A little taste of Rome came to Washington on June 7, 2011, when Rome Mayor Giovanni Alemanno and DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed a Sister City Agreement. This agreement establishes an official “cultural, educational, environmental and economic” partnership between the two capitals. Sister City programs create and strengthen partnerships at the municipal level. Through citizen diplomacy these connections build cooperation, promote cultural understanding and encourage economic development.
This Sister City relationship between Washington, DC and Rome will form strong bonds across a wide range of issues. Relationships like this are useful tools in promoting U.S. foreign policy objectives. Secretary Clinton’s vision elevates subnational engagement as another U.S. foreign policy tool.
In addition to my remarks on Rome and Washington DC becoming a historic power couple and the value of Sister City relationships to cultural diplomacy, Mayor Gray explained that the agreement “marks the formal start of a sustained cultural, educational, environmental and economic exchange between two world-class capital cities.”
As a part of the first exchange, the city of Rome will loan the ancient Roman sculpture the Capitoline Venus to Washington, to be featured in the Grand Rotunda at the National Gallery of Art until September 5. This marks only the second time the Capitoline Venus has left Rome, the other time was when Napoleon captured it in 1797.
This agreement marks the beginning of a new and strengthened partnership.