Made in Italy: the Navy's Cavour, on a Gulf and African tour

Trade, diplomatic and humanitarian mission to promote Italy

05 November, 16:09

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, NOVEMBER 5 - In a new campaign that is at once commercial, diplomatic and humanitarian, the Italian Navy's Cavour aircraft carrier will set sail November 13 for a six-month tour that will take it to 13 African countries and seven Persian Gulf nations. Presented Tuesday in Rome, the 20-million-euro operation is sponsored by the defense, foreign, economic development, culture and tourism ministries, the Italian foreign trade commission (ICE), and the Expo 2015 world fair.

    Strategic partners such as Italian oil and gas corporation ENI, aerospace, defense and security industrial group Finmeccanica, Pirelli tire manufacturer, multinational aerospace manufacturer Piaggio Aero Industries, and the Italian Federation of Wood, Cork, Furniture and Furnishing Industries, FederLegnoArredo, will foot most of the bill, or 13 million euros.

    ''The remaining seven million will cover personnel wages'', Navy Chief of Staff Giuseppe De Giorgi explained.

    The Italian Red Cross will be on board with 60 volunteers, as well as Operation Smile, a children's charity that treats facial deformities such as cleft lips and cleft palates, and the Francesca Rava Foundation, a children's rights NGO. The idea is to promote Italy in all its guises, from high tech to fashion, from food to design. In its military aspect, the Cavour's crew will be engaging in anti-piracy and merchant marine protection.

    It will also assist local navies develop and modernize, Defense Chief of Staff Luigi Binelli Mantelli added.

    ''Our armed forces make an important contribution to our foreign policy. With this project, we are showcasing Italy's national economic system, with its extraordinary products'', Defense Minister Mario Mauro explained. ''We aim to make our country competitive again''.

    Italian embassies at each port of call will be on ''high alert'', organizers said. The Cavour will visit Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Mina Salman (Bahrain), Shuwaikh (Kuwait), Ad Dawhah (Qatar), Dubai, Mina Qabus (Oman), Mombasa (Kenya), Cape Town (South Africa), Pointe Noire (Congo), Dakar (Senegal), Casablanca and Algiers. The Cavour will come home on April 7, docking in the port of Taranto. ''This is a multidisciplinary action that will promote Italy through what we are calling 'growth diplomacy'. It will confirm our ties with all the countries we will be visiting'', explained Luigi Maria Vignali, who heads the Foreign Affairs Coordination Unit. (ANSAmed).

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