Mehriban Aliyeva: Ital­ian-Azer­bai­jani re­la­tions are de­vel­op­ing suc­cess­fully

Azer News - - Front Page - By Kamila Aliyeva

Azer­bai­jan’s First Vice-Pres­i­dent Mehriban Aliyeva went for a two-day of­fi­cial visit to Italy on Septem­ber 25-26 to dis­cuss strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween the two coun­tries, which has lasted for over two decades and is experiencing con­tin­u­ous re­in­force­ment.

As part of her trip, Mehriban Aliyeva held meet­ings with a num­ber of Ital­ian and Vat­i­can of­fi­cials, par­tic­i­pated in a con­fer­ence on cen­ten­nial of Azer­bai­jan Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic and re­la­tions of strate­gic part­ner­ship, took part in the in­au­gu­ra­tion of St. Se­bas­tian cat­a­combs, as well as at­tended an of­fi­cial din­ner hosted by Ital­ian Pres­i­dent Ser­gio Mattarella.

In the course of the visit, she held a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate of the Ital­ian Re­pub­lic Maria Elis­a­betta Al­berti Casel­lati, dur­ing which Azer­bai­jan-Italy re­la­tions, in­clud­ing in­ter-parliamentary ties were hailed.

Later on the same day, Mehriban Aliyeva and Maria Elis­a­betta Al­berti Casel­lati at­tended the open­ing of the con­fer­ence on “The 100th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of the Azer­bai­jan Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic and re­la­tions of strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween the Re­pub­lic of Azer­bai­jan and the Ital­ian Re­pub­lic” held at Gius­tini­ani palace in Rome.

Ad­dress­ing the event, Mehriban Aliyeva noted that this con­fer­ence is de­voted to a very im­por­tant event in the fate of Azer­bai­jan, as the first demo­cratic re­pub­lic in the Mus­lim world - the Azer­bai­jan Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic - was es­tab­lished 100 years ago.

“It lasted only two years. We are proud that at the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury, the Azer­bai­jani peo­ple, re­ly­ing on the ideas of progress and free­dom, gained in­de­pen­dence. In a short time, the Azer­bai­jan Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic un­der­took very im­por­tant steps for our coun­try. Demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions be­gan to form in Azer­bai­jan, the multi­na­tional par­lia­ment be­gan to func­tion, more than 200 laws, very im­por­tant for the coun­try, were adopted, in­clud­ing Azer­bai­jani women were granted vot­ing rights. The first sec­u­lar school for Mus­lim girls was opened, the na­tional flag of Azer­bai­jan was es­tab­lished, and our na­tional army was cre­ated. Un­for­tu­nately, the young re­pub­lic lasted only 23 months. Faced with se­ri­ous geopo­lit­i­cal prob­lems, our coun­try lost its in­de­pen­dence,” she said.

In 1991, Azer­bai­jan re­gained its in­de­pen­dence, the first vice-pres­i­dent said, adding that to­day the Azer­bai­jani state and the Azer­bai­jani peo­ple have great re­spect for the mem­ory of the founders of the ADR.

Af­ter the restora­tion of Azer­bai­jan's in­de­pen­dence, Ital­ian-Azer­bai­jani re­la­tions are de­vel­op­ing suc­cess­fully, she noted.

“In­ter-parliamentary friend­ship groups, an in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal com­mis­sion are func­tion­ing. In 2014, a joint Dec­la­ra­tion on strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween Italy and Azer­bai­jan was adopted. A po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue is de­vel­op­ing at a high level,” Mehriban Aliyeva said.

Our eco­nomic re­la­tions demon­strate an ex­cel­lent pos­i­tive dy­nam­ics, the first vice-pres­i­dent said.

“Italy is the largest trad­ing part­ner of Azer­bai­jan. There are 95 Ital­ian com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in Azer­bai­jan. They co­op­er­ate with both the pri­vate sec­tor and gov­ern­ment agen­cies in var­i­ous fields, suc­cess­ful co­op­er­a­tion in the field of ser­vices, trade, transport, agri­cul­ture, wine­mak­ing and other spheres was es­tab­lished,” she added.

