Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi held a photo opportunity today at the bottom of her meeting with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi. Below is a transcript of the photo opportunity:
Leader Pelosi. Well, good day. Thank you for being here as I welcome to the Capitol, officially and personally, a dear friend, the Foreign Minister of Italy, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi. It’s an honor and a pleasure to welcome him here – back to the Capitol where he’s visited many times as Italy’s Ambassador to the United States before. I especially want to acknowledge that Foreign Minister Terzi is here, among other reasons, to kick off the celebration of 2013 “Year of Italian Culture in the United States.” A whole year.
Starting tonight, and throughout 2013, we’ll have the opportunity to mark the extraordinary contribution made by Italy to America and to global culture built around the theme of “research, discovery, and innovation.” Moving forward, we will move together on – separate from that, I just want to hold up this book because as an Italian American I’m very, very proud of this year that we’ll be celebrating.
[Leader Pelosi Raises Book Dedicated To 2013 Year Of Italian Culture In The United States]
I also have said to the Foreign Minister that there’s so much of Italy in America. Not just the Italian-American people, but also the Italian-American culture, which we gravitate to, whether it’s music, or food, or science, or sports, or whatever it is, the contribution is a great one.
While the Foreign Minister is here, it’s important to note that we want to work together for our shared interests. They are our strong NATO ally, as you know. We want to work together for the growth and the stability of the global economy, the security of Afghanistan – Italy still has 4,000 troops there – the alleviation of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and other challenges of international security and economic growth.
The ties between our two countries – as I have taken pride in saying over and over again – are rooted deep in American history – a country founded by an Italian, named by an Italian, and developed by tens of millions of Italian Americans in our country. We represent millions of bridges, we meaning Italian-Americans, millions of bridges between Italy and the United States.
Thank you, Foreign Minister Terzi, for reaffirming our nations’ common faith in the future and a further commitment to the values of justice, freedom, economic prosperity, and peace. I look forward to continuing our work together to appreciate the relationship between the United States and Italy and having that relationship be a force for peace and growth and for goodwill for all people in the world and in our two countries.
With that, I am very pleased to yield the floor to a distinguished diplomat – before I do, I want to acknowledge that Italy and the Foreign Minister, we missed him when he left us as Foreign Minister, sent us a very distinguished diplomat to serve as the Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero, he and his wife represent Italy with great dignity and experience as diplomats. And we are proud to say to the Foreign Minister that while we miss him, he is well represented here.
Mr. Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Terzi. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you Madam Leader. Thank you very much Madam Leader, for your words. Dear Nancy, I’m very pleased, honored, and moved to be here with you at the Capitol to mark the beginning of 2013, the year of Italian culture in the United States. I [am] moved especially because of the great affection that you have for my country, for Italians, for Italians, for Italian-Americans, for the Italian-American organization, but for Italy as such, and for – I [would] like also to bring to you, at the same time, the great affection of the Italian people, but also the enormous esteem and consideration that the Italian government has for your work, your leadership, and also the reference that you represent for so many Italian-Americans here, for their culture, for [their] contribution to this great country.
The idea of having a whole year, 2013, dedicated to the Italian culture in the United States and to have this event under the auspices, under the patronage of the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, derives from the fact that this is a moment where the countries of the world, but especially countries like Italy and the United States, which are basing their histories, their legacies, but are also betting on their future on fundamental values for our people and for our societies, is exactly the moment when we think that culture can make a difference. A difference for the future generations, for the commitment of so many young people, who cooperate already across the two borders of the Atlantic, the two sides of the Atlantic, to improve and to make better conditions for our world.
So, Italian culture in the United States means and will represent a very large array of projects, programs, which start from the legacy of the Risorgimento. This morning, just a few hours ago, we have presented to the nation at National Gallery of Art a David-Apollo, an extraordinary masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, a sculpture representing David-Apollo, because it is a work which was not completely finished by Michelangelo, but in the sense it creates also the meaning of continuity in our culture in the values of the Renaissance.
But why did we decide to bring here this fantastic masterpiece? Because in 1949, when Europe was recovering from the disaster of World War II and when Italy was so deeply, so strongly helped by the Americans, as a sense of recognition and thanking the American President, Harry Truman, in 1949, the Italian government sent this David-Apollo to Washington for the inauguration of Harry Truman. Now, we are bringing again, for the second time, the same statue for the inauguration of the year of Italian culture here in the United States. And from there I think we can develop and we can explain the philosophy of this huge project.
