Commonwealth Ambassadors to Eternal City toast King but wobble on Expo 2030

Panel of speakers for Commonwealth Day in Rome

 ROME – Ambassadors in the Eternal City climaxed Commonwealth Day by raising plastic glasses of prosecco to toast King Charles III but the envoys were divided over whether to support Italy or Saudi Arabia in the contest for hosting the EXPO 2030 universal exposition in Rome or Riyadh.

 Dozens of Ambassadors and diplomats from Commonwealth countries heard Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, head of the Electoral Campaign EXPO 2030, formerly Italy’s man at the UN in New York, introduce a video extolling the Green themes Italy expects to dominate Expo if Rome is chosen in November for the trade fair. A dossier on the same theme was presented by Cristina Hanabergh, head of the EXPO 2030 Roma office.

 The event on Monday to mark Commonwealth Day was organised by the Commonwealth Club of Rome and held at the Provincial Government palace next to the piazza Venezia, with Club Chair Edward Mura presenting the speakers. The British Ambassador, Lord Edward Lewellyn, read the text of the King’s speech for Commonwealth Day.

 While the Italian Expo team was keen to use the gathering to garner support for Rome’s Expo candidature, many Commonwealth countries already have succumbed to Saudi courtship to back Riyadh’s candidature, doubtless after being promised a lucrative consideration.

 Italy is willing to help financially countries who will bring pavilions to Rome if it is successful in its bid, Ms Hanabergh said.

 Among countries that already have reportedly signed up to support Riyadh is Mozambique, one of the most recent Commonwealth members to join. Mozambique Ambassador to the UN agencies Santos Alvaro made no reference to this in a speech to the gathering Monday, however.

 Malaysia, whose ambassador to the UN agencies was singled out for praise by Canadian Ambassador Elissa Goldberg, for promoting Commonwealth goals at the FAO and other food agencies, also has come out in support of Riyadh.

“This is the hypocrisy of diplomacy,” one seasoned observer commented.

 Italian diplomats nevertheless believe that many countries that have been quoted as supporting Riyadh despite its appalling human rights record, will switch loyalty to Rome when the vote is held in November.


British Ambassador Edward Lewellyn
Mozambique Ambassador Santos Alvaro