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Jointly confronting wartime history Italy

17.03.2014 - Article

The aim of the German Italian intergovernmental consultations is the enhancement of bilateral relations. By seeking to confront wartime history, the two countries’ Foreign Ministers want to play their part in achieving this goal.

The aim of the 30th German Italian intergovernmental consultations on 17 March is further enhancing the close relations between Berlin and Rome. By seeking to jointly confront wartime history, the two countries’ Foreign Ministers want to play their part in achieving this goal.

The German‑Italian intergovernmental consultations in Berlin
The German‑Italian intergovernmental consultations in Berlin© picture alliance / dpa

Before the start of the intergovernmental consultations in Berlin, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi with military honours. He was accompanied by several Italian Ministers on his first visit to Berlin since taking up office. Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier and his Italian counterpart, Federica Mogherini, even travelled to the intergovernmental consultations together. The German Foreign Minister invited Mogherini to join him on his flight back to Berlin on the German Government aircraft after the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

Close German Italian dialogue

Foreign Minister Steinmeier and his Italian colleague used their joint trip to Berlin for an in depth discussion on world affairs. The main focus of their talks was the crisis in the Crimea. Apart from that, implementing the recommendations of the German Italian Commission of Historians was a main topic of their conversation. As Steinmeier explained before the start of the meeting, coming to grips with their shared wartime past was “of crucial importance to both countries”. According to Steinmeier this shared past was “the most difficult chapter in the long history of Germany and Italy”.

Laying the foundations for a shared culture of remembrance

“The establishment of the German Italian Commission of Historians by the two Governments was an important first step,” Steinmeier said. He went on to say that, in the coming years, the two countries wanted to continue their cooperation on implementing the Commission’s central recommendations in a spirit of trust. Steinmeier continued:

We reaffirm our goal to lay the foundations for a shared culture of remembrance between Germany and Italy. Consolidating the partnership between our two countries, we are determined to also jointly examine the difficult times in our history.

Steinmeier and Mogherini during the Libya conference in Rome (6 March)
Steinmeier and Mogherini during the Libya conference in Rome (6 March)© photothek

The German Italian Commission of Historians set up by Federal Minister Steinmeier and his then Italian counterpart Frattini in 2008 presented its final report in December 2012. The report contains recommendations to the two Governments on the creation of a shared culture of remembrance between Germany and Italy. In line with these recommendations, the Federal Foreign Office is funding remembrance projects in close coordination with the Italian Foreign Ministry relating to events from 1943 to 1945, as well as further research work in both countries.

This includes a permanent exhibition on the fate of Italian military internees at the memorial for National Socialist forced labour in the Niederschöneweide district of Berlin, a book of commemoration for the victims of military internment, an “atlas of violence” on the crimes of the SS and Wehrmacht in Italy as well as other remembrance projects initiated by victims’ associations and communities in Italy.

One million euros are earmarked in the Federal Foreign Office budget for the German Italian Future Fund in the draft federal budget for 2014. The funding is to be consolidated in the course of the current legislative term.

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