“I just made obvious remarks, which the press has amplified and exaggerated.” This is how the U.S. ambassador in Italy John Phillips welcomed his guests at 10 a.m. Friday. After the Ambassador had made headlines for his comment about the referendum — “if No wins, foreign investment would make a step back” — he called for a meeting in a living room at Villa Taverna. While enjoying espresso or American cups of coffee, the Washington representative and half a dozen representatives of the No committee sat for a couple of hours for a conciliatory meeting.
Some guests, like professors Stefano Rodotà and Gustavo Zagrebelsky, had to decline the embassy’s invitation. The meeting at Villa Taverna was attended by the president of the No Committee Alessandro Pace and three other legal experts of this committee, Massimo Villone, Felice Besostri and Pietro Adami. They were joined by Professor Guido Calvi, chairman of the new center-left committee, the one Massimo D’Alema asked for. Also in attendance, the former MEP of Forza Italia Giuseppe Gargani, who heads a center-committee for No, and former President of the Constitutional Court, Antonio Baldassarre, who signed one of the appeals for No.
After retracing the Italian origins of his family, Ambassador Phillips explained to his guests: “My institutional duty is to foster American investments in Italy; this is why I listen to entrepreneurs. Their major concerns in Italy are: the political instability, the lack of efficiency of the public administration and the slow pace of civil justice.”