The Atlantic Council awards. On Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi received the Distinguished Leadership Award for his capacity to influence international politics and accomplishments at Italy’s helm.
- The award was presented by US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, who gave an introductory speech.
- ENI’s CEO, Claudio Descalzi, went alongside Mr Draghi. He, too, was honoured – with the Business Leadership Award.
- This is Mr Draghi’s second award from the Atlantic Council – he also received the Global Citizen Award in 2015.
We collected a selection from PM Draghi and Secretary Yellen’s speeches. Here are the event’s recording and its transcript.
Italy has gone through some extremely difficult times in the last few years. We faced the pandemic before anyone else in the Western world. We endured an economic shock that was much sharper than elsewhere in Europe. We now experience the return of war on our continent, which threatens our safety, our prosperity, our energy security. And this is happening for the first time since WW2.
Yet – as it has done time and again in its magnificent history – Italy has bounced back. And we are ready to do our part, together with our European and Transatlantic allies, to overcome this tragic moment. To restore peace where there is evil.
On the Russian invasion
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused what we used to call a paradigm shift in geopolitics. It has strengthened the ties between the EU and US, isolated Moscow, raised deep questions for China. These changes are still ongoing – but one thing is certain: they are bound to stay with us for a long, long time.
We must continue to support the bravery of the Ukrainians, as they fight for their freedom and for the security of us all. We must continue to inflict costs on Russia, moving swiftly with our latest package of sanctions. But we must also do all we can to reach a ceasefire and a long-lasting peace. It will be up to the Ukrainians to decide the terms of this peace – and no-one else.
On the Marshall Plan for Ukraine
We have to prepare ourselves for the world we’ll live in tomorrow. We must be ready to continue to stand with Ukraine long after the war ends. The destruction of its cities, its industrial plants, its fields will require enormous financial support. Ukraine will need its own Marshall Plan – much like the one that contributed to the special relationship between Europe and the US. And we’ll need to ensure its democratic institutions remain strong, stable, lively. Ukraine is our friend. Ukraine will remain our friend.
The difficult times started well before the war, but each of these crises carries major consequences for Europe. It carries risks, but also opportunities. Let me give you one example.
The pandemic has brought the European Union together in ways that were unthinkable even a few months ago. I’m referring to our joint vaccination effort, a model for the world; and to the next-generation EU, a first seed of that Hamiltonian moment which two centuries ago helped make the modern United States. The war in Ukraine has the potential to bring the European Union even closer together.
On their friendship
I really got to know Mario over dozens of dinners at the Bank for International Settlements during the time that he served as the Governor of the Bank of Italy and then as President of the European Central Bank. This was no easy time in the world of central banking. The global economy was shaken by a financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession. Mario was chosen as the first Chair of the Financial Stability Board, a consortium created to build a stronger global financial system—one that would be less crisis-prone.
Mario also charted a course to save the European economy and the euro itself, relying on his unique ability to bring people together—to forge consensus. He is known for a famous line in central banking history, declaring amid the European debt crisis that the ECB would “do whatever it takes” to preserve the euro. It is often said that those four words cemented the future of the eurozone. But it was the following statement—“And believe me, it will be enough”— that signaled Mario’s confidence and credibility. Financial markets, Europeans, and the world knew that he and the ECB could be trusted to deliver.
The United States was fortunate to have Mario as a partner then, and we are grateful to have him as a partner once again. Mario jumped back into public service becoming Prime Minister of Italy in early 2021 amid an unrelenting global pandemic and deep economic strains. In his first year, he oversaw Italy’s swift vaccination campaign, a series of relief measures to help workers and businesses, and a number of politically challenging reforms to modernize and green Italy’s economy. And on top of all that, he led a successful G20 year—a true testament to his commitment to multilateralism.
On Italy-US relations in times of crisis
Now in the face of Russia’s brutal and unjustified war against Ukraine, the United States has only strengthened our cooperation with Italy, and with the rest of our European and global partners, to stand firmly in support of Ukraine and the values that underpin our global economic order.
As we have rolled out a historic package of sanctions, I have found great comfort in having a partner who deeply understands firsthand the plumbing of the international financial system. Who fully internalizes the impacts and intricacies of the consequential actions we are taking. I have deeply appreciated Mario’s counsel and wisdom throughout this latest challenge we are facing together.
Mario, thank you for your service to Italy, to Europe, and to all of us. I am honored to have worked so closely with you and look forward to our continued partnership.