Dal Korea Times del 9 giugno 2000 (edizione elettronica su Internet)
The following article was contributed by Italian Ambassador to Korea Carlo Trezza.
Korea, Italy Boast Growing Cooperative Relations
By Carlo Trezza
The friendship between Italy and Korea dates back to 1884, when diplomatic relations were formally established between the then two kingdoms. Since then, the two countries have built and constantly maintained a high level bilateral cooperation. This year, the main event was the state visit that President Kim Dae-jung paid to Italy in March. It was the first visit, ever, of a Korean head of state to Italy. On that occasion a great impulse was given to bilateral relations in all fields.
Italian Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and all the highest authorities of my country reiterated Italy's and Europe's strong support of the engagement policy the Republic of Korea has adopted vis-a-vis North Korea.
The commitment of Italy for the easing of the tension in the Korean peninsula is confirmed by the establishment, in January this year, of diplomatic relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Italy took such an initiative, which was carried out in close consultation with the ROK's government, to substantiate with facts our support for the South Korean policy of dialogue. Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lamberto Dini paid an official visit to North Korea at the end of March. It was the first visit by a G-7 minister to Pyongyang. On that occasion, Minister Dini conveyed to the North Korean authorities the clear message that “in this era of globalization, no country can develop in isolation, no one can guarantee his own security without taking care of the concerns of others. In particular, peace and security in the Korean peninsula and in the region are fundamental concerns of the international community. Italy advocates a solution through a direct dialogue between the North and the South.''
The announcement of a North-South summit confirmed that such a dialogue is possible, and that the policy of engagement and peaceful coexistence between the two Koreas is the only reasonable way to address and hopefully to solve the problems of the Korean peninsula.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. Italy gave its humanitarian assistance to the Republic of Korea in 1950-53, at a time when Italy itself had difficulties in recovering from its war wounds. The celebration of this anniversary will be a good occasion to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, as well as to set the event in a future-oriented, rather than simply historical, perspective. We shall be officially present at that event as a testimony of our engagement to overcome the confrontations of the past.
A positive relationship between two countries has to be based on the knowledge of their respective cultures: Korea and Italy both boast long standing traditions of mutual understanding in all those fields where man expresses his emotions and sensitivity: from music, figurative arts to poetry, literature and philosophy. We can learn very much from each other. Cooperation in the cultural sector has been, from the very start, one of our priorities, through the presentation of initiatives aimed at promoting and disseminating Italian language and culture. The society in which we live will increasingly be multi-ethnic and multi-cultural: a global society. It befalls to those countries, inheritors of great civilizations, to share their cultural legacy with the rest of the world.
Both Italy and Korea belong to that category. Through its Cultural Institute in Seoul, Italy intends to give a further contribution to the building of still closer relations in the cultural sector. A significant initiative in this direction is the establishment of courses of Italian language and culture in Korean universities. So far, Italian courses are held in six universities in Korea. Last year, the Italian Institute of Culture organized 165 cultural events in Seoul and in other Korean cities. We are strongly committed to continue: on the occasion of the ASEM Summit, the Italian government will sponsor a tour to Korea of the Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia, one of the most ancient musical institutions in the world. It was founded by Pope Gregorio XII in 1585 and its first President was the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
This event will be emblematic of the spirit of Euro-Asian cooperation: an European orchestra directed by its permanent Asian conductor, Maestro Chung Myung-whun, will provide the perfect backdrop to the ASEM Summit. Italy is also willing to provide a more substantial contribution to the ASEM exercise, by sharing Italian know-how in the field of small and medium enterprises.
Next June 12-15, a conference on this subject will be held in Bologna, Italy, under the joint auspices of the Italian government and the OECD. The outcome of the conference will provide a significant momentum to the international cooperation in this sector, which should find further drive in the Seoul ASEM summit. We hope in a high level Korean participation in the Bologna Conference.
Scientific research and technology development have a prominent place in the policy of a modern state. As far as science is concerned, our country has a solid structure and a long tradition: ten Nobel laureates, good universities - some over 800 years old - renowned public and private research institutions. Cooperation between the two countries in the field of science and technology is growing. Exchange of visits, meetings and seminars have played an important role in improving reciprocal knowledge and appreciation and continue to do so. Basic research, in particular in chemistry and physics, is one of the most fruitful areas in which Korean and Italian scientists are expanding their relations.
The bilateral volume of trade between Italy and Korea amounted to about 3 billion dollars in 1999. It is a high figure, but it can be increased to better reflect the potentialities of the two economies. We must therefore work to increase bilateral trade, through export promotion and liberalization of the remaining hurdles. A fundamental way to increase trade is to foster investments in both directions. This was one of the most important messages the President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi conveyed to the Korean delegation during President Kim Dae-jung's visit. We are now working in the wake of that historic encounter. The state visit has given an impulse to the economic bilateral ties, as well as to all the other expressions of Italian-Korean cooperation; we should therefore be optimistic and positive about the future development of our relations.
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© Valerio Anselmo