Augusto Massari: "Azerbaijanis and Italians are very similar"
Two months ago, Augusto Massari became Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Italy to Azerbaijan. He replaced Giampaolo Cutillo, who headed diplomatic mission since 2013. Massari began to work at the Italian Foreign Ministry in 1998 and before his appointment as Ambassador to Azerbaijan he worked at the Italian Embassy in Beijing. Correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza in Baku asked Italian diplomat about the prospects of Azerbaijani-Italian humanitarian and economic cooperation.
- There are several projects in the sphere of culture that connect Azerbaijan and Italy. What are your expectations of humanitarian contacts between Baku and Rome?
- I expect that we will strengthen friendship between Italy and Azerbaijan. I arrived here two months ago, and I feel like I'm home. There are good, hospitable people here. I hope that relations between our peoples, in particular between students of our countries, will become even stronger. Culture is an instrument of strengthening economic and political ties. We want to introduce rich Italian culture to all residents of Azerbaijan, so they would have better understanding of what my country is - a country of art, culture, cinema, music, literature, poetry, but also technologies and innovations. For example, do you know why all "Formula 1" drivers speak Italian?
- All "Formula-1" drivers speak Italian because best mechanics and engineers are Italians. It's true. Italian is not only the language of literature, poetry and art, but also the language of technologies and innovations. Italy is an industrial, producing country, the second in Europe after Germany.
- Are there any plans for cooperation with Azerbaijan in the field of technologies?
- When I arrived here, I immediately got acquainted with state program of economic diversification. I plan to increase cooperation in industry, in addition to oil and gas. We will cooperate in chemical and agricultural industries. I also hope we will cooperate in the field of healthcare and sport medicine.
- What are your expectations of cooperation in the field of science?
- I met with president of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences Akif Alizade. Its building is located next to our embassy. Today we have a bilateral program on scientific projects, but we want more. Because ideas are born and projects are being implemented when scientists communicate, scientists talk to each other. 500 students went to study in Italy this year, in addition to those that already study there.
- Do you agree that Azerbaijanis and Italians are very similar?
- Yes, that's right. Because Azerbaijanis are kind people, they have delicious cuisine, produce good wine and have sea.
- Regarding energy projects, some time ago there were problems with implementation of the TAP project in Italy. Were these problems solved?
- Yes, those problems were resolved. Two weeks ago the Ministry of Environment signed two new decrees on acceleration of works on preparation of the tunnel for gas pipeline. Now everything's on time, Azerbaijani gas will be delivered to Europe via Italy.