La diplomatie, c’est le visage qu’un pays veut se donner
Dominique de Villepin, former French prime minister
Gabriela Mistral, Saint-John Perse, George Seferis, Ivo Andric, Miguel Angel Asturias, Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz: Nobel prizes for literature and diplomats. Stendhal performed the duties of French consul in Civitavecchia when he had the inspiration that led him to write “The Red and the Black”.
Goethe, John le Carre, Giovanni Boccaccio (on behalf of Florence) were also diplomats, not unlike Dag Hammarskjöld, a poet, a mystic and Secretary-General of the United Nations for eight years, until his untimely death at 56 years old, in a plane crash.
The thing is, Culture is the habitat of human beings, the milieu allowing people to overcome language barriers, debate issues and work together to find solutions to common problems in an atmosphere of mutual trust.
Diplomacy is an art based on the premise that ignorance of the other is harmful and may only produce mistrust, confusion and suffering.
Openness to others, to learning, to listening – really listening – a different point of view, to critically examine one’s own beliefs is the heart of diplomacy, with a view to serve humankind and the greater good of this planet.
The Autonomous Province of Trento (PAT) already manages its own international relations, and the neighboring Autonomous Province of Bolzano (South Tyrol) is hailed as a model for solving or at least defusing ethnic conflicts throughout the planet.
Our region is, for all intents and purposes, a diplomatic micro-power and, before long, one out of ten of its inhabitants will be of foreign origin.
They will spontaneously forge cultural and commercial relations with their countries and continents of origin, which means that their active participation in the shaping of our future would be in our best interest.
Frederick Douglass, an African-American abolitionist and an advocate of universal suffrage extended to women, maintained that the fate of America was tied to the fate of black Americans. This applies equally to ourselves and our fellow citizens born and raised in foreign countries. In the years to come, we will have the opportunity to exercise some measure of influence in key areas such as sustainable development, cultural and linguistic pluralism, autonomy, protection of minorities, participatory democracy, requiring new integrations of the local with the global, tradition and modernity.
Let us not waste this providential chance!