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Diplomatic World_nummer 56.

potentialities to

potentialities to explore: From the innovation of the traditional “Made in Italy” to the attention to high-tech cooperation in sectors such as ICT, bio-technologies and space, with a particular regard to the start-up world. With reference to scientific cooperation, last November we have organized the first meeting of the Italian researchers in Belgium, in the presence of Philippe Busquin, former Belgian European Commissioner for Research from 1999 to 2004, and Massimo Inguscio, President of the Italian National Council for Research (Consiglio Nazionale della Ricerche, CNR). We have mapped out a very high number of professors, senior and junior researchers, who are a great asset for our work and represent natural bridges between the two Countries. Italian language is wide-spread in Belgium. It is taught in all the schools which are covered by the Partnership Charter signed between Italy and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, but also by the courses organized by the Italian Institute of Culture in Brussels, along with other associations. The historical and cultural links between Italy and Belgium are well known. The reciprocal influence of Italian and Flemish Renaissance is one of the many examples that we can take into consideration. The exhibition “Spanish Still Life”, which is currently at Bozar, shows how the Flemish and Italian models of “still life” had a great influence on the wider development of painting in Europe. We have a very active Italian Institute of Culture and our goal is to organize as many cultural events as we can in cooperation with Belgian cultural institutions. For instance, we are working together with the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB) to present the legacy of Rocco Chinnici, the Italian judge who set up the judiciary and investigative mechanisms which are still used today in the fight against organized crime. The event will include a panel discussion between Italian and Belgian experts and the screening of the movie on Rocco Chinnici, interpreted by famous Italian actor Sergio Castellitto. This year, we would also like to bring to Belgium a theatre piece called “Italiens. Quand les émigrés c’etait nous”, which will be shown in Brussels and Liège. The show, by telling the stories of many Italian migrants that have crossed the oceans and seas in the last centuries, has also an educational value by reminding us the never-ending 30 Venice, Italy, gondolas with snow in front of the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore © Shutterstock

Rome, Saint Peter’s Basilica after snowfall © Shutterstock importance of solidarity and respect for human rights. My mission is of course influenced by the extremely high number of second or third generation-Italians who are still living in the Country. Italians were traditionally concentrated in the Walloon Region, primarily Liège and Charleroi, to be employed in the coal mines. The catastrophe that occurred in Marcinelle on August 8, 1956, where 262 miners, of which 136 Italians, lost their lives is commemorated every year as the saddest page of the history of Italians in Belgium. Community in the Belgian society. Italians are active in every sector, from construction to catering, from academia to politics. Our aim is to map out the Italians currently working in the Belgian institutions, convinced as we are that the community of Italians in Belgium is a powerful network of contacts and a crucial tool for the promotion of our Country. Italian migration to Belgium is a story of suffering, but also of great success. Former Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo is the symbol of the well-succeeded integration of the Italian DISCLAIMER This interview took place before the elections of 4 March 2018. 31