I am particularly pleased to have visited Abu Dhabi, in my first visit to the Gulf region since I started my tenure as Italy’s Prime Minister. Investing in the broader Mena region is one of the key priorities of my government, and we believe a close collaboration with the Gulf states is critical in order to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has clearly shown that certain changes that were already taking place before the war need to be addressed quickly in order to overcome the complex challenges that lie ahead of us.
We were faced with an excessive energy dependency, in particular on Russia. At the start of the war, Italy was particularly exposed to the consequences of this situation, with more than 40 per cent of its natural gas being imported from Russia. Thanks to our intense energy diplomacy, the share of gas imported from Moscow is now reduced to less than 20 per cent. We have managed to diversify our energy sources and Algeria has become our top gas supplier. We are increasing our natural gas supply, especially from North Africa, while continuing to strive for a green transition through clean energy sources, working with our partners to enable a mutual and sustainable growth.
That is why I am particularly pleased that our respective energy companies ENI and Adnoc adopted, during my visit, a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Transition Initiatives, which will concentrate on reducing gas emissions while jointly developing green and blue hydrogen and technology linked to the capture and storage of CO2.
We are very much looking forward to Cop28 that will take place at the end of this year in Dubai, where the international community will need to live up to the complex and urgent challenge of addressing climate change. We want to work with the Emirates in the effort to define those mechanisms that will best support the most vulnerable countries in facing extreme climate events, as agreed at Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh. I believe that the UAE has shown a great sensibility to these issues and the decision to host the UN agency Irena, devoted to renewable energies, is also an important testament to your commitment in developing sustainable energies for the future.
The other great challenge of our times is digital transition and the rethinking of our value chains after the Covid-19 pandemic. In a world that is moving faster every day, issues such as the impact of artificial intelligence on the moral values of our societies need to be integrated into our domestic and international policies, in order to reap the benefits of advanced computing while ensuring that we have the tools to protect our societies against new and emerging risks. The war in Ukraine has shown that hybrid warfare is now a reality and the development of a cyber-defence architecture is critical to protect our societies. Once again, these are challenges of unprecedented complexity and it will be possible to overcome them only if we work together with partners such as the UAE.
I have visited your beautiful country right after a wonderful trip to New Delhi. I believe that Italy needs to work hard to strengthen its partnerships with nations from the Euro-Mediterranean region to the Indo-Pacific, including the UAE and India. We want to work together for the mutual benefit of our citizens, while protecting our identities and values. I am very pleased that we adopted a declaration for a strategic partnership that paves the way for a strong collaboration in many identified areas of common interest.
I see my visit as a first step to strengthening our ties and I am very grateful to President Sheikh Mohamed for opening his doors to me and my delegation. We are ready to write together a new page in the history of our bilateral relations.