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Foreign Minister Tajani: ‘Italy wants to be key partner for Kazakhstan’

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Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani (pictured) paid an official visit to Kazakhstan on 5 September. In an interview with The Astana Times, Minister Tajani spoke about co-operation between Kazakhstan and Italy, as well as some of the key partnership projects.

Minister Tajani, welcome to Astana. Your visit to Kazakhstan is eagerly awaited. Could you please share some thoughts on its main goals?

I have been looking forward to visiting your beautiful country for so long. Since its independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has always been a key partner for Italy in the region. This visit is to confirm the Italian government’s attention to Central Asia and to Kazakhstan in particular. It is to confirm our friendship, the quality of our relations, and also to reaffirm that we want to strengthen our political, economic and cultural co-operation. Bilateral as well as multilateral cooperation between countries is crucial for global progress.

Could you elaborate on some specific areas where Italy and Kazakhstan have based their longstanding strategic co-operation?

Kazakhstan has always believed in multilateralism, exactly like Italy. That is why we have shared similar views in terms of global challenges, like climate change, food security, sustainable development. Italy is one of Kazakhstan’s most important partners in the European Union, and during more than 30 years of diplomatic relations we have signed several agreements aimed at deepening trade and economic cooperation, promoting and protecting investments. Economic cooperation, especially in the energy field, has always been one of the pillars of our bilateral relations. Add to this a very lively inter-university cooperation, with 97 agreements in place between Italian and Kazakh universities. We have done a lot, but we can do much more. From now on, we would like to tap into the great, still partially unexpressed potential, of our bilateral relations.

Italy is one of the main foreign investors in Kazakhstan, since its independence in 1991. How do you envision this strengthened partnership between Italy and Kazakhstan contributing to regional stability and development?

Italy has never wanted to be a simple “investor” in Kazakhstan, but rather a strategic partner. Immediately after its independence, many Italian companies came to the country, and most of them are still operating here. Our multinationals, as well as SMEs, have grown together with Kazakhstan. They have remained here even in difficult times and they have accompanied the development of its economy, creating jobs and contributing to build stability. There is a tremendous economic potential in Central Asia, and Italy is ready to work with you to seize all opportunities that can mutually benefit us. As always, development is key to peace and stability. Right now, peace is endangered by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. This war of aggression is having a negative effect on so many levels and on a global scale. The International Community should be united in helping the parties build a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.

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What about the future? According to your view, what are the most promising areas to enhance our co-operation?

We are ready to give greater continuity to our political, economic and cultural relations by strengthening the dialogue between our countries. De-carbonization and the fight against climate change; food security; development and digitization of infrastructures; technological transformation. These are crucial global challenges we should tackle together and from which new business opportunities can arise. Renewable energies, agri-business, mechanics and applied technology are very promising sectors for our companies. Many Italian enterprises are already working here, others are ready to come and we will encourage them. However, to do so, we expect Kazakhstan to continue improving its business climate, working on public-private dialogue, within the framework of the economic modernization launched by President Tokayev. Culture is a key driver in our partnership. The opening of the new Italian Cultural Institute in Almaty, the first in the region, confirms the importance we attach to Kazakhstan as a strategic partner in Central Asia and to fostering people-to-people dialogue.

What message would you like to convey to the people of Kazakhstan regarding the future of the Italy-Kazakhstan relationship?

The history and tradition of the Kazakh people are based on interethnic harmony and on the principle of unity in diversity. Unity and diversity enrich societies and contribute to friendship between peoples. I foresee a bright and prosperous future for our friendship. I invite all Kazakhs to do business with Italian companies, to approach the Italian culture and the Italian language, to come and visit Italy.

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