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The Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Laura Carpini, has described Ghana as a model of democracy in the West African sub- region and beyond.
She said the credibility of Ghana in the previous election would cause other countries to follow the next election with keen interest.
She, therefore, challenged political parties vying for power in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections to continue shunning all forms of violence in the run-up to the elections and rather work assiduously with established institutions that organise the elections.
“We urge all parties to continue to shun violence and to work with the well-established institutions to ensure that yet again Ghana shows itself as a model of democracy in the region and throughout Africa by conducting free, fair, credible and peaceful elections,” Ms Carpini said during the 70th Republic Day of Italy, held in Kumasi.
The Akyempemhene, Nana Adusei Poku; the Chief of Asokore-Mampong, Nana Boakye Ansah Debrah; the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr John Alexander Ackon, and the Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Kwadwo Bonsu were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.
Ms Carpini said conducting free, fair and credible elections would not only deepen the democratic dispensation in Ghana, but would also accelerate her socio-economic development.
She said as a founder member of the European Union (EU), Italy had been contributing tremendously to support Ghana’s electoral process and would continue doing so.
On the bilateral relations with Ghana, Ms Carpini said; “ Ghana and the Ghanaian people were important to Italy, and we have proved in the last years by stepping up our effort to bring our bilateral relations with Ghana to higher levels; we have done it with passion, consistency, determination and hand in hand with all sectors of society.”
“Let me assure you that my government will be ready to continue the bilateral work done so far,” she said, explaining that “the ENI-Sankofa project is the single largest foreign investment in the country.”
Describing the project as “a game changer in the energy scene in Ghana, providing jobs for many Ghanaians, just like all other Italians and Italian-Ghanaian companies”, Ms Carpini said Italy had also decided to fly Meridiana, an Italian airline, from Milan to Accra thrice a week.
On the education front, the ambassador said an agreement between some Italian universities and their counterparts in Ghana, involving some exchange programmes, had already been signed.
She said under the agreement, Ghanaian students offering Master’s and postgraduate degrees in English would be offered opportunities to study in prestigious Italian universities.
Such students, she said, would also undertake practical training in leading Italian companies with the view to building their capacities more fruitfully.
Ms Carpini also announced that Italy had opened a trade promotion section within its embassy in Accra.
“We have opened a trade promotion section within the embassy and we have just celebrated the creation of the Italian Business Association in Ghana aimed at further consolidating economic and commercial relations at all levels,” she explained.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Honorary Vice Consul of Italy to Ghana, Mr Stefano Ramella Pezza, commended the government of Ghana for its continued support to Italian investors in Ghana.
He also expressed their condolences to the government and family members who lost their relations during the June 3, 2015 disaster in Accra.