Switzerland welcomed as Letta makes Expo 2015 pledges
Premier says work proceeding on schedule13 September, 16:02
"We appreciate the decision of Switzerland to attend Milan Expo 2015," Bonino said during a press conference in Bern with her Swiss counterpart, Didier Burkhalter.
During a recent bilateral session, Bonino and Burkhalter talked of topics ranging from energy to infrastructure and financial services.
On Friday Letta travelled to Milan to inspect the construction site for the 2015 World's Fair along with Expo Commissioner Giuseppe Sala.
Letta said that he wanted to get a better sense of how preparations for the massive event were proceeding.
The premier indicated that he was pleased with the progress of preparations for Expo, which he said are on target and on schedule, and he noted how critical the event is to Italy. "Expo is an important national objective," Letta said.
Meanwhile, Expo's top official noted that the World's Fair in 2015 will bring together as many as 100 heads of states and about 700 senior government ministers and officials, along with Italian leaders, over the course of the event.
Such levels of participation and collaboration have probably not been seen since Italy's unification more than 150 years ago, noted Sala.
"Expo is not the panacea for all ills, but it is an extraordinary opportunity to conduct diplomacy and to present Italy to the world," Sala said earlier this week. "We must out our best face forward".
Spending on such an undertaking, which is shared between the national government and local authorities, is high.
But Expo organizers estimate that, while the cost could reach 1.8 billion euros, direct investment in the project by countries participating in the event could bring in about one billion euros - as well as many benefits in terms of jobs and tourism. As much as 300 tonnes of food per day will be needed during the fair, which Sala said will bring as many as 150,000 visitors per day throughout its 184-day duration.
The Milan Expo, which runs May 1 until October 31 2015, is expected to attract more than 20 million visitors in total and to be a massive money spinner for the city known as Italy's business capital.
Preparations on a 1.1-million-square-meter site have been underway for years.
Also on Friday, France signed on to participate and earlier in the month, the Maldives archipelago also agreed to take part.
It will be grouped with other sea and island countries that are focused on discussing themes related to the resources offered by seas and oceans. This dovetails with the Milan Expo's theme: "Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life", which centres on fighting hunger and malnutrition worldwide through sustainable and healthy development, global cooperation and new technology.
Expo organizers say they are pleased that they have already exceeded their goal of signing on 130 countries.
The nations that have signed on so far range from Russia and Turkey to Germany, Switzerland, Peru, Guatemala, Argentina, Egypt, Japan, Congo, Ghana, South Korea, Gambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and the Vatican City.