point in time, when we have to ponder the future of Europe and Italy”, the Minister stated. IAI president, Stefano Silvestri, explained that the study sprang from an initiative of Finmeccanica’s research department and rests on the premise that “we are experiencing a progressive shift of power from the US and Europe to emerging countries. The decisive element is the capacity of international institutions to manage this change, and as a result Italy has to re-launch and strengthen the European integration process”. According to Sebastiano Maffettone, professor of political philosophy at Luiss Guido Carli University of Rome, Europe has to be “more subtle but stronger”, because, “if it is true that the world is not cosmopolitan and there cannot be a a world of individual States, the only possibility left is a world of organized regions”.

As the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, has often noted, we need to go beyond national politics in order to achieve a stronger and more integrated Europe because, as stated by Giuseppe Cucchi, Nomisma’s scientific coordinator, “domestic and international choices are more and more intertwined”. Vincenzo Camporini, IAI vice-president expressed the same idea: “Politicians and the media have to convince public opinion that foreign and domestic policy are no longer two separate realms”.

The three axes along which Italian foreign policy has moved until now – the American axis, the European and the Mediterranean – have to be reconsidered, as pointed out by Lapo Pistelli, Democratic Party member of parliament, “to find a bipartisan agreement on a course of action in the international field”. Europe has to provide important input in each of these scenarios in order to be recognized by the US – neither Romney nor Obama made reference to Europe during their election campaigns. According to Terzi, there is above all “a need to continue to strengthen relations with the Middle East”, especially in light of the last meetings in Rome with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Franco Bruni, vice-president and ISPI scientific director, stressed the economic aspects of foreign policy, already underlined by Minister Terzi, who stated that he had reinforced the economic side of the Foreign Ministry in order to increase Italy’s competitiveness. “ESM was born with a weakness due to its conditionality”, Bruni observed. Thanks to Italian diplomacy, this conditionality is less stringent for “countries that have done their homework”, he added. Alessandro Pansa, general director of Finmeccanica, also talked about the economy: “the safeguarding of Italian companies abroad and providing investment incentives for foreign companies can spur foreign policy”.

The aim of the IAI, ISPI and Nomisma study is to raise foreign policy awareness in political spheres. “Today”, noted Ambassador Giancarlo Aragona, ISPI president, “Italy has to preserve its influence in Europe because that is a national influence multiplier”. Venturini added: “We cannot let people think that anything can be done in Europe or the world without Italy”.

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