More than one hundred and eighty programs, all across the United States, in the biggest and the smallest cities in the United States, the cities which are so important also for the Italian American communities. And we have important projects in music, art, opera, visual art, theatre, but especially looking at the future we want to show and to demonstrate, how the importance of our tradition is reflecting on research, innovation, and discovery. And that is also something that is going to be very prominent in this year of celebration for our two countries. Thank you very much, Madame Leader, for what you are doing. Your commitment is very important to the relations and friendship between our counties. It would take many words to stress how important it is also for the cooperation of our countries, for the development, prosperity of all Europeans, and all peoples of the world in peace and security.
Leader Pelosi. I’m also very pleased that when President Obama issued his statement on Columbus Day, he referenced the 2013 year of Italian culture in America. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for making that possible. I think you may want to have some questions for the Foreign Minister?
Q: What is your first immediate quote, if you had to think about Italian culture? What it is it that comes to your mind if you had to define what you described?
Leader Pelosi. Excellence. Beauty. The best. The best. We stand here in the Capitol of the United States, where people come from around the world to visit this temple of freedom, this beacon of democracy, and it’s important to note that much of the beauty that you see in the Capitol was painted by the artist Brumidi, who was born in Italy, and commissioned to do some churches and the rest in America, and then the dome of the Capitol of the United States. So, every day we are inspired by that beauty, and how the talent and virtuosity of his artistry captured the spirit of America. So, if you are asking for a word, you know I feel within myself, in terms of my, I’m 100 percent Italian-American and the first woman Speaker of the House, but [also] the first Italian-American Speaker of the House. So all of that adds up to I guess a word, I would say: pride. I’m very proud.
Q: And as a cabinet member of the Democratic Party in America, what is your reaction to Mr. Berlusconi’s decision to run again? Are you surprised?
Leader Pelosi. Well, I just comment on politics in the United States. I will leave it to the Foreign Minister to talk about politics in Italy. I have enough to do here.
Q: Madam Leader, on that front, can you tell us what you think of the President’s latest counteroffer to the Republicans on the fiscal cliff?
Leader Pelosi. You know what? I’ll be more than happy to answer those questions, but this subject right now is why we’re gathered here to start this year. Later on we’ll probably have a pull aside, and we’ll talk about the subject at hand here, which is the budget. It is a challenge that all of our countries face, and we hope to resolve our challenge in a short time. But, in any case, right now we’re focusing on 2013. Not only that, but the long relationship between Italy and the United States.
Foreign Minister Terzi. Thank you Madame Leader. If I may, I would like to answer the question put to Madam Leader by Mario Platero. What comes to mind when you talk about Italian culture? And it’s very important, what Madam Pelosi said. Beauty, this fantastic work of art by Brumidi, the contribution of neoclassicists, neo-palladio, and just look around, it is very, very impressive and very evident of an Italian legacy. But I want to stress one point in particular: the key factor in Italian culture is represented by the Italian language.
Italian, L’Italiano, it is a fact, is the root, has been the root of Italian unity and the concept of Italy itself, which dates back six centuries at least, if not seven, before the unification of Italy. The language was there in the thirteenth century with Dante Alighieri, Boccaccio, and many others. And it is an enormous wealth for the country. It is a language which is increasing in the United States and in the world; it is the only European language, together with Spanish, that has increased over the past ten years. And it is important to notice the commitment of Italian American organizations and many Italian companies in bringing back Italian to as many high schools as possible, with a system of credit which is possible through the advanced placement program. So, I wanted to stress the importance of the Italian language because it comes to this project, to this wide program of activity.
Just an example, an Italian artist and director, Maximiliano Floris, he is having a number of performances, in fact, a dozen performances across the United States, presenting Pinocchio. Everyone knows the story of Pinocchio. And he does that in Italian. And all of his performances are sold out, very crowded, because even people who have a superficial knowledge of Italian like to listen and to understand these Italian representations of Pinocchio. So the importance of Italian culture in this program and in general, is Italian language for Italian culture, in this program, and in general for the relationship between Italy and the United States.
[Italian Journalists Ask Minister Terzi Questions]
[Photo Opportunity Concludes]