By Rashid Shirinov
Despite the distant location of Azerbaijan and Italy, the two countries have been maintaining strong links in many fields, such as in economy, energy, trade, tourism and other spheres.
The successful development of bilateral relations between the countries has been discussed during the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov’s visit to the Italian city of Palermo, where the 2017 OSCE Mediterranean Conference took place on October 24-25.
During his visit, Mammadyarov met with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Angelino Alfano.
The Italian Foreign Minister commended Mammadyarov’s participation in the conference, called Azerbaijan a reliable partner of Italy, and noted that his country attaches special importance to cooperation with Azerbaijan.
Noting the existence of strategic partnership relations between the two countries, Mammadyarov underlined that Italy is one of the most important partners of Azerbaijan in the European Union.
During the meeting, Mammadyarov and Alfano noted with satisfaction the comprehensive development of cooperation between the two countries in the fields of economy, trade, culture, science-education, tourism and others.
The Azerbaijani foreign minister also touched upon the negotiations held recently on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He reiterated Azerbaijan’s just position based on the norms and principles of international law and the Helsinki Final Act.
Speaking of the priorities of his country during the OSCE chairmanship next year, Alfano said that Italy, with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, will support efforts that can contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Ministers further stressed the strategic importance of cooperation in energy field and referred to the Southern Gas Corridor and TANAP and TAP projects. Alfano emphasized the significance of TAP project in diversification of gas supplies and ensuring energy security of Italy.
Mammadyarov also informed his Italian counterpart about the North-South and East-West transport corridors, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project, noting that the cooperation in this direction promises great prospects.
The sides reviewed Azerbaijan-EU relations as well. Italian minister stated that his country will continue to support Azerbaijan’s cooperation with the EU. Elmar Mammadyarov, in turn, stressed that the negotiations on the strategic partnership agreement between Azerbaijan and the European Union are being continued intensively.
During the meeting, the sides also exchanged views on the cooperation within the international organizations and regional issues of mutual interest. They expressed satisfaction with the high level of Azerbaijani-Italian relations, based on mutual understanding, friendship and dialogue, and stressed the importance of mutual high-level visits with the aim of further deepening the ties.
A day before the meeting with Alfano, on October 24, Elmar Mammadyarov met with the Mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando.
At the meeting, Orlando recalled his visit to Azerbaijan when he was a member of the Italian Parliament, fruitful high-level meetings held during the visit and warm impressions about Azerbaijan.
Mammadyarov and Orlando exchanged views on the development of relations between Azerbaijan’s regions and Palermo. They noted the great opportunities for exchanging experience in the spheres of agriculture, culture, tourism and cooperation in other spheres within the framework of interregional cooperation.
Noting that Italy is one of the most important partners of Azerbaijan in the EU and the dynamic development of ties between the two countries in all spheres, Mammadyarov stressed the importance of stimulating cooperation between the regions of the two countries.
Italy and Azerbaijan have excellent bilateral and economic relations. Over the past eight years, Italy has remained Azerbaijan’s major trading partner, the fourth exporting country and the first customer in the energy sector. Last year the trade turnover between the countries amounted to $1.89 billion.
The two countries also maintain strong business relations. Today, about 45 Italian companies are operating in a variety of fields in Azerbaijan, such as energy, insurance, banking, trade, and other areas.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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