5 questions with... Anna Maria Corazza Bildt
Food tourism, tennis and eCommerce.
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
1. Which person you have worked with has most inspired you in your career, and how?
Vojika Đikić, a well-known Bosnian intellectual, poet and publicist. We shared the horrors of the siege of Sarajevo and the return to life after the war. Vojika embodied tolerance and multiculturalism. She taught me so much about courage and to stand up for values and humanity. It is in the ashes of Sarajevo that my commitment for a strong Europe for peace and freedom is rooted.
For the past six years, I have served in UN and EU peace missions, experiencing the daily reality that people face under siege - terror, loss, shelling and the constant risk of death when queuing for bread or a bucket of water.
Despite all the suffering, Vojka stunned me and the world with her uncompromising strength, integrity and hope. She never gave in to fear and hate. Our friendship marked me for life, inspiring me to devote myself to human rights and democracy and to fight extremism and xenophobia. This has been my driving force and responsibility as a European parliamentarian and I hope to gain the trust of the Swedish people to allow me to pursue this mission.
2. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
As an Italian national, I have been directly elected by preference to the European Parliament twice by the people of Sweden.
I am also a pioneering digital entrepreneur. In the 90s, I co-founded and led ItalianTradition.com, an eCommerce family SME promoting and selling quality Italian food in Europe.
With my family, I also created ‘Antico Borgo di Tabiano Castello’, a ‘Hotel Relais de Charme’ in the historic village where we come from in the Parma hills, in Italy, spearheading the transition from traditional agriculture to food tourism. Being grounded in the reality of SMEs drives my commitment, as first Vice-Chair of the internal market committee, to removing barriers to free movement and to cut red tape. We need to shift from words to action to create a well-functioning internal market that is win-win for all.
3. What is the most humbling thing you have experienced in your career?
The endless human tragedy of the conflict in Sudan. I will never forget the victims of sexual violence I met in a camp hospital during a visit to Darfur, as a member of the board of the Swedish Red Cross. More recently, witnessing thousands of refugees rescued in the Mediterranean by the European Union. Men and women, girls and boys, even babies - all united in fear and hope.
4. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?
My free time is for my family. As a former professional tennis player, I dream to find time to play again.
5. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?
‘Steppenwolf’ and ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’, by Hermann Hesse. My motto in life is be yourself no matter what people say or do.