Today’s featured guest of The Day’s column “Our Country through Foreigners’ Eyes” is Fabio Fabbri, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Ukraine. We asked him the following two questions:
1. What are your strongest impressions of Ukraine?
2. Can you list three reasons for falling in love with Ukraine?
Ambassador: (1) I first visited Kyiv 23 years ago, long before my diplomatic posting here. This was during Soviet times. When I visited Kyiv, I found an altogether different situation here, of course. I liked Kyiv very much. I said to myself, “What a beautiful city!” At the time I never dreamed of being sent here as ambassador to an altogether different Ukraine, an independent state. I still remembered the Soviet Union, but even before the Orange Revolution I could see that this was a totally different country, that there was a civil society. I saw this society during the Orange Revolution, which was a very significant event. I saw people who support European values. I think the Ukrainian people deserve more than they have. Much depends on the leadership. I hope the new government will be able to foster political and economic stability, and that Ukraine will move forward while making efforts to integrate with the European Union.
A number of events have taken place over the past four years. There are good political and economic relations between Italy and Ukraine, and the range of cultural cooperation is being expanded. Ukrainians love Italian music, opera, movies, fashion, and so on. I think that our mentalities are similar. In terms of the economy, Italy is one of Ukraine’s major partners in the European Union. I would like these relations to evolve on an ever greater scale. President Viktor Yushchenko plans to visit Italy next year. Important meetings will take place. I believe that much will be accomplished on an intergo0vernmental level to expand cooperation between our countries.
(2) It is always hard to say why you fall in love, especially if you have so many impressions. Of course, first and foremost it is Ukraine’s people and second, the culture. Third, I love many of your cities, particularly Kyiv, Odesa, and Lviv, as well as the Crimea with its amazing landscapes that remind me of some regions in Italy; the beauty of the Carpathian Mountains, and many other interesting places. I think it is worth taking a closer look at Ukraine.