June 17, 1999



Palermo, Italy - The Mayor of Palermo, Italy, today welcomed David Dorn, Chairman of CIVITAS International, and Penn Kemble, Acting Director of the United States Information Agency, at a press conference prior to the opening of the CIVITAS Palermo World Congress, Friday, June 18 that will begin with a keynote address by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"The city that for many years was the symbol of the Mafia and the symbol of negative values has today finally become a symbol of positive values. The fact that the CIVITAS World Congress is taking place in our city with the involvement of important international institutions and delegates from more than sixty countries represents the most prestigious recognition of that fact and that the Palermo renaissance is a reality," said Mayor Leoluca Orlando.

President Bill Clinton sent greetings and congratulations to the Mayor who is hosting the four-day international conference of educators and world leaders. "The new and emerging democracies represented by CIVITAS face exciting challenges on the eve of the 21st century. Across the world, these governments are striving to strengthen democratic citizenship and civic education in order to build the practical foundations for good governance," said President Clinton.

Responding to the Mayor's welcoming remarks, Mr. Kemble said, "We understand there are many places in the world where democracies exist in a formal way but are not fully effective. We know that it is not just the mechanisms of democracy that must be strengthened but the culture of democracy. Only when we in the established democracies find ways of cooperating to assist younger democracies can we hope to succeed. Democracy and lawfulness are values that must be reinforced every day to guarantee liberty and democracy everywhere, but above all the world's young democracies."

The CIVITAS Palermo World Congress in Palermo, Italy, from June 18-21, 1999 - sponsored by CIVITAS International, the City of Palermo, and the Italian Ministry of Education - will launch an international campaign for education for democracy and showcase the Palermo experience as a model of civic reform. In addition to the First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton, other distinguished participants include President designate of the European Commission Romano Prodi, Nobel Prize winner for Literature Wole Soyinka, and Italian Minister of Public Education Luigi Berlinguer, as well as hundreds of educators and civic leaders from around the world. The agenda includes discussions of issues and strategies for building global support for education to strengthen a culture of democracy and lawfulness, combat crime, and empower citizens.

The city of Palermo, Sicily, was selected as a site for the conference as an example of democracy in action because its citizens joined forces to recapture their city in a courageous fight against crime and corruption. Leadership and substantial progress in this movement can be seen in other regions of the world as well. CIVITAS International, a global network of civic educators supported by the United States Information Agency, has mounted a campaign to educate citizens worldwide in the skills and knowledge required for democracies to thrive.


Andrea Scrosati, CIVITAS Palermo Press Office
TEL: +39-348-4206040 FAX: +39-091-6886134

Gene E. Bigler, Press Officer, USIS, U.S. Embassy
TEL: +39-06-4674-2426 FAX: 2655

Catherine Stearns, Public Affairs Specialist, USIA
TEL: 011 39. 0336.789.760
Kelly Lees, Public Affairs Specialist, USIA
TEL 202-619-4355