Friday, 28 April, 2023
11:30 - 12:30
Date: Friday 28 April
Event Start: 11:40
Venue: Central London Location
About this Event
The Grotius Prize
President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Government
Good morning to everyone.
It is my privilege and honour to address you on my first visit to the United Kingdom as Prime Minister of Italy.
I would like to express my gratitude for the invitation to this prestigious institution. Yesterday with my friend Rishi Sunak, we stressed our mutual belief in the importance of centres dedicated to cultural and political exchange like yours.
I would, therefore, like to warmly thank Lord Godson for thinking of me as the awardee of the Grotius Prize for 2023.
The nature, the symbolism and political meaning of this Prize and the values that inspire it are the foundation of the Western political communities and are at the core of our Nations.
We could consider Hugo Grotius as one of the fathers of the rules-based international order. Today, more than ever, freedom, peace, independence and sovereignty are principles worth re-affirming and – more importantly – fighting for, literally. Today more than ever we are called upon to defend these principles, the very foundations of the international law, without which we would be in a chaotic situation.
The Ukrainian people have proven that there is something stronger than missiles and tanks: the love for freedom, an unbreakable force, because it is born and grows within us.
As Winston Churchill once said: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope”. This is the true lesson that Ukrainian patriots have reminded each of us. On February 24th, 2022, the Russian Federation shocked the world by invading Ukraine. Putin’s goal was to make Ukraine a vassal-State, denying its national identity.
But that plan failed against the courage of those who love their Nation and are not willing to lose their identity, their sovereignty, their freedom It shattered against the reaction of the Free World, which did not hesitate for a moment to take sides. The reaction – united, strong, determined – showed how much we are willing to fight to reaffirm our founding values and defend our achievements. Values and achievements that should never be taken for granted.
The Russian aggression is not simply an act of war; it is an assault against the fundamental principles of civilization and we cannot allow the law of the strongest to overcome the strength of law. This is not exclusively an interest of Europe. This is the basis for peaceful coexistence of all nations.
I know that there are many who feel that Europe has, in the past, failed to acknowledge that the world’s problems are also ours. Until the past few years, our vision and action have been dramatically short-sighted. This should no longer be the case: we have to boldly tackle together the challenges of the Twenty First Century. Time Is Now!
Will the nations we call the “Global South” follow us? Most of the abstentions on UN Resolutions come from Africa and Asia. We cannot give the impression that we do not dedicate the right attention to other key strategic areas of the world. The rest of the world is watching us. We have to counter the risk of polarization between the North and South, “the West and the rest”. We need to identify new areas of cooperation with these Countries, with concrete offers, tailored to their needs.
This is why my Government is working to establish a model of cooperation with African Nations on an equal basis, an initiative called “Mattei Plan”, remembering the former CeO of Italy’s energy company ENI, whose birth date is celebrated tomorrow. The “Mattei Plan” for Africa is based on a strong refusal of the predatory approach of the past, and aims to cooperate with Africa to create its own prosperity through its many resources.
Dear Lord Godson, Dear Guests,
It is a time of uncertainty and crisis. A time in which all of us – as individuals, populations and Nations – have the opportunity to prove ourselves. A crisis can be the engine of a choice, of an action, of a change. From a crisis we can emerge stronger and freer. And we can track the direction of a new path. A path in which we must have the ability to preserve what is precious and irreplaceable. Our identity, our history, our values. The civilization we built.
We don’t stand with Ukraine because we like the war, we stand with Ukraine because what we want to defend is stronger than the fear of war.
Sir John Ronald Tolkien wrote: “I do not love the bright sword for its sharp edge, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for is glory. I love only that which they defend”.
The way is not to erase our home, it is not to give up our freedom, our values.
The way is to love our home and to make it even more solid and strong in bad weather.
Roger Scruton said it best: “The real reason why people are conservative is that they are attached to the things they love.”
This is the time ahead of us, this is the time we intend to live.