Azerbaijani president receives Italian foreign minister - UPDATED
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Republic Luigi Di Maio, News.az reports.
Welcoming the visiting delegation, President Ilham Aliyev said:
- Dear Minister, I am very pleased to see you. Welcome to Azerbaijan! This is a good opportunity to see each other again. I have very fond memories of our meeting in Rome, and it is also an opportunity to discuss the issues on our agenda.
The number of issues on the agenda is really growing. This is a very good sign of our cooperation. Of course, the strong political ties between our countries formed a strong foundation of our partnership. In 2014 and 2020, we signed two important declarations on strategic partnership. This shows that there is a mutual interest to be close friends, and we are already close friends. Of course, I have very good memories of my visit to Italy two years ago and President Mattarella's visit to Azerbaijan in 2018. Visits, discussions and documents – all this shows that there are strong ties between our countries. As you may know, I recently had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and we also discussed your visit to Azerbaijan.
So everything is going well and, of course, I am pleased to see good indicators of our trade partnership. I looked at the information and saw that Azerbaijan is Italy's key trading partner in the South Caucasus, as 95 percent of Italy's trade with the South Caucasus is with Azerbaijan. The numbers are very good, almost $10 billion last year. I am confident that this figure will increase this year due to additional gas supplies to Italy. Of course, the fact that Italy is our main trading partner is a very good sign. There are new opportunities in energy cooperation. For many years, Azerbaijan has been a reliable source of oil and the number one source of oil supply to Italy. Now with the completion of the Southern Gas Corridor project, we have become an important gas supplier and are the third largest supplier of gas. If there is potential to move forward, of course, we will. I was also very pleased with the fact that last year we supplied 7 billion cubic meters of gas, and this year it will be even more.
All these are very positive signs of cooperation, which is of strategic and long-term nature. We must also add humanitarian cooperation. There will be a very important event today – the groundbreaking ceremony of the Italian-Azerbaijani University. The place has already been chosen and everything is ready. I am confident that it will be one of the best universities in Azerbaijan, and five Italian universities are partners in this project. We are also pleased with the active participation of Italian companies in the reconstruction of liberated areas. Currently, museums of occupation and victory are being built by Italian companies in three cities. The restoration of the old mosque and the construction of a new mosque in Shusha are also being carried out by Italian companies. Work is underway in the electricity sector as well.
So, as I mentioned, the agenda is wide and keeps expanding. I am very glad that this is a good result of our cooperation. Welcome again. I wish you a pleasant time in Baku.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said:
- Thank you, dear Mr. President. Thank you for your time. As you know, this is my first visit to your country. Congratulations, your country is remarkable. I had seen the beautiful city of Baku only thanks to the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The city is magnificent, we saw it when we came here by car. I specifically congratulate you on your leadership in the region today. As you know, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. We will celebrate this important event in May.
The minister described the President's visit to Italy in February 2020 as remarkable:
- Unfortunately, this was the last official visit to Italy before the pandemic. We remember that. This was the last good event before the pandemic. I would like to inform you that, as you mentioned, there are important relations between our countries, and economic relations are also developing very well. I think that economic relations are always connected with the political ones. As economic ties grow, so do political and historical ties. The opportunity to participate in this important event on the occasion of the foundation of our joint university will be another step towards strengthening our ties. You mentioned TAP. TAP demonstrates the importance of establishing economic ties in this period of peace.
Luigi Di Maio conveyed the President Sergio Mattarella’s invitation to President Ilham Aliyev to visit Italy.
President Ilham Aliyev thanked the minister for the invitation.