Friday, February 26, 2016

Italy and its Role in International Relations in Europe and the Mediterranean

Image courtesy of Consulate General of Italy in Chicago
On February 16, 2016, a lecture sponsored by the Department of French and Italian  and co-sponsored by the European Union Center was held regarding Italy and International Relations.  The lecture featured Marco Graziosi, Vice Consul of Italy in Chicago and Prof. Federiga Bindi-Visiting Scholar, John Hopkins University.  The author of this article is Carlo Di-Giulio, a graduate assistant at the EUC.  In this article, he relates his experience of listening to Professor Federiga Bindi. 

Professor Federiga Bindi comes from many years of working closely with ministers and diplomats and taking part in decisive moments of Italian politics in the international arena. This long and solid experience is clearly visible when she talks to the audience, and when she sometimes calls by first name the same ministers and diplomats that have had key roles in the last 15 years of Italian foreign relations.

Professor Bindi accurately described the role of Italy and its aspirations to be a big country – in the claims of some politicians – as a mistake. Describing Italian contemporary history and its evolution since WWII, she highlighted how being among the founders of the European project since the very beginning fostered some illusions that Italy could have played as a big (with all the risks involved) country although being a middle-size country.

She gave an overview of the relations with the US and the importance and meaning that these have, all accompanied with personal anecdotes. The narration of the debates on critical decisions before the recent Libyan conflict captured the audience and suggested an alternative perspective on negotiation's table in international politics.

A special mention to the relations with Russia and Turkey by looking at the Syrian refugee crisis and future relations with Egypt – especially within light of the recent Regeni murder, a young researcher brutally tortured and killed in Cairo last January – closed a highly positive appraisal of the Italian Ambassador in Cairo and full trust in his abilities to manage and solve the tensions created by the case.

Professor Bindi’s speech was engaging, and a truthful picture of what discussion tables look like. Her insights on negotiations and genuine analyses of diplomatic dynamics behind the scenes have made her speech a “must attend” for all those interested in international relations, especially those with a special focus on Italian foreign policy.

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