On Nov. 7, 2018, Webster University Geneva’s Department of International Relations and the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (www.roosevelt.nl) co-organized a one-day conference to mark the 100th commemoration of the end of the Great War within the program of the 2018 Geneva Peace Week (www.genevapeaceweek.ch/about). The event concentrated on the topic of “Italy and the Allies: War Goals and Post-War Disillusions” and benefited from the patronage and sponsorship of Italy’s Consulate-General as well as the collaboration of the Geneva-based associations of Italian veterans (e.g., UNUCI, ANA, ANC and ANCRI).
The Consul-General of Italy, Mr. Antonino La Piana, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN and other International Organizations, Amb. Massimo Bellelli, together with the President of the Committee of the Italians Living Abroad (www.comites-ginevra.ch), Mr. Andrea Pappalardo, the President of the Association of the Italian Researchers in Switzerland (www.ricercatoritaliani.ch), Ms. Federica Rossi, the Academic Director of the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Dr. Giles Scott-Smith, the Director of Webster University Geneva, Dr. Clementina Acedo, and the Head of the Department of International Relations, Dr. Oreste Foppiani, opened the conference.
“Italy and the Allies” had three panels, which dealt with respectively “Italy, France and Russia” (Dr. Oreste Foppiani, Dr. Vicken Cheterian and Prof. M. Gabriella Pasqualini), “Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom” (Dr. Dario Fazzi, Dr. Pierre-Etienne Bourneuf and Dr. Gaetano Di Tommaso) and “Military defensive architecture, art exhibits and museums” (Ms. Sara Isgrò and Ms. Desirée Tommaselli). The keynote speech was delivered by Cdr. Leonardo Merlini, Head of the Italian Navy’s Office of the Historian, who talked about the “Role of the Italian Navy during the Great War and Italy’s aspirations as a maritime power.”
A core section of the conference was dedicated to the role of the Italian Navy and its ambitions as a maritime power in the Mediterranean Sea. Although the topic of the Great War was analyzed from an Italian perspective, nevertheless the competence of the diverse speakers provided a 360-degree overview of the context surrounding the events in Italy. Of particular relevance were the strategic interests of France and the U.S., which framed the course of the war in the Adriatic Sea and interfered with the Italian territorial aspirations. Other thematic sessions included the role of the U.S. propaganda, Italian military intelligence, the first League of Nations blueprints by Great Britain and France, and the artistic and architectonic heritage of the First World War.
The presentations, which were given in Italian, French and English, successfully achieved to capture the attention of the audience; with over 70 attendees representing nongovernmental organizations (5%), international organizations (5%), governments (10%), academia (10%) and schools (65%), including numerous students from the Lycée Pareto (www.liceo-pareto.ch).
The participants engaged in constructive question-and-answer sessions with the speakers and raised relevant points of discussion. From the conference, inter alia, it emerged that “debates over historical events remain significant in understanding today’s reality such as the conflicting interests of France and Italy in relation to the quasi-failed Libyan state and the geo-economic and geo-political interests in the Central-Eastern Mediterranean,” as noted by Oreste Foppiani. The full program and list of panelists is available.