ROME, June 1. /TASS/. Brussels and Moscow will be able to restore the atmosphere of mutual trust and return to the level of relations lost over the past 18 months [of the Ukrainian crisis], Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told TASS ahead of his two-day visit to the Russian capital.
"I am planning to discuss in Moscow [today] with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Vice-Premier Arkady Drovkovich the main issues on the international agenda and also the prospects of relations between our two countries. I know that my interlocutors, above all, Italy’s friends are prepared for open and calm dialogue not only on the topics that unite us, but also on more delicate issues where our positions do not always converge. On the other hand, I am sure that I will see on the Russian side the readiness to strengthen our bilateral cooperation in spite of all current restrictions," Gentiloni said.
He added that the dialogue between Russia and Italy had never been severed despite the European sanctions. "We are not talking about a thaw, because our relations have never been frozen. In spite of the sanctions, the channels for dialogue and cooperation with Russia have never been closed and contacts have never interrupted. I am talking not only about contacts on the political level but also about cooperation between our civil societies and economic partnership," Italy’s top diplomat said.
"Russia and Europe, in spite of everything, remain firmly linked by deep historical, cultural ties and economic relations. I am sure that in the context of constructive cooperation with the Russian side on the Ukrainian crisis and, as a result, the desired revision of the sanctions regime, when the necessary premises emerge, Brussels and Moscow will be able to restore the atmosphere of mutual trust and come back to the level of relations lost over the past 18 months," the minister said.
"We believe that the conditions for a dialogue that have emerged in connection with the Ukrainian events, should not affect in a negative way the constructive cooperation in a number of key areas. We know from successful experience, and not only in Italy, that cooperation with Russia helps to facilitate, accelerate and make more effective efforts by the international community to find solutions to common problems," the minister said.