Napolitano calls for greater European military integration
Italian president sees integration as way to optimize resources04 November, 12:23
In September, Defence Minister Mario Mauro announced that Italy planned to slash its military personnel by 20% in an unprecedented shift of spending priorities.
Napolitano wrote his comments in a message for National Unity and Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated on November 4.
''In a world that is always more complex and interdependent, the armed forces play a role of growing importance for the future of the country,'' Napolitano wrote. ''To render the capabilities requested of them compatible with reduced financial resources available, (the armed forces) have undertaken a radical process of reform,'' he continued.
''It is necessary to work even more intensely for the military integration of Europe. In the December European Council summit, Italy has the opportunity to promote strong and concrete initiatives, capable of launching virtuous circles for rationalization and resource savings,'' Napolitano concluded. Napolitano on Monday placed a laurel wreath at a Rome monument to mark National Unity and the Armed Forces Day.
The monument, known as the ''Vittoriano'' after the King Vittorio Emanuele II who was the first to rule over a united Italy, contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame, built under the statue after World War I.
The monument in Piazza Venezia is also known as the Altar to the Fatherland.
Italian Premier Enrico Letta, Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso, and Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini attended the ceremony, as did Defence Minister Mario Mauro.
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino, Lazio Governor Nicola Zingaretti and Roman Prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro were also present.