By Kamila Aliyeva
Italy supports expansion of Azerbaijan's cooperation with the European Union.
This was stated by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy Angelino Alfano at a meeting with Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, who is paying a visit to Rome upon invitation of his Italian counterpart.
During the meeting, the ministers expressed satisfaction with the high level of bilateral relations and friendship between Azerbaijan and Italy.
They noted that the cooperation in economic, commerce, energy and cultural spheres is successfully developing between the two countries and Italy is the main trade partner of Azerbaijan within the European Union.
The ministers drew attention to the importance of the Southern Gas Corridor and special emphasize was made to TANAP and TAP projects as its important components. In this regard, they praised the cooperation between the two countries.
The sides further mulled the role of Italy as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office.
The Italian foreign minister underlined that his country supports the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by diplomatic means through the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the basis of the norms and principles of international law and the Helsinki Final Act.
Mammadyarov thanked Italy for its fair position regarding the settlement of the conflict.
Informing about the negotiation process on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Azerbaijani minister underlined that Armenia has not yet implemented the demands of the UN Security Council Resolutions on immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
He added that the attempts to change the internationally recognized borders of states by use of force is unacceptable and the conflict should be resolved on the basis of territorial integrity and sovereignty within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan, as it is reaffirmed by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
During the meeting, the sides also exchanged views on cooperation within international organizations, as well as regional issues of mutual interest.
Bilateral relations between the two states continue to grow and expand in a number of directions. Accompanied by a solid consolidation of the political dialogue, bilateral economic relations have further strengthened following the signing of a Joint Declaration for the establishment of an Italian-Azerbaijani Council for Economic, Industrial and Financial in 2004.
Baku and Rome are strategic partners in the energy sector. Italy, whose scanty natural resources traditionally make the country dependent on import has been a key partner for Baku. Since 1999, Italy has begun to receive a large part of Azerbaijani oil exported through the Baku - Supsa pipeline and then through the Baku - Jeyhan. This made Italy the number one partner for Azerbaijan and this position is maintained until today.
The priority target of Italian investments in Azerbaijan is construction sector. The Italian presence is strengthening in the interior design industry, the hotel infrastructure, the agro-wine division and the banking sector.
Currently, about 45 Italian companies are operating in Azerbaijan in insurance, banking, trade, and other areas. Azerbaijan remains an extremely interesting market for Italian businessmen.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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