On September 25 the Russian-Italian conference on “Russia and Italy in the Dialogue of Cultures. To mark 110 years since the tragedy in Messina” was held in the Messina town hall.
Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky and Chairman of the Russian Geographical Society Sergey Shoigu sent their greetings to participants.
Matteo Salvini, Italian Minister of the Interior and one of the leaders of the Northern League, sent his verbal greetings via his assistant. The Minister appreciates the relations with Russia and hopes that the relations will get even closer thanks to the Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called.
Ennio Bordato, the well-known Italian public figure, President of “Help us save the children” Italian non-commercial organization and the man of honor of Beslan, also sent his welcome words for the round-table talks. In his address Mr.Bordato expressed hope that the fruitful humanitarian and cultural collaboration of Russia and Italy would be expanding and strengthening in the future.
Roberto Vincenzo Trimarchi, Advisor to the Mayor of Messina on education and school services, teaching and culture, welcomed the participants of the conference on behalf of the town authorities and thanked for the exhibition presented in the Messina town hall which was dedicated to the heroic act of Russian sailors.
Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of Saint Andrew the First-Called, delivered the key-note speech at the conference:
“Italy takes a particular place in the educational activity of the Foundation of Saint-Andrew the First-Called. The Foundation took part in installation of several monuments related to figures of the Russian history and culture on the Italian territory, such as Fyodor Ushakov, Alexander Suvorov, Nicholas II, Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak and Pietro Zveteremic who was the first translator of “Doctor Zhivago” into Italian. In 2012 the monument to commemorate the Russian sailors who had rescued over 2,000 people – the victims of the Messina earthquake – was erected. There had been plans to install the monument 100 years ago. We believe the cultural dialogue is held not by the states but by representatives of the public from different countries and nations”.
Vladimir Yakunin reminded that “by the year 1908 the relations between Italy and the Russian Empire were rather strained. Russia was a member of The Entente while Italy was part of The Triple Alliance. In case of war, which was highly likely, if the troops of Austria-Hungary occupied the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia and Italy could face the conflict. The Italian society had no warm feeling towards the Russian Empire at the time. During the Russo-Japanese war the country supported Japan for sure.
After the Messina earthquake, when the Russian sailors saved its victims, the general atmosphere changed completely. Italian newspapers and magazines printed headlines like “Viva Russia, Viva Nicholas II!” First Secretary and Advisor to the Russian Embassy in Italy Baron Modest Korf reported to Saint-Petersburg about the overall feelings of affection for Russia that the Italian society expressed. The changes in the public opinion resulted in political changes. Historians who studied the Russian-Italian Racconigi Bargain signed by Russian Czar and Italian King in 1909 came to the unanimous conclusion that it became possible only after the Messina event.