Mehriban Aliyeva re­called the open­ing of a polypropy­lene plant with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the pres­i­dents of Azer­bai­jan and Italy.

“The con­trac­tor for the con­struc­tion of this plant is Ital­ian com­pany Maire Tec­n­i­mont. In Fe­bru­ary of this year, Maire Tec­n­i­mont and the State Oil Com­pany of Azer­bai­jan signed an agree­ment on the mod­ern­iza­tion and re­con­struc­tion of the Baku Oil Re­fin­ery named af­ter Hey­dar Aliyev. The to­tal cost of only these projects is $2.5 bil­lion. The share of Maire Tec­n­i­mont in these projects is $1.3 bil­lion. These fig­ures tes­tify, on the one hand, about the scale of eco­nomic re­la­tions be­tween Azer­bai­jan and Italy, and on the other hand, the dy­nam­ics and scale of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in our coun­try,” she said.

Mehriban Aliyeva fur­ther spoke about Azer­bai­jan’s con­tri­bu­tion to the en­ergy se­cu­rity of Europe.

“Azer­bai­jan to­gether with the part­ner coun­tries is suc­cess­fully im­ple­ment­ing the South­ern Gas Cor­ri­dor project. The of­fi­cial open­ing of the project was held in Baku in May this year. The TANAP pipe­line, which is the ma­jor part of the project, opened in the Turk­ish city of Eskise­hirin June this year. The $40 bil­lion project will transport Azer­bai­jani gas to Europe,” she ex­plained.

The first vice-pres­i­dent stressed that Azer­bai­jan is known in the world as one of the cen­ters of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism.

“In our coun­try, in­ter­na­tional fo­rums de­voted to mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, a fo­rum on in­ter­cul­tural di­a­logue are reg­u­larly held. This ini­tia­tive of Azer­bai­jan re­ceives high sup­port and eval­u­a­tion from such in­flu­en­tial in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions as the UN, UNESCO, and ISESCO. In 2008, the Cul­ture Min­is­ters of the mem­ber states of the Coun­cil of Europe and the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion met in Baku. This ini­tia­tive was called the “Baku process”. This year the “Baku process” cel­e­brates its 10th an­niver­sary. It con­tin­ues and serves to es­tab­lish a fruit­ful di­a­logue be­tween na­tions and peo­ples,” she said.

Mehriban Aliyeva also spoke about the Ar­me­nia-Azer­bai­jan Nagorno-Karabakh con­flict.

“The Ar­me­nian-Azer­bai­jani Nagorno-Karabakh con­flict should be set­tled on the ba­sis of in­ter­na­tional law, the ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity of Azer­bai­jan should be re­stored, Nagorno Karabakh and seven sur­round­ing re­gions should be freed from oc­cu­pa­tion, all refugees and in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons should re­turn to their homes. I hope that Italy, as the OSCE Chair­man-in-Of­fice, will play a big role in the set­tle­ment of the con­flict,” she said.

Con­clud­ing her speech, Mehriban Aliyeva noted that the ties be­tween the two coun­tries - po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and hu­man­i­tar­ian - are de­vel­op­ing at a high level. She ex­pressed con­fi­dence that friendly re­la­tions be­tween the peo­ples of the two states will be strength­ened in the fu­ture.

Then, the con­fer­ence con­tin­ued its work in panel ses­sions.

The speeches re­ferred to the de­vel­op­ment of Ital­ian-Azer­bai­jani re­la­tions in var­i­ous fields. The role of Azer­bai­jan in the en­ergy se­cu­rity of Europe was par­tic­u­larly em­pha­sized. The Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion's con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions was noted.

Speak­ing at the con­fer­ence, Head of the Italy-Azer­bai­jan in­ter­par­lia­men­tary friend­ship group at the Ital­ian Se­nate Ros­sana Boldi high­lighted the im­por­tance of the event.

She hailed the de­vel­op­ment of Italy-Azer­bai­jan ties and stressed the sig­nif­i­cance of the bi­lat­eral strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion. Not­ing that re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries have been de­vel­op­ing in all fields, Ros­sana Boldi praised First Vice-Pres­i­dent Mehriban Aliyeva's role in de­vel­op­ing Azer­bai­jan-Italy re­la­tions. She said that the projects im­ple­mented by the Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion in Italy are im­por­tant in terms of pro­tect­ing the coun­try's cul­tural her­itage.

