Baku, December 7, AZERTAC
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received a delegation led by Vice-President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Ettore Rosato.
According to AZERTAC, welcoming the delegation, President Ilham Aliyev said:
- Welcome! My warm greetings. I am glad that you are visiting Azerbaijan. You are the first European delegation to visit Azerbaijan after the war. And this is probably no coincidence because the relations between Italy and Azerbaijan are developing very rapidly and are at the highest level today. I think that political relations are at the highest level. My state visit to Italy earlier this year is a clear example of this. Many important documents were signed during that visit, including the Multidimensional Strategic Partnership document. This document reaffirmed our strategic partnership again. Many important issues were discussed during my meetings with both the President and the Prime Minister. At the same time, my meetings with the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives were very positive.
As you know, two years ago, Italian President Mattarella was on an official visit to Azerbaijan. Those visits show that our bilateral relations are on a very solid basis. Today, Italian-Azerbaijani relations are developing very successfully in political, economic and all other spheres. You also know that Italy is Azerbaijan's first trading partner. Last year, our turnover reached $6 billion. Most of it is related to energy resources but I think that the non-oil sector will also have a special place in the coming years. As for the energy sector, as you know, the TAP project will be launched in the near future, which will undoubtedly further strengthen Italian-Azerbaijani relations.
We also have major plans in relation to the humanitarian field and already have many ongoing projects. During my state visit to Italy, cooperation in the field of education was also discussed. We have agreed to establish an Italian-Azerbaijani University. Upon my return to Baku, I gave relevant instructions on this issue. I think that a building for the university will be built in the near future. I keep this issue in the spotlight and am regularly informed about it. I must also say that based on the information provided to me, there will be several faculties in the university. When I looked at the list, I saw that there was no faculty of architecture, so I suggested that it be added. After all, Italian architecture is a universal human asset, and the construction sector, which is widespread in our country, must certainly have a modern appearance. Of course, young people studying at the Italian-Azerbaijani University will make a special contribution to the relations between the two countries.
At the same time, I would like to thank you for visiting both Ganja and Aghdam and witnessing the war crimes committed by the Armenian state. War crimes committed by Armenia are obvious. While suffering a defeat on the battlefield, Armenia fired on civilians. They fired at Ganja with ballistic missiles from the territory of Armenia. This is a war crime, and the Armenian leadership will be held accountable for this crime. During the war, 94 civilians were killed and more than 400 were injured. The strike with ballistic missiles was not accidental. It was deliberately aimed at civilians at night so that there would be more casualties. You also saw the city of Aghdam. As a matter of fact, there is nothing left of the city, all the buildings have been destroyed. This is a crime that shows the ugly face of Armenian fascism. They thought that the Azerbaijanis would never return to these lands. But we returned and drove them out of our lands in battle. We put them on their knees.
Now a new era is beginning for our country. We will rebuild all those regions. Preliminary steps have already been taken and initial infrastructure projects have been launched. But the scenes you see in Aghdam are observed in almost all the liberated lands. There is not a single safe building left in Fuzuli and Jabrayil cities. Zangilan and Gubadli are in the same situation. The Armenian state has pursued a policy of illegal settlement in Kalbajar and Lachin districts. This is a war crime, a step that runs counter to Geneva Conventions. Some houses remain in some settlements in these districts. They were inhabited by Armenians. However, from 10 November to 1 December, the time in which they had to leave these districts, they also committed atrocities there, burning and demolishing houses. Those houses were not built by them, but by the Azerbaijanis who lived there 30 years ago. They burned the forests and cut down trees. In other words, they committed atrocities right in front of the eyes of the whole world. International media have also reported on this. The whole world saw what vandals Azerbaijan was facing and managed to restore its territorial integrity by waging a war against these vandals on its own.
A restoration period is now setting in. Large-scale construction work will be carried out. Of course, first of all, Azerbaijani companies will take part in this work, and we will invite companies from countries that are friendly to us. Rather, we have already invited them. I would very much like Italian companies to take an active part in this work, i.e. in the restoration and reconstruction work. These proposals have already been made to the Italian side. Preliminary contacts will be established via a videoconference in the coming days. Of course, I want to say again that companies from friendly countries will take part in this work. And true friendship manifests itself in difficult times. For us, this war also showed who the real friends of Azerbaijan are, which countries. We are people who value friendship. Your visit to Azerbaijan once again shows that Italy is a true friend of Azerbaijan. Welcome again!
Vice-President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Ettore Rosato said:
- Mr. President, thank you for receiving us. We are pleased to be here at such a time of great importance for your country. In fact, we have been preparing for this visit for a long time to express our feelings of friendship to you. We said that we should definitely come to your country at such an important time. Your Excellency, as you said, the friendship between us, its signs have been especially manifested in recent years. As for the visits between our countries, these visits were organized at a very high level. The official visit of the President of the Italian Republic to your country was a very important step in the development of our relations. We also view your state visit to Rome as an event of strategic importance. We also know as your friends that many agreements, in particular, an important document on strategic partnership was signed during the visit. In fact, these are the agreements that reflect very specific obligations and a very important essence.
Azerbaijan is the first exporter of energy to Italy. In such turbulent times, we can entrust energy security to a country that has truly friendly relations with us. We want to strengthen this friendship and diversify our relations.
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Vice-President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Ettore Rosato expressed his condolences over Azerbaijani civilians who lost their lives in the conflict, and touched upon his visits to Ganja and Aghdam. He noted the delegation had witnessed the devastation committed in Aghdam during the 30-year occupation. “It is actually difficult to believe that people used to live there,” he said.
Ettore Rosato conveyed greetings on behalf of the presidents of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and the Italian Senate to President Ilham Aliyev.