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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » May 31, 2012
ITALY IN POLAND
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We Share Common Values
May 31, 2012   
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Riccardo Guariglia, Italy’s ambassador to Poland, talks to Marcin Mierzejewski.

What are the main fields of political cooperation between Poland and Italy?
We have many fields of political cooperation between Italy and Poland. And this political cooperation is working very well and even improving. We share common values and views on European issues. Of course, austerity is something that we have already worked on, but now both our countries are working on boosting European growth. We want to work for employment and social equity. These are the main themes which are being discussed in Europe at the moment. Together with Poland we have a common view on the need for a communitarian approach to all the main European issues. I started my mission at the beginning of this year, just four months ago, and on Jan. 17 Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk went to Rome and met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Mario Monti. They had a very interesting discussion about European issues. And they found a very important synergy and commonality of views. And this is something very positive. We share common views also on other topics of political concern, for instance security. We have a very important common view on NATO issues. We now have the Chicago summit ahead of us and the Italian and Polish positions are very similar, also when it comes to operations like the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. And we share common views on some other regional issues, for instance the Middle East.

Italy is very much involved in the Middle East; Poland is also involved, and the views are very similar. But the same is true of our views with regard to other regions of the world.

What are your expectations ahead of the upcoming presidential visit?
The presidential visit is very important. This will be a “state visit,” the highest level possible for a political visit that one country exchanges with another. What are our expectations? First of all, we expect that the visit will confirm the strategic dimension of bilateral relations between Italy and Poland. This is extremely important and additionally facilitated by the personal friendship between Presidents Komorowski and Napolitano. And this strategic dimension goes far beyond the political sphere which we have just discussed. Because it also embraces the economic sphere, the cultural sphere, and the social sphere. There is really a common identity between the Italian people and the Polish people. The Polish people are the most Latin of the Slavic nations. This commonality of perception goes far beyond what is happening at present; it dates back centuries. Our shared history shows very clearly that there were ties, there were marriages, there were exchanges between Italy and Poland for centuries in the past. You can travel across Poland and see many hints of this Italian presence, of the Italian links in culture, arts and architecture. There are many buildings here that have been built or designed by Italian architects; there are many Italian paintings around; Italian music is very often played in Poland, and so on. Therefore, there is really a huge communality between Italy and Poland. And this, I would say, facilitates many of my tasks here in Warsaw, because I see that there is a natural affinity with Italy among all those I talk to. And I must say honestly that I found the same natural affinity towards Poland in Italy when I was preparing my mission to Warsaw.

You came to Poland just a few months ago. What were your first impressions of the country and its people?
I’ve been here for four months now. My first impressions were, of course, extremely positive. And I am sure that in the future they will be even more positive. Each day I am discovering and witnessing signs of Italian-Polish friendship, which are extremely positive. I have found Poland to be a very dynamic country, a pillar of stability, and the only country in Europe with positive economic growth. Poland is a country of young people, which is also very interesting. In the last few weeks I have also read many articles on Poland in the Italian press, on how Poland is an example to follow in Europe. Italian journalists understand that Poland is an interesting case that has to be highlighted and shown to the Italian public. Today’s Poland is far from what it was in the 1970s. I came to Warsaw for the first time in my life in 1975. And I still remember the very first days that I spent in Warsaw. It was a completely different city and Poland was a different country. So, for me, this recent, amazing evolution is something that I really appreciate. I’m happy to be here at this specific moment.

The summer vacation season is approaching, and more and more Poles travel to Italy these days. What region of your country would you recommend to them?
I think Italy is a very rich country and offers many things and many places of interest that can satisfy visitors with all kinds of preferences. If there is somebody looking for important cultural landmarks they go to Italy and there is a lot to visit. If you want to go to the seaside there are beautiful beaches, beautiful resorts and beautiful islands. If somebody likes the mountains there are beautiful sites in the Italian mountains, whether it’s the Dolomites or the Apennines. If somebody is looking for lakes there are beautiful lakes. If somebody is looking for cuisine, they go there and find tasty cuisine. So I think there is a big range of attractions that can satisfy everybody’s wishes. And I would say the same goes for Poland in terms of what it offers to Italians, because in Poland you can also find everything.

I would like to see tourism between our two countries even more enhanced in the future. And I am sure that the European soccer championships will help promote this bilateral exchange.
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