Ad­dress­ing the con­fer­ence, Pres­i­dent of the Ital­ian Se­nate Maria Elis­a­betta Al­berti Casel­lati em­pha­sized the sig­nif­i­cance of hold­ing such an im­por­tant con­fer­ence.

“It is an honor for us to mark the 100th an­niver­sary of the Azer­bai­jan Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic in Italy. Hold­ing this event here is of great im­por­tance be­cause the Con­sti­tu­tion of Italy was signed in this build­ing. This year we cel­e­brate the 70th an­niver­sary of the sign­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion,” she said.

Touch­ing upon Azer­bai­jan-Italy ties, Casel­lati noted that re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries have an an­cient his­tory.

High­light­ing the projects im­ple­mented by the Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion to re­store his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural mon­u­ments, which are of spe­cial im­por­tance to Italy, the pres­i­dent of the Ital­ian Se­nate thanked First Vice-Pres­i­dent of Azer­bai­jan, Pres­i­dent of the Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion Mehriban Aliyeva for her role in de­vel­op­ing cul­tural re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

“To­day Azer­bai­jan, as a coun­try in the Cau­ca­sus, plays a key role in the life of the Mediter­ranean coun­tries both po­lit­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally. Italy is one of the first coun­tries to im­port en­ergy from Azer­bai­jan. To­day Italy plays a very im­por­tant role in di­ver­si­fy­ing the econ­omy of Azer­bai­jan and par­tic­u­larly gives im­pe­tus to the de­vel­op­ment of the oil in­dus­try,” she said.

The pres­i­dent of the Se­nate ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the ac­tiv­i­ties of Ital­ian com­pa­nies in Azer­bai­jan will be fur­ther ex­panded. Casel­lati also high­lighted Azer­bai­jan's role in Euro­pean en­ergy se­cu­rity.

An of­fi­cial re­cep­tion mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the Azer­bai­jan Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic was held on the same day.

Ad­dress­ing the event, Mehriban Aliyeva said that the Azer­bai­jani-Ital­ian re­la­tions are de­vel­op­ing on the ba­sis of strate­gic part­ner­ship, and suc­cess­ful co­op­er­a­tion has been es­tab­lished both in po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic spheres. Not­ing that to­day a healthy in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment dom­i­nates in Azer­bai­jan, the first vi­cepres­i­dent in­vited Ital­ian busi­ness­men to Azer­bai­jan.

On Septem­ber 26, Mehriban Aliyeva held a meet­ing with Pope Fran­cis.

High-level re­la­tions be­tween the Vat­i­can and Azer­bai­jan were hailed, the ex­pan­sion of the bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in the field of pro­tec­tion of cul­tural her­itage was noted at the meet­ing. Azer­bai­jan's sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to in­ter-faith and in­ter­cul­tural di­a­logue was praised.

The Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion's mul­ti­fac­eted ac­tiv­i­ties and work to pre­serve and re­store Chris­tian mon­u­ments were em­pha­sized dur­ing the meet­ing.

Then, a meet­ing of the Azer­bai­jani first vice-pres­i­dent and Sec­re­tary of State of the Vat­i­can, Car­di­nal Pi­etro Parolin, was held.

Dur­ing the talks, it was noted that Azer­bai­jan plays the role of a cul­tural bridge be­tween the East and the West. Azer­bai­jan's cen­turies-long tol­er­ance tra­di­tions and mul­ti­cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment were hailed at the meet­ing.

Azer­bai­jan's con­tri­bu­tions to strength­en­ing of in­ter-cul­tural and in­ter-faith di­a­logue, in­ter­na­tional events held in the coun­try and the Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion's works and im­por­tant projects in this area were also high­lighted.

As part of her visit, Mehriban Aliyeva also took part in the cer­e­mony to in­au­gu­rate St. Se­bas­tian cat­a­combs, which were re­stored by the Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion.

The re­con­struc­tion work, which was car­ried out by the Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion, started here in 2016. The Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion pre­vi­ously re­stored the cat­a­combs of Saints Mar­celli­nus and Peter.

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