‘I See Indian-Italian Relationship As A Dynamic One, Extended Over A Wide Spectrum Of Experiences’
Ambassador of Italy to India, Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte
What is your vision for Indian-Italian relationship and how do you plan to implement that? What do you see as your main challenges and how do you propose overcoming those?
I see Indian-Italian relationship as a dynamic one, extended over a wide spectrum of experiences. Trade and commerce have been expanding fast in the past decade. Italy is the seventh largest world exporter and its presence in India is widely felt. Some Italian products have been household names in India for decades: let me recall the Piaggio three-wheeler and the good old Fiat Padmini. The people-to-people dimension is also important: Italian tourists visit India in droves and the flow from India to Italy is steadily increasing. We have a growing resident Indian community in Italy too, the second largest in Europe in size, which is starting to leave its mark. Research institutions, universities in both countries have a keen interest in their respective studies and advances. Contacts are made easy by a natural affinity that Italians and Indians experience: we share an amazing historical heritage, a family based ...
society rooted in tradition and, last but not least, a passion for food.
As an Ambassador my role is to foster commonalities and encourage exchanges, political, economic or cultural. The main challenge to such a mission is the vastness of its ambition. But I feel that by setting priorities right and by clearly defining objectives, concrete results will be achieved.

 Nearly three years ago, India and Italy had signed a MoU for cooperation against international terrorism. What is the update on that?
India and Italy face the same menace of international terrorism. An Italian national died during the 2008 attack in Mumbai and another Italian was killed at the German Bakery in Pune in 2010. We must stand together and resist such barbaric acts. Bilateral cooperation is under way and some additional initiatives are in the pipeline, also within the context of EU-India relations. I am sure that this co-operation is going to further expand in the near future.

In the Italian perception, what initiatives must India take to further strengthen the bilateral relationship?

I reckon this is best left to my Indian friends! I believe the relationship is solid: beyond regular and important government-to-government contacts, people-to-people contacts in all fields are very strong. Any further step in those directions will be welcome.

India-Italy share good defence-industrial cooperation. How can this cooperation be strengthened further?

This is an instance where governments can make a difference, by encouraging defence-industrial ventures. The defence sector is by nature often dependant on state support. In order to create an atmosphere conducive to joint research and development, regular consultations at the level of armed forces, joint exercises, exchange of participants in training and Defence College courses can help enormously.
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