Palazzo del Quirinale 16/10/2006

Press statement by the President of the Republic of the occasion of the state visit of the President of the Republic of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor


Quirinale Palace, 16 October 2006

I was very pleased to welcome President Kufuor to the Quirinale Palace along with his delegation. His presence in Italy bears witness to the friendship binding our two peoples and renders the relationship between our nations more solid.

This relationship is founded not only on an expanding network of contacts and political, economic and cultural relations, but also on shared principles and values centred on the safeguarding of human rights, rule of law and confidence in dialogue and the multilateral approach. It is no accident that Ghana and Italy are among the major contributors to UN peacekeeping operations and that we are both leaders in the processes of regional integration in our respective continents. Neither is it by chance that President Kufuor's State visit is the first to take place during my mandate. This is Italy's acknowledgement of a nation and a Statesman who have unhesitatingly undertaken the path of democracy, of the strengthening of pan-African institutions and of sustainable economic development. I conveyed to the President Italy's appreciation for Ghana's institutional solidity-a model for the other countries of the continent-for the vitality of its civil society and its vigorous economic growth, which is the fruit of prolonged political stability and proof that economic and social development are best fostered by peace. I also expressed my conviction that the time is ripe to make a decisive leap in quality in our bilateral relations. We can rely on solid foundations.

Collaboration is intense at the political level: we discussed our common engagement in Lebanon, our common support for the NEPAD programme, for UN efforts on behalf of human rights and peace, and for the G8 debt reduction initiatives and the training of peacekeeping personnel. Italy has long had an economic presence in Ghana. Major works undertaken by Italian entrepreneurs and technicians include the Akosombo dam on the Volta River, which on its completion in 1965 became what at the time was the largest artificial lake in the world, the Tema Refinery, urban areas and public buildings such as the Parliament and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra. Trade is also brisk. Thus all the conditions are right for turning an already excellent relationship into a stable and structured cooperation.

President Kufuor and I also reviewed the most important international themes, with particular regard to issues concerning the African continent, including the main crises under way and their impact on the continent's stability and economic development. We agreed that Africa's problems must never be given second billing: civil wars and appalling human tragedies such as that of Darfur cannot fail to draw the full attention of the international community. In this context, Ghana's efforts within the framework of sub-regional organisations and President Kufuor's personal mediation in numerous conflict situations have been unanimously appreciated and offer hope.

Finally, our meeting gave me an opportunity to reiterate Italy's commitment to peace and development in Africa at both bilateral level and within the contexts of the United Nations, the European Union and the G8. It was, and is, my wish to underscore that Europe has no other choice but to form a strong and lasting partnership with Africa, and that this is in its own interests. Africa's problems are ours as well; they are global problems that we must face together. Indeed, only together may we hope to win the battle against hunger and disease, fight terrorism and fundamentalism, halt unchecked competition for the planet's resources and improve the living conditions for hundreds of millions. Italy and Ghana stand ready to do their part.