Regional Post interviewed the “most Italian citizen of Gyumri” Antonio Montalto – the honorary consul of his country in the city. Mr. Montalto shared his impressions and visions of social and business activities in Armenia and Artsakh carried out by the institutions he had led or continues to lead.
Interview : Tigran Zakaryan
Photo : From Antonio Montalto’s personal archive
Mr. Montalto, how did you come to Armenia and decide to stay? Was it planned?
— I came to Soviet Armenia at the beginning of 1989 as a physician coordinating an assistance project in the Spitak region. Only when I agreed to join the program did I ask “Where is Armenia?” I wasn’t an ignorant person, it’s just that I’ve always valued unexpected human encounters, which eventually turn out valuable and decisive. My stay in Armenia was very interesting and full of historical, political, and social events. The first years were particularly dramatic – the earthquake, the war in Karabakh, and the collapse of the USSR. But, of course, there is a price for such things. I remember the electricity shortage and the hardships of the early years of independent Armenia.
Regardless of all that, I felt fortunate, immediately finding so many commonalities between Armenian and Italian temperaments. Thus, I accepted those limitations without losing heart.
I continue enjoying it here because human kindness is the precious treasure of Armenia. It is interesting to observe how bridges are being constructed between Armenians and Italians. In my case, spontaneity is why I chose to stay and continue our work here. It was a natural choice, and I never thought I should have made a different decision.
Of course, with all that, I see negative things here, too, but the positive things are much more. I don’t like people who see only the positive side of things and are excessively enthusiastic, and I am cautious about people who tend to oversee difficulties.