We spoke with H.E. Carlo Lo Cascio, Italian Ambassador to Serbia: about how the embassy organised its operations during the state of emergency and how he spends his private time during the pandemic, as well as how Italy itself is coping with pandemic. «we have to act responsibly and continue to fight the virus while living with it. » – he emphasised.
How did your country organize itself for the post-corona period?
Italy started the so-called ”phase 2” on the 4th of May and, like many other Countries in Europe, we are now experiencing a transition period, with a focus on the security and the health of our citizens, but also with the aim to gradually restart our economy. The Italian government is very much planning for the future and has already put in place import economic measures to support our companies and workers.
More than 4 million people already went back to work, all the manifacturing companies and construction sites reopened and it is now possible to move, even if with some limitations, within the Region of residence.
As our Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio stated, we are now facing a new challenge: we have to act responsibly and continue to fight the virus while living with it. We can go back to work and visit our families and loved ones, but we need to be careful and mantain social distancing.
The post-coronavirus period will start only when there will be no new contagions, but important progress has already been achieved. We made an incredible effort in containing the epidemic and I am very proud of the discipline and responsibility showed by the Italian people, since Italy was one of the most affected countries in the world.
How did you organize your diplomatic activities during the emergency?
The Embassy never closed, quite the opposite, even if remote working became the rule for many of us, our activities actually increased as it is often the case during international emergencies.
First of all we provided help to the Italian citizens living in Serbia, we constantly kept up to date those who wished to stay here, but we also facilitated the repatriation of those who wanted to go back home. Together with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Alitalia we organised a special flight to Rome at the end of March. We also worked closely with the other European embassies and with the EU delegation to put in place a coordinated assistance for all our citizens.
I also want to recall the Serbian donation of medical equipment to Italy. Serbia donated 4 million masks and other medical equipment for a value of 8 million euros. It was a great gesture of frienship that Italy will never forget. The donation shows how close Italy and Serbia are when help is most needed. As President Vucic recalled, Italy was there to help during the 2014 floods and during the Covid19 emergency Serbia was ready to give back.
Last but not least, during these two months we also supported many Italian companies that invested in Serbia. It is a very challenging moment for the economy, but our companies continued to work. We are therefore particularly grateful for the great collaboration that we have with all the Serbian authorities and associations that support private business and foreign investments.
What will you do now that the state of emergency was lifted?
Well, I will certainly have a couple of nice walks in the city parks! The Embassy has a garden, but I have to admit that I missed a bit the outside world. I think that everybody feels the need to go back to the life we had before the pandemic, but for some time we will still need to be very careful, to respect social distanging and to avoid unnecessary contatcts.
The emergency, as it is the case for many all around the world, kept me away from a part of my family. So as soon as travel restrictions will be lifted I hope I will be able to spend some time with my loved ones.
Luckily new technologies allowed us to work efficiently from home and thanks to our computers and smartphones we actually were able to keep in touch with our friends and colleagues during the lockdown. However, as a diplomat, sometimes there is the need for a face to face meeting, even if it is better not to shake hands for the time being !