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President Meloni’s greetings to Italian military contingents deployed in Lebanon

Thursday, 28 March 2024

[The following video is available in Italian with English subtitles]

Good morning everyone.

Thank you. Thanks to General Fontana, thank you for this welcome. Greetings also to those connected from the Blue Line. I won’t take long. I came here today above all to say thank you, to say thank you on behalf of Italy for choosing to wear your uniform, thank you for understanding that wearing that uniform means knowing how to use your head as well as your heart, and thank you for your studies, as you also knew that wearing that uniform requires professionalism and know-how.

Thank you for accepting to come here, to Lebanon, where our armed forces have been a key part of the UNIFIL mission for decades. This mission is essential for our nation, in a land that is a cradle of great civilisations and that, for a long time, was also an example of how different traditions and different religious faiths can live together. Italy is linked to this nation by a long history of friendship and you know much better than I do that this nation also plays a fundamental role in the Middle East, fundamental in maintaining stability in the region. As you also know very well, in addition to the work we are doing as part of the United Nations mission, Italy is also committed here at bilateral level through the MIBIL mission, providing support and training to Lebanese security forces that in turn play an essential role in safeguarding this nation’s institutional framework.

This work was important yesterday, and has today become fundamental. This is a difficult time in the Middle East, in Europe; it is a difficult time at global level. Entire areas of the planet suddenly burst into flames and, when there is a fire, there is always the risk that the flames will spread too quickly from one tree to another and that, in the end, the fire cannot be contained. We must do all we can to prevent that risk and you form part of what we can do. We have to do everything possible, and you are part of that; you are the moat, the sand barrier that helps to prevent the fire from spreading.

The whole of Italy needs to be aware of this. Italy needs to be aware of what you guarantee with your sacrifices, because you’re not there to see your children grow up, you’re not there when your family gets together, reunites, for the holidays, you’re not there for your friends, you’re not there for your boyfriends, girlfriends, wives and husbands. You give up everything, and you do so to build and guarantee peace, which is a word that many people throw around from the comfort of their sofas, especially at this moment in time. Peace is not built on nice sentiments and nice words; peace is above all about deterrence, commitment and sacrifice.

And there can be no peace unless there is also respect. The respect that Italy has managed to build in nations and areas like this, a respect that is guaranteed by professionalism and humanity, by skills and expertise, but also by the ability to consider the needs of others, embodies our pride and forms the basis of the authority that Italy has built around the world and that allows people like us, like me, to assert Italian interests, because a good deal of the reputation we have in contexts like this one, most of it in fact, is based on the work that you do every day. 

However, I also know that this comes at a high price for you. In my own small way, I understand what it means not to be there for the people you love, simply because you have to do your job well, because you have to complete your mission. But there is a difference: I will be with my family on Easter Sunday and you won’t be. This is also why I am here, and I shall now come to a close, because if it is true that the homeland is like a mother, and that is indeed the case, then any mother who has a child far away goes to join them if she can when the holidays come along, to tell them: your family is here for you, your family is proud of you. I am very pleased to be able to have lunch with you today, like all families do, to remember that we are all connected, regardless of our specific duties, regardless of our role, regardless of our job; we all work for the good name of our family. We all work out of love for that family. 
Thank you.

[Courtesy translation]