Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome

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Mayor Walter Veltroni:
Rome a champion for peace and tolerance

Rome’s chief virtue today is that of having succeeded in creating its own original growth model, comprising economic development and social cohesion, and tying urban renewal, the upgrading of the service network, and the promotion of the entire city’s well-being to new business opportunities and policies for the integration and economic support of the weakest social groups.

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Rome is a major international capital city that is enriching its urban design with world-class modern architectural works, ranging from the Auditorium-Music Park designed by Renzo Piano to the upcoming Euro Congress Centre by Massimiliano Fuksas. 2004 saw the start of construction of 30 new kilometres of the subway system, which will link the city’s northern and southern outskirts, and of a new high-technology railway station. We have completed the experimentation phase for the satellite management of urban public transport; through the installation of electronic poles it will be possible for people to use a simple SMS to find out at what time a bus will pass by or choose the most convenient transport connection.

All year round, Rome offers an extremely rich programme of cultural initiatives without compare in Europe; these helped the city register a 7.67 per cent increase in domestic and international tourism in August 2004.

Today Rome continues to grow more quickly than the rest of the country, and alone produces 6.4 per cent of the national GDP. The City of Rome has increased its investment capacity, earmarking over 1.6 billion euro in 2003 for the upgrading of infrastructure, services, and entrepreneurial activities, an amount almost five times higher than in 2001. With its 386,000 businesses, the Roman productive system accounts for 6.8 per cent of the national system. Today Rome is also a major generator of cultural energy, capable of organizing, for example, the “Notte Bianca” (White Night) – the latest edition, with its 300 events, brought over two million people into the streets and piazzas – and of holding, in its most ambient venues such as the Colosseum or alongside the Imperial Forums, free concerts of international importance – from Paul McCartney to Simon and Garfunkel – that each include an open-air audience of over half a million people. It is a commitment to culture that, for us, is also an indication of serenity, growth of civic sense, and cohesion.

Thus, Rome is growing, thanks to a single, great project that is both political and economic, social and cultural, based on the contributions of Romans who assume responsibilities and donate their energies throughout its territory. It is our idea of a “welfare community”, based on the participation of the citizenry and on the belief that the well-being and prosperity of a community derive from a collective interest and commitment and are not solely the responsibility of the city administration: a city united and mutually supportive.

Rome, with an area of 129,000 hectares, is the biggest capital city in Europe. It also has the largest historic centre in the world, which is now protected with the most extensive limited traffic zone in Italy, and is served by the largest fleet of electric buses in Europe.

Today, thanks to the approval of the new General Master Plan, Rome has undertaken an urban transformation programme that will develop, over the coming decade, an investment volume of 5 billion euro, with 60 million cubic metres of new buildings. Around the Master Plan are woven all the city’s chief demands: social policies and real estate market costs, mobility, schools, hospitals, markets, environment, waste disposal, industrial installations, commercial distribution, tourism, sports facilities, public lighting, infrastructure, parking areas, and enhancement of the historical and archaeological heritage. For this reason Rome, the first city in Europe to do so, has connected the urban Master Plan with the social Master Plan.

The same purpose underlies the decision to increase the municipal resources for social policies, which we consider a government and budget priority, by 47 per cent. By the end of 2005, in Rome there will be 10,000 elderly persons who live alone and who will be monitored by the tele-assistance service. Every day over 1,200 volunteer workers, the “Solidarity Pony Express”, are called upon by the elderly to do their shopping, pay bills, take them for a walk in their neighbourhood, or keep them company for a while at home.

For two years now, a city Call Centre has been functioning in Rome: a simple example, but one of great impact and success, of our decision to follow the route of decentralization and e-government. A phone call to the number 060606 is sufficient – and so far there have been 3.5 million, 8,000 a day – to obtain, at any time of the day or night, and in any of six languages, detailed information on administrative and cultural activities or the city services, or to receive a document by e-mail or speak with a certain office.

Last, Rome continues to be an international capital for the defence of human rights, peace, the fight against hunger, and the quest for sustainable development. It is in Rome that the Glocalization Conference, the world summit of mayors committed to a balanced interpretation of globalization processes, arising out of experiences of cooperation between local governments, was established. The City of Rome has undertaken a programme of collaboration with the Italy-Israel Association and the Italy-Palestine Association that has led to the creation of an “Office for Peace” in Jerusalem. Private meetings between Israeli and Palestinian delegations have been held in Rome and, in 2002, on the occasion of a concert for peace organized at the Colosseum, a historic embrace occurred between the then Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, and one of the late Yasser Arafat’s chief advisors, Mohammad Rashid. Rome is tied by cooperation programmes with the city of Kigali, in Rwanda, and is financing the rebuilding of a school in Guinea Conakry. With the proceeds from the sale of a music compilation CD edited by Mayor Veltroni himself, four water wells were dug in a suburb of Maputo, in Mozambique. Thanks to a fundraising operation promoted by several Roman schools, in October 2004 we opened a new school complex for that same community.

