BAKU, Azerbaijan, February 14. In rapidly developing politics on the continent, Azerbaijan is keeping up to date, becoming one of the most important partners for the EU. It is thanks to the clear foreign policy of President Ilham Aliyev that Azerbaijan was able to firmly establish itself in Europe.
Italy, in this regard, is one of the closest European partners for Azerbaijan. Italian-Azerbaijani relations have strategic importance for both parties and work is underway to further boost this cooperation.
Just yesterday, Azerbaijan’s Azerenerji and Italian Ansaldo Energia signed an agreement for the supply of four gas turbines to Azerbaijan. This agreement will pave the way for confirming Italy’s role as Europe’s energy hub, and strengthen Azerbaijan’s position in the European energy market.
Of course, in these difficult times, when the energy security of Europe is under threat, Azerbaijani resources are needed more than ever. And the cooperation in this field between Azerbaijan and Italy is flourishing. However, this is not the only promising field for cooperation between the two countries.
As President Ilham Aliyev said during the groundbreaking ceremony for a 1,280-MW thermal power plant, the construction of which will be carried out together with Ansaldo Energia, Italy is a strategic partner for Azerbaijan.
“Two documents on strategic partnership have been signed between Italy and Azerbaijan, high-level reciprocal visits have been organized. Starting from January of this year, three ministers of the new Italian government have already visited Azerbaijan - the minister of defense, the minister of energy, and today the minister of enterprises and Made in Italy. In just one month, i.e. the first visit was on January 11, three ministers of the new government visited Azerbaijan. This shows how advanced our relations really are,” President Ilham Aliyev noted.
The bilateral agenda between the two countries is becoming much broader. For instance, the Joint Declaration on Strengthening the Strategic Partnership, signed during the visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Italy in 2020, has set future directions of strategic partnership between the two countries. This very deep and detailed document covers all kinds of fields, starting from political and economic to cultural and humanitarian areas. At the same time, it implies the mutual provision of support within the framework of international organizations.
Education is another promising field of cooperation between the two countries. The establishment of the Italy-Azerbaijan University, during President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Italy in September 2022, and the creation of a new educational building at the campus of ADA University in Baku added to the already successful cooperation in this field. The first draft of the master's program, proposed by the Italy-Azerbaijan University in conjunction with Italian higher educational institutions, has been developed already. Five leading Italian universities partook in the project that is being implemented jointly with ADA. The mentioned project covers business, urban design, and engineering.
“It is no secret that the development of each country is not determined by natural resources, but by knowledge, competence and technological progress. In Azerbaijan, we are channeling the revenues obtained from natural resources into human capital, and today's event is clear evidence of that. At the same time, I am sure that the Italy-Azerbaijan University will become a center of Italian-Azerbaijani friendship. In other words, I think that today we are witnessing a historic event,” President Ilham Aliyev said following the exchange of signed agreements in Roma for the establishment of the academic cooperation framework for the Italy-Azerbaijan University and the creation of faculties and programs.
Meanwhile, the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Italy over the last year almost doubled, totaling $18.1 billion, compared to $9.6 billion in 2021. Mainly, Azerbaijani exports to the country showed a significant year-on-year increase of 92.3 percent – from $9.2 billion to $17.7 billion. Both in 2022 and 2021, Italy ranked first among the main countries of origin for exports from Azerbaijan, and the total trade turnover as well.
Azerbaijan’s oil supplies to Italy are a huge part of the trade turnover between the two countries. Thus, Azerbaijani oil exports to the country in 2022 amounted to 8.9 million tons worth $6.6 billion. Just in December 2022, Azerbaijan ranked first among the main crude exporters to Italy.
Moreover, Italy has not stayed aside in the reconstruction process that Azerbaijan is carrying out on the liberated lands and become one of the first countries to join. Italian companies are very actively involved in the restoration works of religious sites, as well as the construction and design of victory museums.
President Ilham Aliyev has rightly pointed out that the relations between Azerbaijan and Italy not only provide for the interests of the two countries but also the interests of large geography.
Considering all the above, it is safe to say that thriving cooperation between Azerbaijan and Italy will contribute not only to the economic and political development of each country individually but also to the whole continent. Both countries realize that energy partnerships will bring stability and security to Europe. However, they do not limit themselves and improve cooperation in various other fields.
The opportunities created today as a result of the successful, multifaceted policy of President Ilham Aliyev are a sign of hope for Europe. A number of strategic documents signed with European partners over recent years confirm this strategic importance. Azerbaijan, being a leader among the countries of the South Caucasus, is becoming more and more important not only for its closest neighbors but for the whole of Eurasia.