300 years of friendship
Relations between Italy and Myanmar have solid roots that are embedded in the country's history. From the the religious Barnabites who in the 18th century had worked in Myanmar, to those of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary who left at the beginning of the 19th century from Piedmont (Italy).
Among the Italians who served in the country we ought to mention Father Paolo Matteo Abbona, who the Burmese scholar Vivian Ba called "the greatest and most Burmanised of the Oblates of Turin".
As a missionary, Father Abbona built schools, hospitals and churches. He also played an important role in delicate diplomatic missions (he spoke seven languages) between the British and the Burmese Court.
Appointed in 1856 as Plenipotentiary of the King of Sardinia, he earned the esteem of the British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, and the collaboration of Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour. As an economist, he drafted the Treaty of Commerce and Friendship between the Kingdom of Italy and the Burmese Empire.
These stories show that the bond between Italy and Myanmar dates very far back, and in more recent times, there have been many opportunities for collaboration and exchange between the two countries.
In 2006, a Conference was organised in Turin to commemorate the adventure of Father Abbona in the Burmese land, to celebrate the bicentenary of his birth.
From 2007 to 2011, MP Piero Fassino served as the European Union's Special Envoy for Myanmar.
In 2013, Nobel prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was granted honorary citizenship in the city of Turin and notary Andrea Ganelli was appointed Consul General of the Union of Myanmar, headquartered in Turin.
Followed by the visit of Thein Sein, President of Myanmar Union in 2014 and the appointment of Pier Giorgio Aliberti, born in Cuneo, as Italian Ambassador in Yangon.
The recent establishment of the Italy-Myanmar Business Council and the Italy-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce strengthen the cultural and economic ties between the two countries.