President Sheikh Mohamed with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at Al Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi.
Being in Abu Dhabi, my first trip to the Gulf since taking office as prime minister of Italy, makes me especially happy. One of the top goals of my government is investing in the greater Mena region, and we think that in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, close cooperation with the Gulf states is essential.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has blatantly demonstrated the necessity for rapid action to address several changes that were already under way before to the conflict if we are to successfully navigate the difficult obstacles that lie ahead.
We had a problem with an overwhelming reliance on foreign sources of energy, especially Russia. Italy was particularly vulnerable to the effects of this predicament at the beginning of the war because more than 40% of its natural gas was imported from Russia. The percentage of gas imported from Russia is now less than 20% as a result of our vigorous energy diplomacy. We were able to diversify our energy supplies, and Algeria is now our main source of gas. In order to ensure a mutual and sustainable expansion, we are expanding our natural gas supply, particularly from North Africa, and maintaining our commitment to a green energy transition.
This is why I am especially happy that during my visit, our respective energy companies ENI and Adnoc adopted a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Transition Initiatives. This agreement will focus on lowering gas emissions while collaborating to develop green and blue hydrogen, as well as CO2 capture and storage technology.
At Cop28, which will take place in Dubai at the end of this year, the international community will have to rise to the difficult and pressing challenge of combating climate change. As decided at Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh, we wish to collaborate with the Emirates to identify the procedures that will best assist the most vulnerable nations in coping with catastrophic weather occurrences. I think the UAE has demonstrated a tremendous sensitivity to these challenges, and your choice to host Irena, a UN agency focused on renewable energy, is a significant indicator of your dedication to creating sustainable energy sources in the future.
The digital revolution and the restructuring of our value chains in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak represent the other major problem of our day. In order to take advantage of advanced computing while making sure that we have the resources to protect our societies against new and emerging risks, issues like the impact of artificial intelligence on the moral values of our societies need to be integrated into our domestic and international policies. The conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated that hybrid warfare is now a reality, and it is essential to create a cyber-defence architecture to safeguard our communities. Again, these are difficulties of unparalleled complexity, and we can only meet them if we cooperate with allies like the UAE.
I came to your lovely country shortly after a memorable vacation to New Delhi. Italy needs to put in a lot of effort, in my opinion, to develop its alliances with countries throughout the Indo-Pacific, from the Euro-Mediterranean to the UAE and India. We aim to collaborate while preserving our identities and values in order to benefit our population on a mutually beneficial basis. I'm glad we adopted a statement for a strategic partnership because it opens the door to productive cooperation in many areas of mutual interest.
I view my visit as the beginning of deepening our ties, and I am deeply appreciative to President Sheikh Mohamed for welcoming me and my party. We are prepared to start a new chapter in our bilateral relations history together.
Energy dependency, the digital transition and climate change require collaboration with partners such as the Emirates : Giorgia Meloni