has interviewed Chargé d'Affaires at the Italian Embassy in Azerbaijan Giulia Gullotti. The following is the text of the interview:
Q: How will the realization of TAP benefit the bilateral relations between Italy and Azerbaijan?
A: Italy and Azerbaijan maintain excellent relations, cemented by a fruitful political and economical dialogue with particular regard to energy sector. Even though we are currently working to diversify our bilateral trade. Energy is the milestone of our economic partnership. This partnership has been further strengthened by the decision of Shah-Deniz Consortium in June 2013 to choose the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline as the route to transport natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Italy and Europe.
The Italian Government strongly supports the Southern Corridor export route for Azerbaijani gas that will include the TAP and TANAP pipelines. Through the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, Azerbaijan will play a fundamental role in ensuring energy security in Italy, guaranteeing diversification of routes.
As in the Middle age the Silk Road across Azerbaijan provided Italy with rich and abundant supplies from the East, so the TAP pipeline will in the future provide our country with copious supplies too.
Q: What can you say about the bilateral cooperation in the fields of culture and tourism?
A: There are longstanding cultural ties between Italy and Azerbaijan. The history of cultural exchange between our two countries dates back to ancient times when the Florentine and Venetian merchants crossed Azerbaijan in what was once known as the “Silk Road”. Today, one of our main objectives is to make known the riches of Azerbaijan in Italy and to promote the Italian culture in your country.
With regard to the promotion of Italy in Azerbaijan, the Embassy promotes various cultural events annually in order to intensify cultural relations between our two countries, in particular, the Week of Italian Language in the World in October and the European Film Festival are organized each year as well as exhibitions, film screenings and concerts of Italian music.
In the course of 2014 the Embassy organized an exhibition of Capri in cooperation with the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and the Capri Foundation, the Concert “O ‘Sole Mio... Musical journey in between Italy and Azerbaijan” of the duo Alterno International Soprano Tiziana Scandaletti and pianist Riccardo Piacentini at the Mugham Center in Baku and a cultural evening of Friuli Venezia Giulia at the Diplomatic Academy ADA. Furthermore, an Italian Film Festival will be organized next October in one of the main cinema theatres of the capital with the screening of most famous Italian films.
With regard to tourism, Italy has a great tourist tradition and we are ready to give our advice and to assist Azerbaijan in developing this sector. Moreover, we believe that Azerbaijan has a great potential, largely from the point of view of history and natural beauty. The entry into force of the Agreement on visa facilitation with the EU will give undoubtedly a stimulus to the development of tourism and we are sure that in the near future we will get concrete results. In terms of tourist flows, the number of visas is growing (over 8,000 visas in 2013), particularly in the high-end segment. A testimony to the strong links that unites Italy and Azerbaijan and the appreciation of the culture of our country receives from the Azeri public, is testified by the numerous cultural events during the last few months which were attended by international caliber Italian stars. Among others, this included a big concert in the frame of the Crystal Hall in Baku with the stars of the Sanremo Festival, presented by actress Ornella Muti the concert of great Maestro Ennio Morricone as well as the performance of the Italian tenor Alessandro Safina. The myth of Italian cinema Italian actress Claudia Cardinale was also in Baku for an event dedicated to her. Also, reflecting the strong love for Italian style, a catwalk of Ermanno Scervino took place in Baku last December.