Italian Ambassador Giorgio Starace: 'Tatarstan is certainly a priority of my work in Russia'
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Russia in the exclusive interview to Realnoe Vremya
Appointed to the post on October 1, 2021, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Russia, Giorgio Starace, began his acquaintance with the Russian regions, like his predecessor, Signor Pasquale Terraciano, with Tatarstan. On 22 November, the delegation of the Embassy met with the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov. Giorgio Starace told in the exclusive interview with Realnoe Vremya what is the reason for the choice and what plans Italy builds 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 how much has already been done over this time. However, it seems that you start your acquaintance with the Russian regions directly from Tatarstan. What caused this choice?
Immediately after my appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and arrival in Russia, we seriously and for quite a long time discussed this issue. The decision made is verified and not accidental.
Tatarstan is a republic that has achieved great success. Recently, this has been one of the most actively developing regions of Russia. In almost all spheres: culturally, economically, and socially. 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 need and can be discussed with the president”
One of the important components of your trip is a meeting with the pesident of Tatarstan, Mr. Minnikhanov. What issues were planned for discussion?
I should note that the president of Tatarstan, Mr. Minnikhanov, is certainly an outstanding political figure.
Besides, Mr. Minnikhanov is certainly a knowledgeable economist who created today's economy of Tatarstan. It is clear that there are many areas that can and should be discussed with the president of Tatarstan. First of all, we are interested in strengthening and growing cooperation in the economic sphere between Italy and Tatarstan.
There is interest for interaction
At the international level, much attention is now being paid to building relations between the regions of the states. In what areas and directions would Italy, its provinces and lands be interested in developing further cooperation with Tatarstan?
An interesting question, which is difficult for me to answer. Here's the thing: Russia is a Federation with a fairly high autonomy of its constituent republics and regions. This allows the regions to actively pursue a policy of attracting investment and strengthening trade exchange. Italy is not a federal state, and therefore Italy is a mosaic of very different districts, regions, regions that are interesting each by itself. Now there is a great industrial growth in the south of Italy. Actually, just like in Russia. It is difficult for me to single out any particular area that could have priority ties with Tatarstan.
Here is our consul, for example, from Tuscany, and, of course, he has a great interest in that it is Tuscany that develops active ties with Tatarstan. It's natural (laughs).
Certainly, we can say that the north of Italy is the most industrialised part of Italy. Lombardy, for example. I can proudly say that the north of Italy is one of the most developed areas in Europe. And of course, this territory also has an interest for interaction with Tatarstan.
“Now the visa center will be right here — in Kazan”
We drew attention to that today, here in Tatarstan, the Italian delegation is quite representative. How intense will this visit be? Are meetings with representatives of Tatarstan business already planned? Visiting objects and territories?
Actually, the delegation is not that big, and even too small for the goals that we set for ourselves (laughs). The programme is really very busy: from the meeting with the president of Tatarstan to meetings with representatives of banking sector and businesses.
In fact, my visit is rather a representative and preparatory visit. I must personally see and familiarise myself with the possibilities to understand how to proceed further 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 other visits at other times, including in a personal format. Of course, there will be working trips of Italian business delegations who are very interested in building relations.
An important part of my visit was the opening of the visa centre at Ostrovsky Street, 87 (in Kazan — ed.). Previously, in order to get a visa, travel companies took documents to Moscow. Now the visa centre will be right here — in Kazan. Thus we have become a little closer. We plan that this will be just the beginning for the opening of visa centres in other places, too. And this 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 centres of tourist attraction. Will it be possible to find time in the busy schedule of the visit to get acquainted with the republic at least slightly? Or are you planning to come specially for this purpose in the foreseeable future?
I can say that this is my dream. But I am not sure that it will be realised in the very near future.
In fact, not only my dream, but also the desire of the consul is to study Russia more closely, to get to know its regions more closely. And Tatarstan, of course, is the place where I would like to stay longer.
And my another dream is to learn the language…
What language? Russian or Tatar? There are two official languages in Tatarstan.
Russian for now. It will be difficult to learn two languages at once (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 need to actively build relations in various spheres: cultural, educational, scientific... What role can Tatarstan play in these processes and what are we lacking for this yet?
I think that, first of all, we need to 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 firms and companies are already successfully operating in Tatarstan. These are Giuseppe Sparta, one of the first Italian residents in Tatarstan, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, Tecnimont company, as well as CNH with a large plant in Naberezhnye Chelny... Besides, the parties should strengthen the possibilities of transport and logistics communication.
I am confident that strong trade and economic ties and reliable transport links will become a reliable foundation for the development and strengthening of Russian-Italian and Tatarstan-Italian ties in all other spheres.
Giorgio Starace is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Russia.
Born on February 23, 1959 in Vitebsk.
In 1982, he graduated from the Department of Political Economy of the Bocconi University of 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 Trade Department at the Italian Embassy in Beijing.
From 1996 to 1999 — Adviser on International Affairs at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry of Italy.
From 1999 — Advisor to the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN in New York.
From 2002 — the Italian Embassy in New Delhi.
From 2006 — Diplomatic Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry of Italy.
From 2010 — Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to the UAE.
From 2015 — Special Representative of the Minister for Libya at the General Directorate for Political Affairs and Security.
From 2017 — Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Japan.
From 1 October, 2021 — Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Russia.