I believe that each President of the Republic, at the time of his election, feels two basic needs: to strip himself of any previous belonging and to take charge exclusively of the general interest, of the common good as the good of each and every one. And then to safeguard the role, powers and prerogatives of the institution he receives from his predecessor and which – exercising them fully until the last day of his mandate – must pass on intact to his successor. It is not for me to say whether and to what extent he has succeeded in fulfilling this duty. What I want to tell you is that I have done my best, in all circumstances, to carry out my task in strict compliance with the constitutional provisions. The Constitution is the solid and vigorous foundation of national unity. Its principles and values ​​are, which must be lived by political and social actors and by all citizens.

    And in this regard, even on this occasion, I feel I have to express my gratitude for the loyal collaboration with the other institutions of the Republic. First of all with the Parliament, which expresses popular sovereignty. In the same way, I address a grateful thought to the Presidents of the Council and to the Governments that have followed one another in recent years. The governability that the institutions have helped to achieve has allowed the country, especially in some particularly difficult and demanding passages, to avoid dangerous leaps in the dark. We find ourselves in processes of change that are becoming ever more accelerated. Naturally we need the courage to look at reality without filters of convenience.

    The pandemic season has added new ones to the old inequalities. The spontaneous dynamics of the markets sometimes produce imbalances or even injustices that must also be corrected in order to achieve greater and better economic development. A still too widespread precariousness is discouraging young people from building families and futures. The sharp decline in births today represents one of the most worrying aspects of our society. Ecological and digital transitions are unavoidable necessities, and can also become an opportunity to improve our social model.

    Italy has the necessary resources to face the challenges of the new times. Thinking about the future of our society, the gaze of many young people I have met over the years comes to mind. Young people who engage in volunteering, young people who stand out in their studies, young people who love their work, young people who – as is necessary – commit themselves to the life of institutions, young people who want to learn and know, young people who emerge in sport, young people who they have suffered from difficult conditions and are going up the slope taking a new road. Young people are bearers of their originality, of their freedom. They are different from those who preceded them. And they ask that the witness not be denied to their hands. To the new generations I feel I have to say: do not stop, do not be discouraged, take your future because only in this way will you give it to society.

    I would like to recall the moving letter of Professor Pietro Carmina, victim of the recent, dramatic collapse of Ravanusa. Professor of philosophy and history, retiring two years ago, he wrote to his students: «Use the words I taught you to defend yourselves and to defend those who do not have those words. Do not be spectators but protagonists of the history you live today. Get inside, get your hands dirty, bite your life, don’t adapt, commit yourself, never give up on pursuing your goals, even the most ambitious ones, put those who can’t make it on your shoulders. You are not the future, you are the present. Please: never be indifferent, don’t be afraid to take risks so as not to make mistakes… ».

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