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ROME, December 5. /TASS/. Italian party Northern League leader Matteo Salvini on Thursday called on the European Union and the United States to listen to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s words.
In a conversation with a TASS correspondent, the politician said he had been following, from the Belgian capital, Putin’s state-of-the-nation address to Russia’s parliament, the Federal Assembly.
Salvini said “particular attention should be paid to Putin’s speech.” “Brussels and Washington should particularly listen to the statement that Russia has no intention to stop relations with Europe and the United States. I hope both Brussels and Washington listen to these words,” he said.
Putin on relations with other countries
In his annual state-of-the-nation address on Thursday, Putin in particular said: “We will protect the diversity of the world. We will tell the truth to people abroad, so that everyone can see the real and not distorted and false image of Russia.”
“We will actively promote business and humanitarian relations, as well as scientific, education and cultural relations. We will do this even if some governments attempt to create a new iron curtain around Russia,” he said.
“We will never enter the path of self-isolation, xenophobia, suspicion and the search for enemies. All this is evidence of weakness, while we are strong and confident,” the Russian president said.
“Our goal is to have as many equal partners as possible, both in the West and in the East. We will expand our presence in those regions where integration is on the rise, where politics is not mixed with economy, and where obstacles to trade, to exchange of technology and investment and to the free movement of people are lifted,” he said.
“Under no conditions will we curtail our relations with Europe or America. At the same time, we will restore and expand our traditional ties with South America. We will continue our cooperation with Africa and the Middle East,” Putin said.
Salvini also said: “From the viewpoint of the Northern League leader, I particularly value the passage about the right to protect sovereignty, because for us sovereignty means the right to defend our identity.”
“We share the same values, and I hope these values will be shared by the entire Europe, the Europe we want to build together with our likeminded people - the French, Austrians, the Flemish,” the Italian politician said.
In his address to parliament, Vladimir Putin also said: “If for some European countries national pride is a long-forgotten concept and sovereignty is too much of a luxury, true sovereignty for Russia is absolutely necessary for survival.”
“Primarily, we should realize this as a nation. I would like to emphasize this: either we remain a sovereign nation, or we dissolve without a trace and lose our identity. Of course, other countries need to understand this, too. All participants in international life should be aware of this,” he said.
“And they should use this understanding to strengthen the role and the importance of international law, which we’ve talked about so much lately, rather than bend its standards to suit someone's strategic interests contrary to its fundamental principles and common sense, considering everyone else to be poorly educated people who can’t read or write,” the Russian president said.
Salvini wished Putin “success in his work for the good and prosperity of his people” and said he “hopes the work will be continued in the spirit of preserving international cooperation.”
Earlier Thursday, speaking from the European Parliament rostrum, the Italian politician called for cancelation of Western sanctions against Russia.
The Northern League party, established in 1989, traditionally represents the interests of northern regions of the Apennine Mountains. It has repeatedly made part of the ruling coalition with Silvio Berlusconi. The party’s popularity in Italy is currently growing, which can be seen by results of the latest regional elections.
The Northern League constitutes opposition in Italy’s national parliament and is ranked among the so-called group of Euro-skeptics in the European Parliament.
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March after a coup rocked Ukraine in February.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway.
Russia has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.
Italian Economic Development Minister Federica Guidi said in early September that European sanctions imposed on Russia and Moscow’s countersanctions have inflicted a loss of up to 100 million euros on Italy’s economy.