“Tatarstan is definitely a priority of my work in Russia” — RealnoeVremya.com
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Italy to Russia in the exclusive interview with Realnoe Vremya
Appointed to this position on October 1, 2021, the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Italy to Russia, Giorgio Starace, began his acquaintance with Russian regions, like his predecessor, Signor Pasquale Terraciano, of Tatarstan. On November 22, the embassy delegation met with the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov. Giorgio Starace explained in the exclusive interview with Realnoe Vremya what is the reason for the choice and what plans Italy is building for the development of relations with Tatarstan.
Trip to Tatarstan is a verified choice
Signor Starace, you took office at the beginning of October. If we look at the newsline, you can see everything that has already been done during this period. However, it seems that you start your acquaintance with Russian regions directly from Tatarstan. What caused this choice?
Immediately after my appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and my arrival in Russia, we had a long and serious discussion on this issue. The decision taken is verified and not fortuitous.
Tatarstan is a republic that has achieved great success. Recently, this is one of the most actively developing regions of Russia. In almost all areas: cultural, economic and social. It is especially important for us that Tatarstan already has a lot of ties with our country.
Like any ambassador starting out in a new country, I have to choose priorities. And Tatarstan, of course, is a priority in my work.
“There are many areas that should and can be discussed with the president”
One of the highlights of your trip is a meeting with the President of Tatarstan, Mr. Minnikhanov. What issues were planned for discussion?
I must stress that the President of Tatarstan, Mr Minnikhanov, is certainly an outstanding political figure.
In addition, Mr. Minnikhanov is certainly a knowledgeable economist who created the current economy of Tatarstan. It is clear that many areas can and should be discussed with the President of Tatarstan. First of all, we are interested in the strengthening and growth of cooperation in the economic sphere between Italy and Tatarstan.
There is interest in the interaction
At the international level, much attention is now paid to building relationships between regions of states. In what areas and in what directions would Italy, its provinces and territories be interested in further developing their cooperation with Tatarstan?
An interesting question that is difficult for me to answer. Here’s the thing: Russia is a federation with quite a lot of autonomy of its constituent republics and regions. This allows the regions to actively pursue a policy of attracting investment and strengthening trade. Italy is not a federal state, and therefore Italy is a mosaic of very different districts, regions, regions that are interesting each by themselves. There is now a great industrial growth in southern Italy. In fact, like in Russia. It is difficult for me to isolate a particular area which could have priority links with Tatarstan.
Here is our consul, for example, from Tuscany, and, of course, he has a great interest in whether it is Tuscany that develops active ties with Tatarstan. It’s natural (laughs).
Certainly, it can be said that northern Italy is the most industrialized part of Italy. Lombardy, for example. I can proudly say that northern Italy is one of the most developed regions in Europe. And of course, this territory also has an interest in interaction with Tatarstan.
“Now the visa center will be here, in Kazan”
We drew attention to the fact that today here in Tatarstan the Italian delegation is quite representative. How intense will this visit be? Are meetings with representatives of Tatarstan companies already planned? Visit objects and territories?
In fact, the delegation is not that big, and even too small for the goals we have set ourselves (laughs). The program is really very busy: from the meeting with the President of Tatarstan to meetings with representatives of the banking sector and companies.
In fact, my visit is more of a representative and preparatory visit. I personally have to see and get acquainted with the possibilities of understanding how to proceed to achieve the goals of strengthening and developing relations between Italy and Tatarstan. This trip is the first swallow. Just the beginning. There will be further visits at other times, including in a personal format. Of course, there will be work trips from Italian business delegations very interested in building relationships.
An important part of my visit was the opening of the visa center at Ostrovsky Street, 87 (in Kazan – ed.). Previously, to obtain a visa, travel agencies brought documents to Moscow. Now the visa center will be here in Kazan. So we got a little closer. We anticipate that this will only be the beginning of the opening of visa centers in other locations as well. And it is a clear demonstration that Tatarstan is important for Italy.
“Tatarstan is a place where I would like to stay longer”
As far as we know, you have never been to Tatarstan in general and Kazan in particular before. Kazan is called the third capital of Russia and the cultural and sports capital, and the whole of Tatarstan is one of the centers of tourist attraction. Will it be possible to find time in the busy schedule of the visit to get to know the republic at least slightly? Or do you plan to come specifically for this purpose in the foreseeable future?
I can say it’s my dream. But I’m not sure that will materialize in the very near future.
In fact, not only my dream, but also the consul’s desire is to study Russia more closely, to get to know its regions better. And Tatarstan, of course, is where I would like to stay longer.
And my other dream is to learn the language…
Which language? Russian or Tatar? There are two official languages in Tatarstan.
Russian so far. It will be difficult to learn two languages at the same time (laughs).
There are many opportunities for the development of ties between Italy and Tatarstan
When you took office, in one of your first interviews with the Russian media, you stressed that the parties must actively build relations in various fields: cultural, educational, scientific… What role can Tatarstan play in these processes and what are we still missing for it?
I think that, first of all, we should focus on strengthening and developing ties in the field of industry and economy. I am sure that there are huge opportunities for the development of economic ties between Italy and Russia, Italy and Tatarstan. Many Italian companies and companies are already successfully operating in Tatarstan. These are Giuseppe Sparta, one of the first Italian residents in Tatarstan, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, the Tecnimont company, as well as CNH with a large plant in Naberezhnye Chelny… In addition, the parties should strengthen transport possibilities and logistics communication.
I am convinced that strong trade and economic ties and reliable transport connections will become a reliable basis for the development and strengthening of Russian-Italian and Tatarstan-Italian relations in all other areas.
Giorgio Starace is Italy’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Russia.
Born February 23, 1959 in Vitebsk.
In 1982 he graduated from the Department of Political Economy at Bocconi University in Milan.
Since 1985 — diplomatic service.
From 1989 to 1992 he worked in the mission at the Italian Embassy in Guatemala.
From 1992 to 1995 — First Secretary of the Commerce Department at the Italian Embassy in Beijing.
From 1996 to 1999 — Advisor for International Affairs at the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Since 1999 — Counselor of the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN in New York.
Since 2002 — Italian Embassy in New Delhi.
Since 2006 — Diplomatic Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry of Italy.
Since 2010 — Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to the United Arab Emirates.
Since 2015 — Special Representative of the Minister for Libya at the Directorate General for Political Affairs and Security.
Since 2017 — Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Italy to Japan.
From October 1, 2021 — Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Italy to Russia.