Letter from the Italian Embassy
1. Traditionally, the Italian Consular network
has been largely related to the consistency and needs of our communities
abroad. Wales was for a long period of time a destination of choice
for many Italian migrants, and a professional consul was therefore
appointed in Cardiff until 1978. The Consulate was also busy in
those times dealing with maritime transport duties related to
the important flow of coal exports towards Italy.
2. Taking into account the variations of
migratory trends and the budgetary constraints, in 1978 an Honorary
Vice Consul was appointed, reporting to the Consul General in
London. In fact, Italy has by now full consular posts in London
(about 90,000 Italian residents), Manchester (about 30,000), Edinburgh
(10,000) and Bedford (20,000); about 20 Honorary Consuls are appointed
in other towns and cities including Belfast and Cardiff (the Italian
residents in Wales are now about 3,000).
In assessing the Italian presence in Wales,
you should however also consider that Italy is sending six teachers
and a headmaster to teach Italian language in Welsh Schools as
well as a lecturer to Cardiff University; furthermore, the Italian
Chamber of Commerce in Britain is opening an outpost in Cardiff.
3. Looking a future perspectives, I would
like to stress that restructuring the consular network abroad
is, for Italy as for any other Country, a permanent "work
in progress". Nowadays, the Italian Foreign Ministry, while
always paying due attention to the needs of our communities, takes
into account a wider range of elements, including trade patterns
and investment opportunities, when deciding if it is appropriate
to open (or close) consular posts.
I am sure that the Italian Authorities will
be prepared to consider favourably an upgrading of the existing
Consulate in Cardiff, when reassessing the Italian consular network
abroad: I will personally recommend it, considering also the most
recent institutional developments. Naturally, a positive decision
will be influenced also by financial consideration, because, in
the last resort, it is the limited budget of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs that makes it necessary to limit the number of consular
offices in Europe, inline with a policy followed by all major
European Countries. In fact, also the number of British Consulates
in Italy has been greatly reduced, in the past few years.
I avail myself of this opportunity to convey
my sincerest regards.
21 December 2000