Italy to focus on safety and energy with Lebanon

(Interviewing Massimo Marotti, italian amabassador in Lebanon – published on Agi International http://www.agi.it/international/2016/12/20/news/italy_to_focus_on_safety_and_energy_with_lebanon-1325748/)

 

Beirut – Safety, energy, infrastructure and culture are the main points of the new collaboration between Italy and Lebanon. The scope is extensive, with Said Hariri’s new Lebanese government looking to relaunch an old-time partnership. Italy is Beirut’s second main trading partner, despite a drop in investments reported in the past year due to political instability. AGI spoke with the Italian Ambassador to Lebanon, Massimo Mariotti, a few days after the birth of the new government. “Supporting security is one of the major priorities in relations between Italy and Lebanon,” said the ambassador. “In the past 10 years, Italy has been providing a contribution with a military contingent within the Unifil mission, assisting the Lebanese armed forces with a major training programme. The programme is currently in its second year, and a specific mountain troops training session will get underway in January. The training mission is a cutting edge programme and aims to enhance the Lebanese army’s military capabilities and commitment to defending the territory.” Other bilateral activities include economic assistance and cooperation, “which aim to buffer the effect of refugees present in the country, while enhancing available resources and supporting the creation of new jobs.” At a cultural level, “we are diversifying our offer. Besides Italian language programmes, which are recording an increasing number of participants, we will launch the European Film Festival (Italy will hold the presidency on behalf of Malta, ed note) in 2017. We will also enhance the sector of book and periodical publishing within the large fairs held in Lebanon by introducing Italian authors. We are committed to maintaining a good cultural presence in Lebanon, which meets the Lebanese demand and shows the population’s inclination for our country and culture,” added the ambassador. Better economic relations and more jobs are the objectives of intensified economic relations between Lebanon and Italy, ultimately boosting employment in both countries. Ambassador Mariotti explained that the new government has planned the creation of a Ministry of Planning, among other things. “Prime Minister Hariri already mentioned some time ago that he had in mind a five-year plan to develop infrastructure in Lebanon, starting with the supply and distribution of electricity. It is, therefore, necessary to wait for the approval of the state budget. Nevertheless, there is room for Italian entrepreneurs, especially in development projects which will be decided upon by the government. Also, development partnerships with Lebanese companies are foreseen as well. This is an aspect the Embassy has been focusing on carefully.”

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