by Enzo Siviero
Deputy Secretary General EAMC (Engineering Association of Mediterranean Countries)
Vice President SEWC (Structural Engineers World Congress)
After spending much of his career in bridge design, the Rector and engineer Enzo Siviero presented in Tunis in December 2016, at a round table organized by Rmei (Réseau Méditerranéen des Ecoles d’Ingénieurs of Marseilles) and Eamc (Engineering Association for Mediterranean Countries of Rome) entitled “Mediterranean, a bridge between Africa and Europe: from dream to reality” its most ambitious project: TUNeIT. A 140 km bridge linking Tunisia to Sicily, a 100 billion euro project based on existing technical solutions (with the creation of artificial islands to be used for tourism or research purposes realized with the recovery of the materials coming from the excavation, which divide the path into 5 parts, each of which covered by a bridge with multiple spans). A visionary engineering work that would constitute an important opportunity for the economic, social, cultural and scientific development of a single area, a symbol of the union of the Mediterranean. A link between Tunisia and Sicily that would give rise to a Europe-Africa transcontinental territorial continuity, like other works created to connect Europe and Asia (tunnels and bridges over the Bosphorus), Asia and Africa (doubling of the Suez Canal), as well as the stable connection between Africa and Europe on the Strait of Gibraltar.
Italy is undoubtedly the emblem of beauty created by Man. The Renaissance that the whole world envies us finds in Italy, and also very widely from north to south and from east to west, its greatest expression. From this it derives an incentive to hazard a hope that is not without emotional suggestions. From Italy, symbol of beauty to the Mediterranean, symbol of hope! A geopolitical path that has in the history of the peoples, the cultures, and the beliefs its own “human” roots. If Christopher Columbus as well as Amerigo Vespucci and Giovanni da Verrazzano are Italians, these latter were even born in Florence…, how can we forget that America with its discovery, and its name, and New York with its famous bridge are also part of our history? And has not everything been generated from the Mediterranean? Here is the call that many have advocated! This Mare Nostrum (indeed “our” because of everyone …), the Mediterranean as a “big lake” or better as a “liquid bridge”, a place of intersections and mingling, of clashes and encounters, a melting pot of contradictions brought to synthesis, it remains the cradle of civilization! Just think of the transmission of ancient works of art “saved” from oblivion by the “Arab” civilization to which we are deeply indebted. But this “place” now “no-place” is seen as a “Styx” where do not drown the impious souls, but the same misery now inhumane. And so the Italian Renaissance could be the path traced for a future of hope, peace and love even for a Mediterranean which is surrounded by three continents with their own history. Beauty will save the world. So, many express the desire to go beyond contingency. And around beauty all of us can and must build the new “Mediterranean Renaissance” as a symbol of life. This is why also “physical” connections in addition to virtual connections must be pursued with force! A “visionary engineering” that has historically changed the world (Suez, Panama, the Alpine Tunnels) and which today is becoming more and more concrete on a planetary level without boundaries, leads to imagine a stable connection between Tunisia and Italy: TUNeIT; and between Greece, Albania and Italy: GRALBeIT, to connect the three continents and make ideological boundaries fall and the walls of mutual distrust are demolished. It would be the triumph of beauty of humanity. An original narration of being “alive for life”. As it was in the past Italy during the Renaissance, so the Mediterranean could be a cosmopolitan country in the future! Why not? Maybe under the aegis of UNESCO!
Jerusalem today: a few Bridges and too many Walls
I had never been to Jerusalem before. I had heard a lot from those who had been there decades ago as a magical place where the three monotheistic religions had found a non-episodic synthesis. The idea of the Temple Mount that is open to all believers, non-believers, agnostics, interested people…The Wailing Wall, over the centuries a sacred place where everyone could pray in their own way, the only God, the one who sees and judges in the dimension of infinity, in time and space. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre with all the interpretations that can be given among incredibly crowded alleys, full of smells of spices and intense aromas, of colorful fruit and vegetable stands, of modest but decent places where to have a tea or a coffee, or eat the little but high quality local food that is part of the millenarian tradition of this people. And the nearby Bethlehem with its Church of the Nativity that for centuries has attracted a diverse world of Jews, Christians, Muslims, with all their internal differences, often incomprehensible to most, except when its history is studied in depth. But it is no longer the Place, this Place! Because of the blind and brutal terrorism, the checkpoints have multiplied dramatically. The walls have risen to indicate that will of separateness exhibited in an exaggerated way! Real and virtual walls but above all ideological barriers that prevent dialogue. Places where hatred is cultivated and reverberates in the ostentatious prevarication of the strongest towards the weaker. The times when we used to live in a close relationship are a distant memory, when on Friday Jews and Christians used to approach the Muslims, on Saturday it was the turn of Muslims and Christians to help the Jews, and on Sunday all together to celebrate the friendship of peoples and beliefs. Why all this? Is it really so necessary to live diversity in inhuman mutual contempt? I do not think there’s nothing left to do! On the contrary, I am more and more convinced that with school education and the culture that unites we can restart the dialogue. And this seemed to me even more true when a Palestinian professor, with whom I have long argued, after having accepted my assumptions, indeed expressed more with my heart than with reason, asked me if I was willing to hold a conference in an Israeli university! It seemed unbelievable to me but in reality the proposal had a foundation. Speaking to people’s hearts means to connect with your own counterparts. Making human bridges is just that and in my life I have always wanted to build these bridges and then go through them all together to reach the other side, perhaps unknown and therefore considered dangerous, but instead the place where our brothers live. So, walls collapse and with those stones we build all bridges we can! They will never be enough to live them by mutual agreement. I would like to say this to all young people! Abandon the hatred that kills and embraces the love that lives and makes you live. No more walls. Only Bridges, Bridges and Bridges!