MOSCOW, February 15. /TASS/. Sanctions are a good reason to strengthen inter-parliamentarian dialogue, Russian State Duma’s First Deputy Speaker Alexander Zhukov said on Friday.
"I am an optimist in general and I think that sanctions against Russia are a good reason to optimize cooperation between parliamentarians," Zhukov said at the meeting with the delegation of Italian parliamentarians. He expressed hope that Russian-Italian inter-parliamentary commission "will work on a regular basis without any long pauses."
Zhukov noted that the next session of the joint commission may take place in May or June. "In general we maintain communication at the level of parliaments. A session of the Russian-Italian inter-parliamentary commission was held in Moscow. We plan to hold another meeting in Italy this year, in May or June," he added.
Head of the Italian delegation and chairman of the parliamentary group "Italy-Russia" Alessandro Pagano said in turn that any complications at the international level will not be able to affect bilateral relations between Moscow and Rome. "Such relations are enshrined in our hearts for many centuries already," he added. "We are brought together by warm feelings of friendship and loyalty to Russia and Russian people," he noted.
The West, inspired by the United States, subjected Russian officials and companies to the first batch of sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March after a coup in Ukraine in February.
New, sectoral, penalties against Russia were announced in late July over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Russia’s alleged involvement in hostilities in Ukraine’s embattled south-east.
Russia responded with imposing on August 6, 2014 a ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.
The Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of "annexing" Crimea — because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, - and Moscow has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine.