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Lavrov hails Italy’s pragmatic approach amid current Russia-EU dialogue

December 04, 2015, 14:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"Unfortunately, the downturn in relations between Russia and the European Union in the context of Ukraine events also had a negative impact on the Russian-Italian cooperation," Lavrov said

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, December 4. /TASS/. Moscow welcomes Rome’s pragmatic and balanced approach to bilateral relations and hopes the current decline will be overcome, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Russian Business Guide magazine on Friday.

"Unfortunately, the downturn in relations between Russia and the European Union in the context of Ukraine events also had a negative impact on the Russian-Italian cooperation," Lavrov said.

Many bilateral events have been postponed indefinitely amid certain difficulties, Lavrov said.

"At the same time we are glad to note that in the current uneasy conditions, Rome is showing a balanced and pragmatic approach and is seeking to minimize the damage for the potential of partnership developed for decades," Lavrov said. "We welcome this attitude."

Russia and Italy have been holding a regular dialogue at the highest level, Lavrov said. Since October last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have had five meetings, he said.

Of late, several steps have been taken to resume cooperation between the parliamentarians and step up the interdepartmental cooperation, Russia’s top diplomat said.

"Inter-regional exchanges play an important role in developing the Russian-Italian ties," Lavrov said. Several Russian regions have held presentations at the recent EXPO-2015 in Milan, Italy.

Speaking on bilateral cooperation in various areas, Lavrov said "our energy cooperation has rich experience" and "close contacts have been established" between Russian energy giant Gazprom and Italy’s Eni.

"High technologies and space industry are becoming one of the priority areas of bilateral efforts," he added.

In 2009, a Russian-Italian inter-governmental agreement was signed on mutually accepting documents on education issued in Russia and Italy. Its ratification procedure by the Italian side "has entered the final stage."

Lavrov said the cultural and humanitarian sphere is also among the priorities in the bilateral cooperation. On December 14-16, Russia’s Hermitage will host Italy Days as part of the IV St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum. A round table attended by culture ministers of the two countries will be also held.

"During this meeting, plans will be mapped out for the further development of the Russian-Italian cooperation in the culture sphere," Lavrov said in the interview with the magazine.

Lavrov said he is convinced that "common efforts will help the sides to overcome the current downturn and return bilateral relations to the trajectory of sustainable development."

"Such a vector of joint work meets the interests of people of Russia and Italy and the tasks of creating a zone of economic and humanitarian cooperation on the vast space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean based on the architecture of equal and indivisible security," he stressed.

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