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From the Embassy’s magnificent headquarters in Washington D.C., Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero traveled to the West Coast on his official visit to California and – for the first time ever – to Oregon, in the week of March 8th.
While in Los Angeles, he was welcomed by the Italian institutions and community at the Cultural Institute in Westwood, where a press conference and a special screening were held.
Among other commitments, Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero also met with USC faculty and researchers, as well as with representatives of the City of Los Angeles.
A long and successful career in international relations, Claudio Bisogniero entered the Italian Foreign Service in 1978 and soon after served as Counselor in the Permanent Mission of Italy to NATO for 5 years.
He has held multiple cabinet positions within the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was appointed NATO Deputy Secretary General in Brussels in 2007. He was also a member of the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations in New York and of the Italian delegation in the UN Security Council and General Assembly. His first experience at the Italian Embassy in the U.S. was in 1992, when he took office as First Counselor for Economic and Commercial Affairs. Ten years later, he was named Ambassador of Italy to the United States.
Introduced to the local media and dignitaries by Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles Antonio Verde and IIC Director Valeria Rumori, Ambassador Bisogniero started off his remarks by providing an overview of Italy’s current political and economic situation. He underlined that the Government is implementing massive crucial and overdue reforms, still aimed at accelerating the gradual recover from the crisis. They should address the proverbial red tape, the judiciary and lawmaking systems, and job creation.
In particular, he discussed the positive impact that the upcoming Expo Milan 2015 (May 1st – October 31st) will have on the economy of both Italy and the world.
Compared with the last Expo in Shanghai in 2010, this will be smaller in size but more concentrated, with the participation of over 140 countries and international organizations, and focused on a very topical issue that concerns the international community.
Food security, sustainability, and healthy nutrition represent, in fact, a major challenge: the present trend would lead us to consume 3 times what Earth can actually produce, jeopardizing the life of about 9.5 billion people by 2050. This is why it is so imperative to take action and make the change happen, and Italy with its famous Mediterranean diet certainly has a say when it comes to food quality and traditions.
In addition, Expo Milan 2015 will be a unique occasion to increase trading and export between Europe and the U.S., which is already over 1/3 of global trade and growing, as well as investment opportunities. Since no federal funding was allowed to build the U.S. Pavilion, the non-profit foundation Friends of the U.S. Pavilion is gathering companies interested in participating, funding, and most of all showcasing their technology, know-how, and products.
In regards to bilateral economic and commercial relations, Ambassador Bisogniero also mentioned the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an ongoing negotiation to develop the first ever free-trade treaty between Europe and the U.S. This win-win measure will include bringing down the barriers and tariffs that are now frustrating export in both directions, and unifying the standards and certification system to save companies time and money. Small enterprises without a legal department and limited resources will particularly benefit from the TTIP. According to the first studies carried out by experts, California’s export to Europe will increase of 26% and 75,000 new jobs will be created.
Right after the press conference, Ambassador Bisogniero, representatives of the Italian Institutions and associations, and the IIC guests commemorated the International Women’s Day with the screening of a short version of the documentary Catia’s Choice. 80 Miles South Of Lampedusa, directed by Roberto Borchielli (in attendance).
The movie tells the touching and inspirational true story of 37-year old Catia Pellegrino, Italy’s first female naval commander, whose determination and enormous efforts saved the life of hundreds of drowning refugees from Africa off the coast of Lampedusa, Sicily, on October 11, 2013. In her Skype message to the audience, the protagonist shared her feelings as well as the reactions of the crew in dealing with a woman in command.
Congratulating with her, Claudio Bisogniero also reminded of Italy’s female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and of all other powerful women who honor their Country of origin.
In particular, he illustrated how women’s role in regards to nutrition will be recognized during Expo Milan 2015 through the innovative initiative “WE – Women for EXPO,” coordinating ideas, suggestion, and projects based on their vision and knowledge.
The results of the world fair’s dialog will be presented to the UN Secretary General in October, on the occasion of the World Food Day, in order to ensure a “long lasting legacy” to the experience of Expo Milan 2015.