The death of President Napolitano deeply saddens the Jean Monnet Association, which joins in the condolences of all Europeanists and wishes to express its deepest sympathy to the family and the nation of Italy.
Giorgio Napolitano has been a protagonist of Italian politics for over 50 years, holding important institutional roles both in Italy and abroad.
His early international experience was wide-ranging: in the 1960s, he was Italy's representative at the United Nations, dealing with issues such as nuclear disarmament and decolonisation.
In 1975, as Foreign Minister in Aldo Moro's government, Napolitano played an important role in European politics, helping to bring about the Treaty of Rome. He was a member of the European Parliament and twice President of the Republic.
Napolitano has always been guided by a staunch pro-European passion, albeit accompanied by explicit and repeated calls for the strengthening of the European institutions and the creation of a genuine political union, because currency alone cannot create the necessary cement that must be transferred from the institutions to the citizens of Europe. His admiration for Jean Monnet was expressed on numerous occasions and led him to write the preface to the Italian edition of his Memoirs, in which he wrote: "I consider the publication and distribution of Jean Monnet's memoirs, published in Italian under the title "Citizen of Europe", to be highly commendable, and I always reread them with interest and admiration as an extraordinary testimony to what our continent has been and what it can be if the memory of Monnet's teaching and patient work is not lost".
In a lectio magistralis in 2012, Napolitano said: "We cannot stop" - Jean Monnet wrote as long ago as 1976 - "when the whole world around us is in motion". And how much the world has moved since then: it has become a globalised world, in which the radical shift, away from Europe, of the centre of gravity of economic growth and international relations has led to an undeniable risk of Europe becoming insignificant or marginalised.
Napolitano's lesson and that of Monnet converge and are today more relevant than ever in the vision of a Europe that must see itself as an active part of a global scenario.
The Jean Monnet Association was founded in 1986. Its first president was Etienne Hirsch, a former collaborator and friend of Jean Monnet.
Its aim is to create a bridge between the past, present and future of the European Union, to explain its topicality and the founding values of peace, union, the pursuit of the common interest, tolerance and progress, in particular through the life and teachings of one of its main founding fathers, Jean Monnet.
Over the years, the Association has stepped up its efforts to promote the memory of Jean Monnet and, more generally, the European identity, with the much appreciated support of many of your compatriots.
Extract from the letter of condolence sent to Her Excellency Mrs Emanuela D'Alessandro, Italian Ambassador to Paris.