ROME — The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic would require a great deal of effort from major global players to step up their cooperation and improve the quality of dialogue, former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema has told Xinhua in a recent interview.
To revive economy and tackle social and economic inequalities as well as climate change are among the huge tasks lying ahead, said D’Alema, who has played a major role in Italian politics as a political heavyweight of center-left forces.
During the interview, he also voiced concerns about the current state of dialogue between the East and the West. The pandemic and the post-pandemic problems … “all require strong international cooperation, (and) I would even say a ‘qualitative leap’ in international collaboration,” he noted.
Differences exist between the West and the East in terms of political models and social systems, the 72-year-old former politician said, while stressing that “the greatest effort” from both sides should be put into resuming the dialogue.
“To use an old saying,” he explained, “today’s big problem is how to rebuild the conditions for a peaceful coexistence between different systems, in order to face common challenges most effectively.”
On climate change, possibly the most global of such challenges, D’Alema underscored the positive shift in the stance of the United States, which officially re-joined the Paris Agreement in February, following the announcement by U.S. President Joe Biden. This would allow some hope, he said.
“On climate change, there seems to be both the opportunity and the will to resume dialogue, and I do hope this approach could be extended to other fields, such as preventing and solving ongoing conflicts, overcoming trade tensions, and boosting economic recovery,” he said.
Politics, he stressed, was only one ingredient in mutual understanding. Market openness, especially in the services sector that allows better communication among people, and tourism and cultural exchanges could all contribute to building “a stronger cooperation climate,” he added.
“As for the Western countries, I do think we must try to better counter nationalistic pressures and hostile stances, which have occurred recently and are still occurring,” he said.
D’Alema recalled that China stretched out a helping hand to Italy as the country was among the first in Europe badly hit by the pandemic last year.
In Italy, he said, “we do remember the Chinese help in terms of support, technology and means provided in order to face the (first wave) of the coronavirus.”
The former prime minister said that another issue on which the West and China should have dialogue is human rights protection.
“I do not believe in exporting political models, and I think differences (between systems) must be respected,” D’Alema stressed. “I also do not feel we in the West can teach anyone a lesson, since we also deal with such problems.”
“I would say we should make a common effort to ensure an adequate standard of human rights protection while respecting the diversity of our political systems,” he added.