Mr Mike RannToday I announce the appointment of the Honourable Mike Rann as Australia’s next Ambassador to Italy, subject to receiving agreement from the Italian Government, with non-resident accreditation to Albania, Libya and San Marino. He is expected to take up his appointment in May 2014.

Mr Rann is currently serving as Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom where he has made a significant contribution to strengthening this important relationship. Mr Rann has established a wide range of valuable connections across politics, government and business and pursued with particular energy the promotion of trade and investment links between Australia and the UK.

His political career was notable for his long service as Premier of South Australia from 2002 to 2011. In 22 years in the South Australian Parliament, he held ministerial portfolios including Economic Development, Social Inclusion, Sustainability and Climate Change and the Arts. He concurrently held academic positions including Professorial Fellow in Social and Policy Studies at Flinders University; Adjunct Professor in Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University; and Fellow for Democracy and Development at the Centre for National Policy in Washington DC.

Australia and Italy share warm and expanding relations. Over 900,000 Australians claim Italian descent. Education, sporting and cultural exchanges are strong. These ties are invigorated by the large and growing number of Australian and Italian tourists travelling in both directions each year.

Italy is a significant trade partner for Australia. It is Australia’s fifth-largest export market in the European Union, and the third-largest source of EU imports.  Italian companies are expanding their presence in Australia. The visit in 2012 by a senior Italian business delegation highlighted opportunities to further develop our trade links.

Australia values Italy’s contribution to the G20. We share a focus on policies to promote growth and employment. Our cooperation will intensify in 2014 during Italy’s presidency of the European Union and Australia’s chairmanship of the G20.

Australia and San Marino established diplomatic relations in 1995. Since then, Australia and San Marino have enjoyed a productive relationship. Australia and San Marino share views on European, regional and international issues, and cooperate in International Organisations.

Australia strongly supported the Libyan people during the 2011 revolution, providing $44.6 million in humanitarian assistance from 2010-2012. Libya's democratic transition and security situation will remain a focus for the international community.

Australia’s warm relationship with Albania is underpinned by significant people-to-people ties. Over 13,000 Australians claim Albanian descent. In 2012, the visit to Australia by then Albanian Foreign Minister Dr Edmond Panariti built on this strong foundation.

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