Introductory Remarks at the Luiss Diplomatic Forum 2023
The Dome – LUISS Campus
February 13, 2023
(As prepared for delivery)
Buonasera a tutti.
Thank you, Rector Prencipe for your kind words of welcome. And thank you to your colleagues at Luiss, Vice President Severino and Prorector Marchetti. My warmest regards to Ambassador Zappia in Washington and to Foreign Minister Tajani and Secretary General Sequi.
It is a testament to the excellence of Luiss University that such distinguished speakers and panelists are here today to discuss the future of transatlantic relations. Italy’s close people-to-people, economic, and security ties to the United States make our bilateral relationship one of the pillars of the broader transatlantic community.
Few events have impacted the transatlantic relationship as much as Russia’s full-scale, unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Next week marks the one-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s attack on a neighboring country in clear violation of international law and the UN charter. Putin thought he could roll over Kyiv and that the transatlantic community was too divided to respond. To Putin’s surprise, the Ukrainian population have defended themselves effectively with courage and ingenuity. To Putin’s consternation, the transatlantic community has rallied to assist the people of Ukraine. To Putin’s dismay, his attempt to annex another country’s territory will fail.
During last week’s State of the Union address, President Biden asked, “Would we stand for the right of people to live free from tyranny? Would we stand for the defense of democracy?” Our clear response to these questions speaks volumes about the kind of world in which both Americans and Europeans want to live. It has led to the acceleration of changes to Europe’s security and economic orders. One change has been a revitalization of NATO. Our Alliance is stronger when it stands united and on two legs. Russia’s attack has done more to advance these goals than perhaps any other event since the Alliance was formed. A second change has been a renewed commitment by Europeans to invest the resources required for the capabilities needed to defend ourselves. A third change has been a renewed focus on the importance of security for energy resources and supply chains, topics I know are important to every person and business facing high energy prices and inflation.
Transatlantic teamwork is needed to address each of these changes, even on areas where we sometimes have different paths toward the same goal. For example, some European states have raised questions about the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, which will address the global climate change. We believe there are opportunities for European firms in the IRA, as well as benefits to EU energy security. We are discussing our respective positions in a joint task force with the European Union and have already made progress on certain issues.
Italy has been a key leader of the international coalition supporting Ukraine. The Italian people welcomed nearly 170,000 Ukrainian refugees. Italy has donated millions in humanitarian assistance, including help in restoring vital utilities damaged in a Russian campaign to deny the Ukrainian people heat and water. Italy has provided vital equipment to allow the Ukrainians to defend their families, their cities, and their independence. Italy has also led the way in encouraging other EU states to offer Ukraine a real European perspective. As Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said when she was here in December, Italy’s willingness to stand up for the values it holds dear have reinforced its position as a leader in NATO, the EU, and the G7.
Strengthening the broader transatlantic relationship is one of the main goals identified by the U.S. National Security Strategy. President Biden has prioritized the broadening and deepening of the transatlantic bond to pursue a common global agenda. To do this, the United States is committed to strengthening NATO, raising the level of ambition in the U.S.-EU relationship, and standing with our European partners in defense of the rules-based system that underpins our security, prosperity, and values.
The transatlantic alliance is stronger together. We are more prosperous together. We are better able to defend our common values together. These points were true in the past, and they remain true as we work together on paving the future of the transatlantic relationship. Grazie.