Photo taken on Dec. 31, 2015 shows the fireworks lighting up the sky during New Year's Eve celebration on the riverside of Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia. (Xinhua/Bai Xue)
Photo taken on Dec. 31, 2015 shows the fireworks lighting up the sky during New Year's Eve celebration on the riverside of Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia. (Xinhua/Bai Xue)

“I want to spend these minutes with you to discuss the main difficulties and hopes in our daily life (as citizens),” Mattarella said at the beginning of his speech.

 Photo taken on Dec. 31, 2015 shows the fireworks lighting up the sky during New Year's Eve celebration on the riverside of Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia. (Xinhua/Bai Xue)
Photo taken on Dec. 31, 2015 shows the fireworks lighting up the sky during New Year’s Eve celebration on the riverside of Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia. (Xinhua/Bai Xue)
It was the first time Mattarella addressed the Italian people as head of the state. The 74-year-old former constitutional judge was elected as president by the parliament in January 2015.

“Employment is the first of all issues: it has returned to grow, and this helps building confidence,” he said, speaking directly from his private apartment at the Quirinale Palace.

“The end of the economic recession and the recovery are further positive signs, but still have not been enough to put an end to the suffering of many families,” he stressed.

Mattarella said too many young Italians, who studied hard and were full of skills, still lacked a job, and thus lacked the opportunity to contribute to their own future and to the country’s growth.

He urged “private and public in Italy, and especially school system, university, and research, to work closely together”, because job market and society were facing a major process of change.

“Innovation is a challenge that concerns all of us, and competition requires quality, creativity, and investments,” he added.

Indeed, Italy saw its first signs of economic recovery this year, after its longest post-war recession.

It has gone through painful austerity measures since 2011, and is still struggling with a jobless rate at around 11.5 percent and exceeding 39 percent among people aged under 25.

Yet, Mattarella encouraged Italians to be confident, since economy improved in 2015 and forecasts for 2016 were also positive.

He praised those who resisted through the long crisis. “Many of our fellow citizens have worked hard and with sense of responsibility, in different sectors and with different tasks,” he stressed.

“In this way, they have contributed to keeping our economy alive, and to all of them goes my deepest gratitude”.

On the other hand, he blasted a well-known flaw of the Italian society, such as the propensity to tax evasion.
“A most recent study by Confindustria (Italy’s main business group) shows tax and contribution evasion in 2015 reached some 122 billion euros(132.46 billion U.S. dollars),” Mattarella pointed out.

“It represents 7.5 percentage points in terms of gross domestic product, and would have meant 300,000 new jobs”.

Other key topics of his speech were the pollution alert, the fight against corruption, Europe’s migration crisis, and the need for Italy to further integrate its population of immigrants.

Finally, the President addressed the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.

He expressed solidarity to the family of Valeria Solesin, the Sorbonne university student and only Italian victim of the Paris terror attacks in November, and said Italian security forces were working hard to prevent the threat.

“Our police and security services are acting with great competence to defend the peace of our lives,” Mattarella said.

“Terrorism wants to frighten us and affect us. We will not let them do so, but will defend the achievements of our civilization and the freedom of our choices in life,” he said. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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