By Mirsaid Ibrahimzade
Italy and Azerbaijan’s current relations are based on intensified political dialogue and rapidly developing economic cooperation which benefits both countries.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov who is on an official visit to the Holy See, held several bilateral meeting with the state officials, Trend reported.
Mammadyarov met with President of the Italian Senate Elisabetta Casellati on September 18.
During the meeting the parties noted satisfactory level of strategic relation between the states, a long political dialogue between the countries, high-level mutual visits, broad economic cooperation, and the presence of an intensive cultural, scientific and educational exchange.
Elisabetta Casellati said that she appreciates the rich historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan, its economic development and multicultural environment, and also expressed satisfaction with the attention paid by the First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva to Azerbaijani-Italian cooperation in the field of culture, science and education, as well as projects implemented by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Italy, its contribution to the preservation of the cultural heritage.
It is noteworthy that during last year’s official visit to Italy, Mehriban Aliyeva took part in the opening ceremony of the St. Sebastian’s Catacombs, restored by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
Then, Elmar Mammadyarov stated that there is a mutually beneficial cooperation between Azerbaijan and Italy in all areas and emphasized that Italy is Azerbaijan’s major trading partner.
The trade turnover between the two countries reached $6.22 billion in 2018, which accounts for 20.11 percent of Azerbaijan’s total foreign trade.
Besides, he added that Azerbaijan is a main supplier of crude oil to Italy and Azerbaijan is the largest export point of the country in the South Caucasus.
In general, Italy is one of the main buyers of Azerbaijani oil. Italian company Eni has been involved in several projects on the operation of oil and gas fields in Azerbaijan since 1995, which laid the foundation for economic cooperation between countries. Since 1999, Italy has begun to receive a large part of Azerbaijani oil exported through the Baku-Supsa pipeline and then through Baku-Jeyhan.
It was said that Italian companies successfully operate both in the oil and non-oil sectors of Azerbaijan, that there are extensive opportunities for broadening economic cooperation.
Mammadyarov stressed that TAP project contributes to the energy security of Europe, including Italy, and strengthens Azerbaijan-Italy partnership surely.
TAP gas pipeline, which is currently under construction, will be operational in early 2020. The initial capacity of TAP will be 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year with the possibility of doubling it. TAP shareholders include BP (20 percent), SOCAR (20 percent), Snam S.p.A. (20 percent), Fluxys (19 percent), Enagas (16 percent) and Axpo (5 percent).
The meeting also discussed cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union, Italy's contribution to this cooperation, and an exchange of views on regional security issues.
Having informed the counterpart about the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov pointed at the importance of resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with international law, based on resolutions of the UN Security Council, within the framework of sovereignty, territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders.
Afterwards, Mammadyarov met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Luigi Di Maio.
Italy's contribution to cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union, Azerbaijan’s role in the implementation of transnational transport projects and an exchange of views on regional security issues were the topics of discussion.
Azerbaijani FM informed the counterpart about the current state of negotiations to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and noted the importance of Italy as a member of the Minsk Group keeping the issue in the spotlight.
Mirsaid Ibrahimzade is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @MirsaidIbrahim1
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