9 June 2023

For the “Impact Speech” event series: A meeting with Pier Francesco Zazo, Ambassador of Italy to Ukraine

Personal experiences, geopolitical analysis, life advice, and an unprecedented look into the conflict in Ukraine—this and much more is what the meeting, organized by the Luiss Alumni Association under the “Impact Speech” event series, offered. The event featured Pier Francesco Zazo, a Luiss graduate in Political Science and the Ambassador of Italy to Ukraine. Raffaele Marchetti, Deputy Rector for Internationalization and Professor of International Relations at Luiss, served as the event’s moderator.

During the event, Ambassador Zazo expressed admiration for the extraordinary courage and indomitable will of the Ukrainian people. He also expressed pride in Italy’s closeness and concrete support, even during extremely challenging conditions when other countries had already left Kiev.

The meeting provided an insightful opportunity to explore the impressive career path of a Luiss graduate, representing many diplomats who have emerged from Viale Pola and successfully applied the lessons learned during their university years. Born in Benevento in 1959, Pier Francesco Zazo graduated with a degree in Political Science in 1984. In 1985, he joined the diplomatic service and was appointed as a Legation Secretary at the Department of Development Cooperation. Zazo speaks German, English, Russian, French, and Spanish. Throughout his diplomatic career, he has traveled to various destinations, including Seoul, Stockholm, and Kiev. In 1999, he arrived in Kiev as the First Counselor and later, in 2003, he served as a Commercial Adviser in Moscow, gradually assuming the roles of Embassy Counselor and First Commercial Counselor.

In 2010, Zazo assumed the role of Minister Plenipotentiary and Ambassador to Canberra, where he had responsibilities over a vast area encompassing Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Micronesia, and the Republic of Nauru. From 2018 onwards, he reported directly to the Director General for Country System Promotion, then for Globalization and Global Issues, and finally to the Special Envoy for Small Island States in the Pacific, while also serving as the coordinator for Italy’s participation in multilateral programs concerning Antarctica. In January 2021, Zazo returned to Ukraine as the Ambassador of Italy, accompanied by his wife and two children. This return took place shortly before the commencement of hostilities.

Ambassador Zazo’s account highlighted how the combination of his experience and knowledge of the Ukrainian context, acquired over the years, along with the unique sensitivity and flexibility inherent in Italians, played a crucial role in saving lives during the conflict that put the Ukrainian capital under direct attack. The Ambassador emphasized the crucial qualities for a diplomat, including the ability to conduct a precise analysis of the situation and effective problem-solving skills. These two factors were deployed by the entire staff of the Italian embassy, ensuring the smooth functioning of the diplomatic office and the successful execution of its duties.


Article by Emidio Piccione, journalist and communicator.