Ilham Aliyev hosted official reception in honor of Italian President Sergio Mattarella

18 july 2018, 23:50

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has hosted an official reception in honor of President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella.

First lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva and the Italian President’s daughter Laura Mattarella attended the official reception.

The heads of state made speeches at the event.

Speech of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

- Ladies and gentlemen.

I want to welcome you to Azerbaijan again.

Welcome to our country, Mr. President!

I would like to express my gratitude for the high orders of Italy presented to me and Mehriban Aliyeva. I view this as a high assessment of our work towards development of Azerbaijani-Italian relations.

The President of the Republic of Italy is paying an official visit to Azerbaijan for the first time in the history of our bilateral relations. I am sure that this significant event will open a new page in the development of our ties. Today, the cooperation between Azerbaijan and Italy is successfully developing in all directions, including the political sphere. An important role is played by reciprocal visits of various levels. I am pleased to recall my visits to Italy and our meeting with Mr. President. The adoption of the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Italy in 2014 raised our ties to a higher level.

I want to specifically mention our cooperation in the economic sphere. Italy ranks first among Azerbaijan’s trading partners. In 2017, the turnover between our countries and the volume of exports from Azerbaijan to Italy increased. For many years, there have been ties in the field of energy. Azerbaijan closely cooperates with the Italian companies operating in this area. The official opening of the Southern Gas Corridor in May of this year will usher new opportunities for Azerbaijani-Italian relations in the energy sector. Large volumes of Azerbaijani oil are transported to Italy. Azerbaijan ranks first in Italy’s oil imports – our country’s crude oil accounts for 15 per cent in Italy’s imports. The polypropylene plant commissioned today is an excellent example of our cooperation in the field of industrial production. Our countries cooperate in other spheres, including the fields of infrastructure, construction, transport and agriculture.

Our countries have rich historical and cultural ties as well. Political and diplomatic relations were established between the Azerbaijani state of Aggoyunlu and the Venetian Republic back in the 15th century. The Embassy of the Venetian Republic functioned in Azerbaijan from 1469 to 1478. At that time, Azerbaijani diplomats held negotiations in the Naples Kingdom. I should also note that Baku and Naples became twin cities in 1972.

Cooperation in the field of culture is also carried out successfully. A monument to brilliant Azerbaijani thinker Nizami Ganjavi was unveiled in Rome in 2012. With support from the Azerbaijani side, work was carried out to restore the Roman Forum. The joint humanitarian projects implemented with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation have further strengthened our ties in the field of culture.

Azerbaijan is one of the countries that actively participated at the Milan Expo in 2015 and was among the first to build a separate pavilion there. Our pavilion was visited by 3.2 million people.

The opening of an exhibition organized by the Heydar Aliyev Center together with the Italian Uffizi Gallery is scheduled for tomorrow. This exhibition will showcase the portraits of a great son of the Azerbaijani people, commander and poet Shah Ismail Khatai, and Shah Tahmasp kept in the Uffizi Gallery. I want to express my gratitude to the Italian side on this occasion.

Azerbaijan today plays an active role in regional cooperation and security. However, the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, which has been ongoing for more than 20 years, poses great obstacles to peace in the region. As a result of this aggression, 20 per cent of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan has been occupied, more than a million of our compatriots have become refugees and IDPs, and a policy of ethnic cleansing has been carried out against Azerbaijanis. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions demanding an unconditional withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the territory of Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, Armenia flouts these resolutions. The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved solely on the basis of norms and principles of international law and within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

The "Partnership Priorities" document initialed between Azerbaijan and the European Union several days ago, along with the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of countries, also reflects the commitment to support the inviolability of international borders of states. In the Declaration adopted at the end of the recent NATO Summit in Brussels, the Allies reaffirmed their support for the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as the settlement of the conflict on the basis of these principles. We do hope that Italy, as a country presiding over the OSCE, will play an active role in the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.