Italian premier assures govt behind Milan Expo 2015
Letta admits country often 'self-defeating' after RAI row25 October, 12:17
(ANSA) - Milan, October 25 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta this week admitted that Italy is at times "self-defeating" but assured that Milan Expo 2015 will be a good opportunity for the country to show its best side, and reiterated the Italian government's commitment to turn the spotlight on Milan for the food-themed universal exposition.
Milan and other parts of Italy's north often complain of a Rome-centric public sector, particularly when it comes to public investment.
"Sometimes we are self-defeating, but this is a good opportunity for Italy, and the whole world will be watching us" Letta said on Wednesday during an interview with RAI News 24.
"Milan will be the capital of Italy, and I am sure it will be a success," assured Letta.
Doubts over the political capital's commitment flared tempers this week, as news broke that Italian State broadcaster RAI plans to base its coverage of Milan Expo 2015 from Rome, located nearly 600 km away from the event.
RAI reached a five-million-euro deal with Milan Expo 2015 to broadcast the event in Italy and abroad, the parties announced in July.
A new entity, RAI-Expo, is being created to manage broadcast coverage of the fair.
"The first warning signal that we ask of RAI is inevitably to rethink the choice of Rome as headquarters for the platform RAI-Expo, and to locate it in Milan," said Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia in Thursday post to his Facebook page.
"It appears difficult to understand how a structure with the objective to promote and valorize the Milan Universal Exposition does not have its operations located in the city of the event," Pisapia added.
Coverage of the food-themed world fair will be incorporated into existing programming and special transmissions, explained Expo Chief Executive Giuseppe Sala and RAI Managing Director Luigi Gubitosi.
Letta expressed ''particular satisfaction'' with the agreement at the time, adding that ''another significant piece of the puzzle'' had fallen into place.
The strategic importance of RAI coverage of the fair was underlined by a meeting organized Friday at Milan's union-based Chamber of Labor entitled, "Milan RAI. The future goes Expo" with participants including Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni, RAI Managing Director Luigi Gubitosi and European Industry Commissioner Minister Antonio Tajani.
The theme of the six-month event, which begins May 1, 2014 and continues through October 31 of that year is ''Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life''.
The Italian government has high hopes that the world's fair will inject some much needed money into the recession-plagued economy.
"Expo has the certainty of (public) financial backing, and of the fact that the whole country must be involved. It is a national commitment, which is fundamental," said Letta in the RAI interview on Wednesday.
Letta commented in July that RAI's involvement is one of the ''best guarantees'' that the world's fair will provide a major economic boost.
''We are convinced that the Expo...will be at the heart of the recovery in Italy,'' he said.
The success of the Milan event should have a far-reaching ripple effect through the economy for longer than its six-month run, said Sala.
There are 140 countries that have signed up to participate, according to Maurizio Martina, the Italian undersecretary responsible for Milan Expo 2015.
"As much as 97% of the Asian populations will be represented by their own countries, while adhesion is great also among African countries," Martina said on Thursday, speaking at the inauguration of the academic year in a university in central Italy.