Rome is a great international capital that engages actively in programmes of international solidarity and in the fights against hardship and poverty and against the wastefulness of an exclusivist society. It is a capital that works toward building a civilization of peace, tolerance, respect for human rights, and the possibility for all people to lead dignified lives.

Steps leading to the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome. The Piazza was designed by Michelangelo. Work began in 1538 but was not completed until the 17th century. Rome's City Hall is located on the Plaza.

Walter Veltroni

Walter Veltroni was born in
1955 in Rome, where he has always lived. He is married to Flavia and has two daughters, Martina and Vittoria, aged 15 and 12.

In 1976 he was elected as a member of Rome City Council, a task he fulfilled until 1981.

In 1987 he was elected as a PCI member of Parliament.

From 1988 onwards he was a member of the National Secretariat and a year later together with Achille Occhetto, he was one of the driving forces behind the major changes, which led to the birth of the Democratic Party of the Left.  At the founding congress in 1991 he was elected to the Political Coordination Unit with responsibility in the field of Communication.  In this capacity he dealt directly with cultural issues and in particular with problems relating to information, telecommunications and cinema. He inherited his interest in communication and information from his father Vittorio, one of the first television and radio news broadcasters for RAI.  A journalist by training, he became editor of the newspaper ‘L’Unità’ in 1992.  He worked at the paper from May 1992 until April 1996: four years during which the paper, in spite of the difficult political climate, managed to innovate and broaden its horizons.

In 1995, active political involvement took centre stage again in his life.  Together with Romano Prodi he promoted and supported the creation of ‘L’Ulivo’, the centre-left coalition, which went on to win the general elections of April 1996.  Following this electoral victory, he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Cultural Heritage in the Prodi government.

His activities as minister allowed him to become actively involved in the protection of the vast cultural heritage in Italy and in particular in Rome. The important results achieved through the use and recovery of cultural heritage have made Italy a ‘nation of art’ once again.  These achievements did not go unnoticed even abroad, where France bestowed upon him the ‘Legion of Honour’ in
May 2000.

After the fall of the Prodi government in
1998, he was elected national Secretary for the Democrats of the Left.  In June 2000 he was elected as a member of the European Parliament, where he was part of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, Information Technology and Sport. Fittingly, given his passion for communication and entertainment, in Strasbourg he was also the chairman of the Intergroup ‘Cinema, audiovisual policy and intellectual property’.

At the administrative elections of
May 2001 he was elected Mayor of Rome. Over the years he has published many books: Il Pci e la questione giovanile - on Pci youth policy (Newton Compton, 1977); A dieci anni dal ’68, intervista con Achille Occhetto - in an interview with Achille Occhetto he discusses the pro's and con's of '68 (Editori Uniti, 1978); Il sogno degli anni Sessanta - on the Sixties (Savelli, 1981); Il calcio è una scienza da amare - a book on the game of football (Savelli, 1982); Io e Berlusconi (e la Rai) (Feltrinelli, 1990); I programmi che hanno cambiato l’Italia - an overview of the television programmes that have had an influence on Italy (Feltrinelli, 1992).  In 1981 he wrote ‘Il sogno spezzato’- about Robert Kennedy -, and in 1994 he wrote a book called ‘La Sfida Interrotta’ - The book deals with the most important ideas and issues underlying the interrupted political challenge of one of the great leaders of the Pci, Enrico Berlinguer, who was infuential in Mr. Veltroni's political education. Both books are published by Baldini & Castoldi.

In 1994 he turned his attention to cinema, by bringing together the reviews written for ‘Il Venerdì di Repubblica’ in the book ‘Certi piccoli amori’ published by Sperling and Kupfer, and followed in 1997 by ‘Certi piccoli amori 2’.  In 1995 publishing house Rizzoli publishes ‘La Bella Politica’, in which Mr. Veltroni answers the questions from journalist Stefano del Re, allowing him to explain his political ideas, views and beginnings.

In 1997 he wrote the essay ‘Governare da Sinistra’ - on the experiences of centre-left government - for Baldini & Castoldi.

His fight in favour of Third World debt cancellation and his commitment to bring Africa’s plight to the attention of the international community in terms of its poverty and hunger, prompted him to undertake a long journey across many African countries.

It was an experience, which he described in his book ‘Forse Dio è malato’, published in the year 2000 by Rizzoli. Africa is also the central theme in the night time radio programme ‘Il sindaco e il dj’ (the mayor and the dj) on Rai Radio 2 with Pierluigi Diaco.

The programme has spawned a compilation album called ‘MeWe’.  The CD came out in
October 2002 for CGD (the Warner Group Italy), with all the proceeds going to charity to build wells in Mozambique.  The wells were opened in July 2003 on the outskirts of Maputo.

In May 2003 he was given an ‘Honorary Degree’ in Public Services by John Cabot University.  Also in May 2003 he published ‘Il disco del mondo’ (the album of the world) for Rizzoli about the life of the young jazz musician Luca Flores.

In September 2004 he published 'Senza Patricio' for Rizzoli, a book of short stories, which all centre around a father who survives his own son.