Tomorrow, June 2, we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our Republic. We will do it in a climate where we experience both feelings of uncertainty and reasons to hope. Caught between the pain of the tragedy that suddenly came upon us and the desire for a new beginning. A new season where we are able to emerge from this sort of global nightmare as soon as possible.
Many of us feel the poignant memory of people who have passed away due to the coronavirus: family members, friends, colleagues. Oftentimes without a last farewell.
To all the victims, to those who died alone, to the memory of the many loved ones lost, we wish to dedicate this concert with maestro Daniele Gatti and the orchestra of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, whom I thank profusely for their participation.
Alongside the pain for the losses and the suffering we have endured, day by day we feel a growing desire for recovery and rebirth, both civil and economic.
The birth of the Republic in 1946 also marked a new beginning. Overcoming divisions that had torn the country apart, to make the Republic a home for everyone, founded on the values of freedom, peace and democracy.
Political forces, which had been divided, distant and held many opposing views, found ways to collaborate in the drafting of our Constitution, coming together in the shared values and principles upon our democracy was to be based.
That bipartisan spirit embodied the main driving force behind Italy’s rebirth. It united Italians, beyond affiliations, in the belief that the extremely difficult condition which the country had plunged to could only be faced together.
This substantial moral unity was the real bond that gave birth to and held the Republic together. It is what distinguishes us, to this day, as joined by a common destiny.
Then we reacted to the mourning, suffering and destruction of the war. Today we must fight an enemy that is invisible, in many ways unknown, unpredictable, which has upset our consolidated existences and habits. It forced us to end social relationships, to close schools. It put many life plans and work projects at risk. It has put the production structure of our country to the test.
This day may be regarded as a symbol of our beginning anew.
In these three months I have received and read hundreds of messages of concern but also of empathy, of trust, of hope.
We must be fully aware of the difficulties we face. The ascent will not be swift, the reconstruction will be demanding, in some ways painful. Courage and prudence will be needed. The courage to look beyond the limits of the emergency, thinking about the future and what needs to change. And prudence to contain a possible return of the virus, learning to safely coexist with it for the time needed for science to defeat it once and for all.
Timeliness and foresight will be needed. To offer support and answers to those who have been hardest hit. And to plan medium and long-term investments and interventions, which will give solid prospects for the country’s recovery.
We have said many times that we Italians have the qualities and strength to be able to pass this test too. Just as we rebuilt the country seventy years ago.
We have seen it in the past weeks.
We have seen for ourselves the solidarity, generosity, professionalism, patience and respect for the rules. On many occasions we have rediscovered, day by day, skills that to some seemed hidden or tarnished, such as the sense of the State and altruism.
In our most difficult moment, we have rediscovered the true face of the Republic.
Now it would be unacceptable and unforgivable to disperse this heritage, made up of the sacrifice, pain, hope and the need for trust that lies within our people. Above all, the memory of doctors, nurses and health workers who have fallen victim to the virus in the past weeks beseeches us not to.
We are proud of what all the health and essential service workers have done, whom – putting their own health at risk – have allowed our entire national community to breathe while most of the activities were closed. We are grateful to the teachers for distance learning, to the entrepreneurs who, in just a few days, reconverted their production lines to supply the goods needed to ensure health safety, to the women and men in the Police Force, both national and local, to the Civil Protection, to the many volunteers, who guaranteed safety and support in the emergency.
I am aware that these behaviours have sometimes been contrasted by others by those who have tried and try to exploit the emergency. Any such behaviour must be rigorously ascertained and severely repressed, but fortunately they form a very small minority in our society.
This June 2 invites us to reflect upon what is, on what the Republic of today wants to be.
This day interpellates all those who have an institutional responsibility – beginning with me of course – about the duty to live up to that pain, that hope, that need for trust.
It is not a matter of thinking to suspend or cancel the normal political dialectic. Democracy lives and feeds on confrontation between different positions.
But there is something that comes before politics and that marks its limit.
Something that is not available to any majority and to any opposition: moral unity, sharing a single destiny, feeling responsible for each other. One generation with the other. One territory with the other. A social environment with the other. All part of the same story. Of the same people.
Allow me once again to invite you to find the many reasons for a common effort, which does not lessen the differences in political position or the diversity of institutional roles.
We are all called to a common commitment against a very serious danger that has affected our Italy from a health, economic and social perspective.
The suffering caused by illness must not be brandished against each other.
This profound feeling, which I feel in our fellow citizens, calls for respect, seriousness, rigor, sense of proportion and attachment to institutions. And it is required from everyone, especially from those with greater responsibilities. Not just on a political level.
We are called to difficult choices.
We are not alone. Italy is not alone in this difficult ascent. Europe shows that it has rediscovered the original spirit of its integration. The awareness that solidarity between the countries of the Union is not one of many choices but the only possible way to successfully face the most serious crisis that our generations have experienced is becoming increasingly evident. No country will have an acceptable future without the European Union. Not even the strongest. Not even the least affected by the virus.
Now it also depends on us: on our intelligence, on our cohesion, on the ability we will have make effective decisions.
I am convinced that together we will make it. That the bond that holds us together will be stronger than the tensions and difficulties.
But I also know that this happening is dependent upon the fact that the sole purpose of everyone participating in the reconstruction that awaits us is the pursuit of the good of the Republic as the good of all. None excluded.
Tomorrow I will go to Codogno, a symbolic place of the beginning of this tragic period, to pay homage to all the victims and to attest to the courage of all the Italian women and men who, with courage and self-denial, stood in the frontlines, often in extreme conditions, of the fight against the coronavirus.
I wish to thank each and every one of them. Italy – throughout this emergency – has put its best face forward.
I am proud of my country.