By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has welcomed the Italian companies’ involvement in the restoration of Azerbaijani territories liberated from occupation in a 44-day-war with Armenia in 2020.
He made the remarks at a video format meeting with a delegation led by Chairman of the Italian Maire Tecnimont Group Fabrizio Di Amato on February 3.
“We hope that Italian companies will be very active in projects related to the restoration of our territories. I can tell you that several Italian companies have already been invited for restoration and construction work. I am sure that their number will increase. Because I have repeatedly said during my speeches and once again want to say that we will invite companies from friendly countries only,” Aliyev said.
The president underlined the very good impact of the country’s economic and industrial development in Azerbaijan’s close cooperation with the Maire Tecnimont Group and the implementation of the group’s projects.
“In general, your company has been involved in projects worth over 1.6 billion euros and I think this will continue to be the case. Because you have already demonstrated your loyalty to our country. What you have said about the number of local citizens involved in your activities demonstrates your commitment and long-term strategy in Azerbaijan. Because if you didn't plan to operate here for a long time, you wouldn't do it. Initially, only Italians worked, but now the number of local staff is more than 70 percent. So you have contributed to the training, and that is very important,” Aliyev added.
The president stressed the successful development of Italian-Azerbaijani relations and described the two countries as strategic partners.
“My state visit to your country a year ago showed this once again and I remember our meetings and discussions with [Italy’s] senior officials and business community. We always keep our promises and implement everything we agreed on. We also witnessed the solidarity of the Italian people with us during the difficult times in our history last year. We have witnessed the objective approach of the Italian media to this issue, and we have seen that we have turned into a reality the issues we had signed [agreements on] and emphasized. Because Italy and Azerbaijan are strategic partners. A document on strategic partnership has been signed, and the reality shows that we are strategic partners.”
Aliyev briefed the Italian delegation about the measures related to the establishment of Italian-Azerbaijani University in Baku.
“We have already allocated space. Work has already begun on the establishment of the university. This issue has also been agreed at the government level. I hope that if we try hard, we can start this work this year. Because it will be a good indicator of our friendship, and at the same time, it is very important for the preparation and training of young Azerbaijanis in the specialties that our economy requires for the future, so that we can manage these enterprises, these industries,” he added.
The head of state noted that the university will contribute to the strengthening of close friendly relations between the two countries.
At one of his earlier meetings with an Italian delegation, Aliyev hailed the high level of ties with Italy in the political, economic and some other spheres and underlined the Italian president's visit to Azerbaijan in 2018.
“Italy is Azerbaijan's first trading partner. Last year, our turnover reached $6 billion. Most of it is related to energy resources but I think that the non-oil sector will also have a special place in the coming years. As for the energy sector, as you know, the TAP project will be launched in the near future, which will undoubtedly further strengthen the Italian-Azerbaijani relations.”
The 44 days of the war in and around Nagorno-Karabakh ended with the Russian-brokered peace deal signed on November 10 by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders. Under the peace agreement Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions were vacated by the Armenians by December 1. The agreement also envisages the return of Azerbaijani IDPs to Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven adjacent regions under the control of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan resumed after Armenia launched large-scale attacks on Azerbaijani forces and civilians on September 27. The November peace agreement ended the 30-year-old conflict between Baku and Yerevan over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region that along with the seven adjacent districts came under the occupation of Armenian armed forces in the war in the early 1990s. For about three decades, Armenia failed to implement the UN Security Council resolutions demanding the withdrawal of the Armenian troops, which was the main obstacle to the resolution of the conflict.
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