The State visit of President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya to Italy reaped all expected results
The State visit to Italy by the Presidential Couple was a defining moment in Cameroon-Italian relations. Officially slated for two days, the one week stay of President Paul Biya and First Lady, Chantal Biya in Rome met all its objectives adding value, esteem and weight to the ever growing relations between the two countries. On day one of the State visit President Paul Biya was chief celebrant in six different ceremonies spanning across the five principal symbols of the Italian Republic. From the Presidential Palace for the welcome ceremony, through the City Council to the Tribute to the grave of the Unknown Soldier, President Paul Biya later met with the Presidents of the Council of Ministers, the Senate and the National Assembly. Later in the evening of the same day, he was back again at the Quirinale Palace for a State Dinner. Day two of the visit took place at the same Presidential Palace for the farewell Ceremony. Later in the evening, the Minister of Higher Education represented the Head of State for the meeting and cocktail with the Cameroon Community in Italy.
Economy and business took centre stage on the third day with the forum at CONFIDUSTRIA. It was a veritable public relations foray for the Cameroon product that was eloquently displayed by the Head of State. Later in the day, education and culture snatched the limelight with the Presidential Couple visiting the Rome Tor Vergata University where the Head of State was awarded a Gold medal by the President of the Conference of Rectors of Italian Universities. It was a sterling pointer for President Paul Biya’s crusade for the promotion of education, culture and research. Then came the highly symbolic visit to the Vatican which saw two separate in camera discussions with Pope Francis and the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Later in the afternoon, there were a series of audiences granted on behalf of the Head of State by Ministers Louis Paul Motaze, Lejeune Mbella Mbella and Hamadou Moustapha which centred mainly on subjects of economic investments in Cameroon. Throughout the rich and crowded agenda of the Presidential Couple in Italy, one could see clearly the determination to attract Italian investors to Cameroon and to strengthen the fruitful relations between the two countries. In the visits to the Chigi, Guistiniani, and Montecitorio Palaces, President Paul Biya was constant in portraying the strengths of Cameroon as a reliable partner in diplomatic and in economic relations.
At the Chigi Palace, fief of the executive power in Italy and office of the Italian Head of government, President Paul Biya saw an appropriate occasion to examine a huge array of government to government issues that eventually accelerate economic fallouts for Cameroon. The visits to the Senate and National Assembly, veritable hubs of power politics in Italy had their own specificities. Senate President, Piettro Grasso and National Assembly Speaker Laura Boldrini separately spared no effort in displaying Italian hospitality. Knowing too well that the Parliament in Italy is the most dynamic expression of Italian democracy, President Paul Biya ensured that the eminence and statue of Cameroon captures the imagination of his Italian host. Once more, the density, diversity and quality of discussions between President Paul Biya and the Italian Leadership stressed the values and interest binding the people of Cameroon and Italy.
During the Presidential stay in Rome, a cultural twist gave added value to a rich and successful visit. The Yaoundé I University Choir “The Glorious Voices” added an admirable spicy cultural dimension in the Quirinale Palace during the State Dinner and at the Rome Tor Vergata University when President Paul Biya was awarded the Gold medal. Cameroon’s “Glorious Voices” added the icing on the cake of a richly successful State visit. The contribution of the Cameroon diaspora to the huge success of the State visit cannot be under estimated. They came out in their numbers to welcome the First Couple on their arrival in Rome. In the meeting and cocktail, they applauded every phrase of the personal representative of the Presidential Couple, Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo during his speech that was an excellent lecture on national loyalty and patriotism.