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ROME, May 31. /TASS/. The sanctions imposed by the European Union and supported by Italy against Russia are causing damage to the Italian economy, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in an exclusive interview with TASS on Sunday.
The Italian foreign minister is arriving in Moscow on a two-day visit on Sunday.
‘The sanctions are equally damaging for those who introduce them and those against whom they are introduced. Naturally, the Italian economy has also suffered from them but it is necessary to consider the sanctions' political significance and not only their economic consequences," the foreign minister said.
The EU sanctions are of reversible nature, he added.
"As soon as the Minsk accords [on the Ukraine crisis settlement] are implemented in full, the EU will be ready to review the restrictions regime," the Italian foreign minister said.
The European Union has lost the Moscow-led South Stream gas pipeline project, in which Italy’s energy company ENI acted as Gazprom’s partner, not because of European sanctions, the foreign minister said.
"On our part, we have always considered that diversification of the sources of energy supplies and the gas and oil pipeline routes is the best guarantee of energy security," the foreign minister said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced late last year Russia was abandoning its South Stream gas pipeline project due to the EU’s unconstructive approach and was switching to the implementation of the Turkish Stream project intended to bring Russian natural gas to Europe via Turkey.
The Italian foreign minister said he was confident that Brussels and Moscow would be able to restore the atmosphere of mutual trust and return to the level of relations lost in the past 18 months over the Ukrainian crisis.
The Italian foreign minister said he intended to discuss the Ukraine developments, the situation in Libya and Syria and the negotiation process with Iran during his visit to Moscow, adding Russia remained an important partner with whom it was necessary to interact to resolve these problems.
The dialog between Russia and Italy has never been interrupted, despite the EU’s sanctions, the Italian foreign minister said.
"We’re not speaking about unfreezing because our relations have never been frozen. Despite the sanctions, the channels of dialog and cooperation with Russia have never been disrupted and I’m speaking not only about contacts at the political level but also about cooperation between civil societies and economic partnership," he said.
The format of the Russia-NATO Council, which appeared thanks to Italy’s diplomatic efforts that resulted in the 2002 Rome Declaration, has not exhausted its potential either, the Italian foreign minister said.
"Even in relations with NATO, despite the existence of all restrictions imposed by the alliance, I see certain encouraging signals in the continued contacts at the military level. It has to be hoped that they will be able to serve for at least partial restoration of cooperation that was built in the past 20 years, including with the efforts of the Italian side," the foreign minister said.