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Prime Minister Draghi’s speech at the ceremony to inaugurate ‘Remembrance Park’ in L’Aquila

Martedì, 28 Settembre 2021

President of the Council of Ministers Mario Draghi’s speech at the ceremony to inaugurate ‘Remembrance Park’ in L’Aquila, in memory of the 309 victims who lost their lives in the earthquake on 6 April 2009.

[The following video is available in Italian only]

Your Eminence,
Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi, 
Mayor Pierluigi Biondi,
Prefect Cinzia Teresa Torraco, 
Vice-President Emanuele Imprudente, 
Representatives of the Association of victims’ families
Honourable Members of Parliament,
All authorities present here today,
Ladies and gentlemen.

My presence here today is to reiterate, first and foremost, our duty of remembrance. 
The earthquake that hit L’Aquila on the night between 5 and 6 April 2009 belongs to the collective memory of Italy, and of the world.
Let us remember the 309 people who lost their lives – the 309 angels, as Mr Cinque [representing families of the victims] said –, and their loved ones, to whom my heartfelt sympathy still goes out today.
There were many children and young people among the victims, such as the eight students in their university halls of residence, who had come to the city to build their future.
My thoughts also go out to those who lost their homes, their businesses, or even simply the places dear to them where they would go to unwind. This earthquake – as is the case with all those that have hit our country – inflicted a deep wound in this community. 
We cannot forget.
We must not forget.

However, in addition to its responsibility for remembrance, the Government must also commit to take action. I am referring to post-earthquake reconstruction, which is progressing everywhere but at varying speeds.
In the city of L’Aquila, reconstruction work has been completed for over 80 per cent of private buildings, thanks to the use of innovative techniques and procedures, of which we must be proud.
In the other communities around the crater, on the other hand, this process has been much slower. Delays are above all affecting the reconstruction of public buildings, for which there is still not a comprehensive plan in place. I am referring to schools, hospitals, roads, offices and churches. These are the buildings that make a place a community. We must speed up this work; it is our moral obligation towards all of you as citizens. This is also a must if we wish to boost economic recovery in these areas.

The 2009 earthquake has led to losses estimated at over EUR 200 million per year, approximately 11% of the area’s overall added value, plus the damages then caused by the pandemic. Abruzzo’s social and productive fabric has nevertheless survived, despite these tragedies and difficulties. We must continue to provide our support.

The Government has decided to dedicate a specific investment line in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) to the areas in central Italy that were affected by the earthquakes in 2009, 2016 and 2017, worth EUR 1.78 billion. These funds will go towards safe and sustainable reconstruction work, environmental recovery and initiatives to support citizens and businesses. We will be launching this programme this week, with the approval of the provision to allocate resources among the various investment projects.

We have earmarked over EUR 1 billion to breathe life back into local communities and, in particular, to make our towns and villages safer, more sustainable and better connected. Another EUR 700 million will go towards economic and social development and revival. We are supporting innovative companies and intend to make the most of environmental resources and local production expertise, such as the agri-food sector and cultural, tourism and creative enterprises. We are establishing research and educational centres, such as the public administration technical training centre to be built in L’Aquila. These investments represent a concrete commitment to a fresh start.
Funding is necessary, but funding alone is not enough. Planning and administrative capacity is also required, as confirmed by the most successful examples of post-earthquake reconstruction, starting from L’Aquila.

We have established a governance model for the investments under the NRRP and the relative Complementary Fund. This model aims to simplify procedures and ensure close cooperation between central government and local authorities. Our goal is to build on the experience of mayors and regional and local administrators as well as of government task forces and commissions on the ground. You have all worked so patiently to revive these places, and the Government and the whole country are grateful to you. This is a very important point. Certain things can only be achieved if there is cooperation, we could even perhaps say osmosis, between the Government’s role and that of local entities and regional authorities. You are an example of how to do this successfully. 

The city of L’Aquila decided not to dedicate a traditional monument to the memory of the earthquake, but rather a park. An open-air space that symbolises the void left by those who died on that fateful night. However, this park is also a symbol of vibrancy. It will be filled with families and children who’ll play among these flower beds and fountains. A painful void to be filled with affection and remembrance. This park symbolises the need for a new lease of life, drawing strength from the memory of a tragedy. Today, conditions are finally ripe to do precisely that. 
Thank you.

[Courtesy translation]