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By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Italian Ambassador discusses European affairs at Elliott School

Max Wang | Hatchet Photographer
Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio spoke to students and faculty as part of the Elliott School’s Ambassador Forum on Tuesday.

Armando Varricchio, the Italian ambassador to the United States, spoke about Italy’s role in the development of the European Union at the Elliott School of International Affairs Tuesday night.

About 50 students and faculty attended the event as a part of the Ambassador Forum — which hosts ambassadors from around the world for discussion and a question and answer session. Varricchio discussed the European Union’s fate after Brexit and the rise of Euroscepticism across the continent.

He said that the history of the European Union and its many benefits to Italy were significant in Italian and European history, especially because he was speaking on April 25, Italy’s Liberation Day.

“This is for me, for my fellow Italians, a very important day because it was April 25 of 1945 that Italy regained its freedom after the dark years of military occupation and fascism,” Varricchio said. “And those very ideas that were true seventy years ago are true today.”

The ambassador criticized the idea that the EU tries to eliminate national identities through integration, noting that the organization’s motto is “Unity in Diversity.”

“We believe that by respecting and cherishing our own national cultures and histories, it is possible to do something stronger and more effectively,” Varricchio said.

Varricchio acknowledged that the EU has made mistakes in the past, like making decisions behind closed doors in Brussels without input from citizens. But one of the primary dangers of Euroscepticism is that it leaves the door open for the same attitudes that resulted in two global wars, he said.

“We Europeans always have an eye on the rear mirror,” Varricchio. “We always have to remind ourselves where we are coming from, and not to repeat what has happened before.”

Harvey Feigenbaum, a professor of political science and international affairs who moderated the event, asked the ambassador several questions about the Italian view of populism and Euroscepticism.

Varricchio said that populist candidates, like those in France, produce fear among citizens about migration and terrorism. He said that citizens must realize that integration makes every country stronger.

“Italy has always played a special role in Europe,” Varricchio said. “It has always been a unique place of dialogue and a need to understand others.”

While taking questions from the audience, Varricchio said that young Italians need to return to work and that the decisions of the new generation will have a huge impact on Europe in the coming years.

“We will not be able to preserve what we have done unless we have this new generation,” Varricchio said. “It is important to travel. Man has always traveled the world but you can be a proud Italian, proud European and proud citizen of the world.”

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