Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

August 05, 2011 11:00 ET

Associate Minister of National Defence Fantino Concludes Successful Visit to Italy

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 5, 2011) - Today, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement upon the successful completion of his official visit to Italy from August 1-5, 2011:

Italy is an important Canadian ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with common defence priorities including the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program and participation in the ongoing NATO-led air campaign in Libya and training mission in Afghanistan.

"Canada and Italy continue to be important allies in fulfilling our mutual defence and security commitments," said Minister Fantino. "Our strong relationship with our NATO allies helps improve our work to protect our common values and way of life."

On Monday, August 1, Minister Fantino met with Italian Secretary of State for Defence, the Honourable Guido Crosetto. Minister Fantino and Secretary of State Crosetto discussed Canada and Italy's contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and NATO's Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR in Libya.

"Our meeting was an important opportunity for me to express, on behalf of all Canadians, our country's deep appreciation for the support Italy has committed to Canada's contributions to NATO's ongoing missions in Libya and Afghanistan," said Minister Fantino.

They also discussed one another's commitment to the multinational Joint Strike Fighter program which has been an important procurement priority for Canada and Italy for over ten years. The JSF has nine international partners, including Canada and Italy.

"Our countries agree that our investments in the F-35 aircraft are the best choice to give our air forces the equipment they require to protect our interests well into this century," said Minister Fantino.

The Minister also received an operational update in Naples with Canadian Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Operational Commander for Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR regarding the ongoing air campaign in Libya. He also met with Canadian Forces personnel deployed in Trapani-Birgi and Sigonella as part of Operation Mobile. Operation MOBILE is the Canadian Forces' participation in Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR.

"As Minister MacKay said during his visit last month, the hard work being carried out by our Canadian Forces personnel represents Canada's continuing commitment to international security and cooperation. We are taking a principled stand in global affairs to support Canadian values such as freedom, democracy, protection of human rights and the rule of law," said Minister Fantino. "Our men and women in uniform, are doing a fantastic job diminishing the Gadhafi regime's capacity to threaten its own people for which all Canadians can be proud. They are our greatest ambassadors and I am proud to bear witness in Italy to their dedication, professionalism and their honour of duty."

During his official visit, Minister Fantino participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Agira Canadian War Cemetery and visited the Cassino War Cemetery. Both sites bare special significance to Canadians as the final resting place of hundreds of brave soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War II to bring freedom to future generations. He concluded his official visit by reinforcing the benefits of the strong ties between our two countries.

"As a proud member of Canada's Italian-Canadian community, I am greatly encouraged by the level of cooperation and goodwill that exists between our two countries. These strong bilateral ties strengthen Canada's role to participate in international partnerships that help promote democratic values throughout the world," said Minister Fantino. "Canada's cultural ties to nations around the world are symbolic of the diversity of experience that has built the great country in which we live. This visit helped further demonstrate and solidify Canada's strong, mutual views on key global issues with our Italian counterparts in the defence community."

Contact Information