A two-day visit to Kazakhstan by Alfredo Mantica, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, ended today. This ended his tour of Central Asia, which in late March took him to Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
In Astana, Sen. Mantica had a series of meetings that commenced with an in-depth discussion with the Secretary of State to the Presidency of the Republic, Sundabayev. This was followed by talks with the Deputy Energy Minister, Maganov, the Deputy Foreign Minister, Zhigalov, the Deputy Speaker of the Senate, Kopeev, and the Deputy Transport Minister, Kuterbekov.
“I renewed Prime Minister Berlusconi’s invitation to Presidepnt Nazarbayev to come to Rome”, said Secretary of State Mantica. “This would be an ideal occasion to sign a number of important agreements currently at an advanced stage of negotiation. And just before that, we could hold the 5th Mixed Commission for Economic and Industrial Cooperation, co-chaired by Minister Scajola”.
Italy already has sound political and economic relations with Kazakhstan, as it is the country’s second trading partner after Russia. This is largely thanks to the presence of ENI-AGIP, whose Caspian Sea installations Sen. Mantica visited: AGIP’s on-shore facility at Bolashak and ENI’s off-shore installation at Kashagan. The latter is ENI’s biggest project worldwide. Italy’s economic presence in Kazakhstan also extends to other leading companies in the oil, infrastructure and financial sectors, with UNICREDIT now holding the 4th local bank. Sen. Mantica pointed out that “there are very real margins to build on these relationships, including in the construction and infrastructure sectors, which are attracting lively Italian interest”.
On the political front, Secretary of State Mantica underscored Kazakhstan’s important standing in Central Asia. “We feel it can perform a stabilising function in the region and make a substantial contribution to combating drag trafficking and terrorism in Afghanistan, including in collaboration with NATO. I was also pleased”, concluded the Secretary of State, “to see Kazakhstan’s requests to further strength its links with the European Union. The country’s commitment to meeting European standards has won Astana EU support for the OECD Presidency in 2010”.
Sen. Mantica ended his visit to Astana with a meeting with the local Italian community