This year, Azerbaijan and Italy celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Relations between the two countries, which are based on historical roots and traditions of friendship, have developed dynamically in all directions over the past 30 years. Azerbaijan and Italy have a multidimensional strategic partnership in the political, economic, trade, energy, humanitarian, etc. spheres.
Azernews’ Ayya Lmahamad presents an exclusive interview with Italian economic and geopolitical expert, journalist Domenico Letizia on Azerbaijani relations, gas export, the process of restoring Azerbaijan’s liberated lands and the prospects for future cooperation between the two countries.
Q: What is your assessment of the current state of Azerbaijani-Italian relations?
A: With Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, relations between Italy and Azerbaijan are further strengthened. Italy and Azerbaijan, with their energy collaboration, can rewrite the role of Europe and the West and contribute to ending the energy problems in Europe. Moreover, Azerbaijan’s continued collaboration with Italy and ties with Europe are pushing Baku to increasingly deepen the European reality, bringing the country closer to the European economic, cultural and social model. I would not be surprised if in the next decade there was talk of Azerbaijan joining the European community. A membership that I would also extend to Georgia to initiate important relations between the tolerant and Europe-loving Caucasus.
Q: What role does Italy, as a consumer, give to Azerbaijani gas? At the same time, what can Azerbaijan do to go the extra mile for Europe in light of the recent energy crisis?
A: Italy owes a lot to Azerbaijan in this period of global energy crisis caused by the cowardly Russian aggression on the European world, to the sovereignty of Ukraine. Thanks to Azerbaijan, Italy continues to have a very important source of energy: gas. The collaboration and energy cooperation between the two countries will continue and according to the Italian institutions, it is planned to make TAP also a hub for the production of hydrogen to accompany the increase in gas energy flows from Azerbaijan .
Q: In your opinion, are there prospects for signing new cooperation agreements between Italy and Azerbaijan in other sectors? What could be potential areas of cooperation, in your opinion?
A: Certainly. Beyond culture, I imagine agriculture, scientific research, climate protection, agricultural process innovation and the aspect of free zones and cooperation prospects for the growth of the blue economy become very interesting.
Q: Are Italian companies involved in the process of restoring the liberated territories of Azerbaijan? Do you see a growth in the number of Italian companies in Azerbaijan?
A: Good news. Italy’s ability can boost Azerbaijan’s post-war economic growth. The excellent work carried out by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Italy contributes to the growth of knowledge of Azerbaijani economic opportunities in Italy. I am convinced that many entrepreneurs will always look with increasing attention to the capabilities of Azerbaijan.
Q: As a journalist, I would like to know your point of view on the reasons for the friendly relations between Azerbaijan and Italy? And this is the case when relations between Baku and other European nations cannot go to the point that Azerbaijan would like.
A: Relations are excellent and are largely due to Azerbaijani diplomatic action in Italy. A talented ambassador who loves Italy helped grow relationships and intertwine opportunities. The Baku government has an excellent ambassador in Italy. The current Azerbaijani Ambassador to Italy is one of the most prepared and efficient people I have ever met.
Q: Education can play a crucial role in improving and deepening relations between the two nations. What do you think are untapped and untapped areas?
A: The multicultural model of Azerbaijan deserves to be known and valued everywhere. I believe that it can be useful to strengthen the programs of academic cooperation and for young professionals by acquiring and studying the multicultural model of Azerbaijan and by disseminating the religious dialogue that exists in Azerbaijan.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on May 8, 1992. The first Italian Embassy in the South Caucasus was opened in Azerbaijan in 1997, and the Azerbaijani Embassy in Italy has been operating since 2003.
Italy was one of the first countries to express its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, as well as its interest in participating in restoration efforts in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. Last year, Azerenergy and Ansaldo Energia signed a cooperation agreement on the construction of energy infrastructure in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. According to the agreement, Ansaldo Energia will supply equipment for four 110 kV substations to be built in the regions of Aghdam, Kalbajar and Gubadli.
Azerbaijan is an important energy supplier for Italy. In Azerbaijan, more than 100 Italian companies operating in various fields are registered. At the same time, Italian companies have contracts worth more than 10 billion euros ($11.8 billion) for Azerbaijani projects inside and outside the country. Azerbaijan’s total investment in the Italian economy is estimated at around 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion), with Italy investing around 770 million euros ($910.8 million) in Azerbaijan.
The two countries’ trade turnover was $9.6 billion in 2021, with Italy also being Azerbaijan’s largest trading partner.
Ayya Lmahamad is the journalist of AzerNews, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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