MONTEVIDEO – Uruguay and Italy are closely bound to one another as a result of extensive migration between the two countries, visiting Italian President Sergio Mattarella said on Friday.
Mattarella spoke during a ceremony at Montevideo’s city hall, where he received the key to the city from Mayor Daniel Martinez.
Montevideo, the president said, “is a city much loved by Italians” because it is home to so many Uruguayans of Italian ancestry.
“Italy has a great appreciation for Uruguay for having received so many Italians who came here seeking a better future far from their homeland,” Mattarella said.
“Received with generosity and openness” in Uruguay, the Italian migrants “maintain an emotional connection with their ancestors’ country of origin,” he said.
“And for that reason, Italy and Italians are not only interested in what happens in Uruguay, they are also proud of this country,” Mattarella said.
“There are Uruguayans who go to Italy and Italians who come to Uruguay, and that creates a sense of belonging,” the president said.
Mattarella is concluding the first official visit to Uruguay by an Italian head of state in 16 years.
On Thursday, he met with Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez, followed by a joint press conference where the leaders discussed a possible free-trade agreement between the European Union and South America’s Mercosur bloc.
The Italian official also visited the Supreme Court and attended a special joint session of Uruguay’s legislature.