(MENAFN Press) The Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta stressed that his official visit to the United Arab Emirates falls under the heading of strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries, and also bears an economic dimension, in view of the abundance of prevailing investment opportunities.
During an exclusive interview on "Al Arabiya" News Channel, and within the framework of his visit to the UAE - that included a delegation of senior ministers from the Italian government, as well as political and economic officials - Prime Minister Letta visited the Headquarters of "MBC Group", in Dubai Media City, where "Al Arabiya" News Channel studios are located.
With regards to the primary objective of visiting the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister Letta stated that he is showcasing a master plan for the privatization in Italy, and added: "We have to benefit from the current opportunities; for example, Italy will host "Expo 2015" next year in Milano, whereas Dubai will host "Expo 2020", in 6 years. Therefore, the linkage between the two is established, and we are bound to make the most out of this opportunity". PM Letta further stressed that Dubai had supported the bid of Italy hosting "Expo 2015", similarly to Italy's support of the Dubai's bid to host "Expo 2020", therefore clearly marking a mutual interest and mutually beneficial cooperation.
As for the broader economic cooperation between Italy and the GCC countries, Prime Minister Letta elaborated on the abundance of opportunities in various fields and industries that include "Aviation", particularly between "Etihad Airways" in the UAE and "Alitalia" in Italy; in addition to industry and commerce; financial markets; and other sectors of Economy & Trade. PM Letta further said that "we are bound to take into consideration that Italy is in the process of Privatizing a number of public entities, such as the "Post", "Water Basins/Sewage" among others, in a drive to generate nearly Euro 15 Billion. PM Letta assured during his interview on "Al Arabiya", the willingness of Italy to cooperate with the United Arab Emirates and GCC countries, over Privatization, as the country is seeking to attract additional capital from the Gulf, with the aim of further strengthening investments; in parallel, many of the Italian investors today are seeking to invest in the UAE and other Gulf countries.
Regarding political affairs, Prime Minister Letta discussed the Palestinian cause and the Middle East Peace Process, assuring that Italy supports U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's initiative to
resolve the conflict in the region, and backs the "two-states" solution, while hoping that Italy can help Palestinians and Israelis, thanks to its close ties to both. PM Letta further referred to his recent support to rebuild the infrastructure in Palestine, during his recent and latest visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah.
On the issue of Iran, Prime Minister Letta elaborated that Italy is "cautious" when it comes to its economic exchanges with Iran, and further added: "However, it is worth investing in change, embodied nowadays by the new representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran - President Hassan Rohani". And in this context, PM Letta said that he had discussed the subject matter with Emirati officials, seeking their point of view and alignment, as it is a strategic and important one.
On a different note, the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta talked about the illegal immigration emanating from some Arab countries into Italy, and that the country takes good care of the Humanitarian side of this immigration, especially that the Italian Coast Guard had rescued about 4,000 people in the Mediterranean Sea, during the recent period. Prime Minister Letta pointed out that the "Immigration File" is a European one, and not a pure and simple Italian one, and therefore Italy is in amidst discussions with other European countries, to seek new means of cooperation with Arab countries, especially where refugees immigrate from, such as Libya.
It's worth noting that Prime Minister Letta had talked, at the beginning of his interview on "Al Arabiya" News Channel, about the impact of his official visit to the UAE and the extent of it potentially affecting the Italian Budget Deficit; the PM explained that the situation in the Euro zone, and Italy in particular, was difficult in the past, pointing out that 2014 is a turning point for Italy, as it will be able to reduce the public debt for the first time in 6 years". And PM Letta to finally conclude: "2014 is expected to witness a 1% growth, while next year a growth rate of 2% is envisaged".