Italy’s president optimistic about 2022

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Rome (dpa) – Despite coronavirus and sharply rising infection figures in Italy, President Sergio Mattarella exuded optimism in the last New Year’s Eve speech of his term. 

“Looking at the path we have managed together in these seven years, I am full of confidence,” said the politician, who is quitting after one term at the head of state, as is customary in Italy. 

“Italy will grow,” the 80-year-old said. “And it will do so above all in the awareness of a common destiny for our people and for the peoples of Europe.” 

His mandate expires at the beginning of February.

At the same time, Mattarella appealed to the citizens of the Mediterranean country to continue to rely on vaccinations in the fight against the pandemic, which could protect themselves and others from serious harm. 

He recalled the first months of the pandemic, when there was no vaccine, dead bodies were taken away in military trucks, schools, offices and shops were closed and clinics were on the verge of collapse.

“What would we have given to have a vaccine back then?” the politician asked. “Research and science, much earlier than we could have hoped, have now given us that opportunity. To waste it is an insult to all those who didn’t have it and those who still don’t have access today.” 

By the end of 2021, 81.5 per cent of people in Italy had received at least one vaccine dose.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi praised Mattarella’s address and the call for national unity, solidarity and patriotism. “These are words that touch the heart of all citizens,” Draghi said, speaking of the “best New Year’s wish for Italy.”

The head of government is himself considered a candidate to succeed Mattarella as head of state. Despite many enquiries, Draghi has so far not said anything concrete about plans to either stay in the government or take over the presidency.

Dpa

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