This weekend we celebrate one of Italy's most important national holidays - Festa della Repubblica. Republic Day, marked on 2 June each year, commemorates the day in 1946 on which the Italian people voted to decide the future of their newly-liberated country. In a wave of reformist change that swept Europe, and after 85 years of monarchy, Italy became a republic. The Italian Republic was born.
Since that day, 72 years ago, Italy has built a legacy to be proud of, especially as one of NATO's founding nations. She has been a staunch ally, and a stalwart of "stability and the preservation of peace and security". The nations of the Alliance vary in constitution, but we are bonded by the fundamental principles laid down in The North Atlantic Treaty; of democracy and individual liberty, and from those; self-determination.
To all of my Italian colleagues, I would like to offer my most heartfelt thanks for your hospitality, and my sincerest gratitude for your enduring dedication in upholding the common values that we in the Alliance proudly share and seek to promote.
Please join me in saying tanti auguri and buona festa to the Italian Republic!