Azerbaijan Plays a Vital Role in Caucuses Region and Takes Sensible Decisions: Italy's Prime Minister Berlusconi - INTERVIEW
Azerbaijan, Baku, 26 November /corr Trend E.Ostapenko / Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev launched his official visit to Italy on 25 November. In his exclusive interview to Trend Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berluscni told about outlooks of political and economical cooperation with Azerbaijan, as well as role of the country in diversification of Energy supplies in the European Union.
Question: What is your estimation of Italian-Azerbaijan relations and what are the priority spheres of cooperation between the two countries?
Answer: The numbers speak for themselves: Italy is Azerbaijan's first trade partner. In 2008, trade between the two countries exceeded the record value of €3 billion. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Italy is the first country that President Alijev is visiting during his second mandate. Furthermore, Azerbaijan plays a vital role in the Caucuses region where it took sensible decisions, and we also look favorably on the already solid cooperation between Azerbaijan, the European Union and NATO.
Question: What are the main issues that will be discussed during Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's official visit to Italy?
Answer: The discussion will be wide in scope. The energy issue will be at the top of the agenda, but I am aware that the Azerbaijan economy is undergoing a strong modernization. Our entrepreneurs are ready to seize every opportunity to increase and diversify our trade flows. On the European level, Italy shares the strategic decision taken in 2004 to extend the European Neighborhood Policy to Azerbaijan. On the international side, we appreciate Azeri contributions to NATO stabilization operations and the balanced approach shown during the crisis in Georgia. We are confident that a peaceful solution to the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh can be found after the signing in Moscow of the Joint Declaration by the Azeri, Russian and Armenian Presidents.
Question: What is your estimation of the role of Azerbaijan in diversification of Energy supplies in Europe?
Answer: The diversification of energy sources is a central element to both Italian and European policy, and Azerbaijan is at the heart of this policy. Since the ITGI (Interconnection Turkey-Greece-Italy) Program has been declared to be of European interest in 2006, Italy is thus seeking to import gas from Azerbaijan and from the Caspian region, through Turkey and Greece, along a route that is complimentary and not alternative to others. The project, on which the Italian company Edison has been working for quite some time, enjoys general political support, and can be implemented in a reasonable timeframe. We are confident that President Alijev will be able to contribute to an agreement that will settle all outstanding issues between interested countries.
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