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Italian top diplomat stresses nobody is interested in worsening Russia-EU ties

October 05, 11:48 UTC+3 ROME
The foreign minister notes that cooperation with Russia opens up many opportunities
1 pages in this article
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni

© EPA/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

ROME, October 5. /TASS/. Nobody is interested in worsening relations with Russia, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said at the opening of another meeting of the Russian-Italian council for economic, industrial, currency and financial cooperation.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich is chairing the meeting. Gentiloni believes that Russia should be cooperated with in such matters as the settlement of regional crises, the migration problem and the struggle with terrorism.

"This forum is one of the pillars of our economic interaction with Moscow. Of late, purely economic matters have been complemented by tourism and culture," Gentiloni said.

He recalled the political complexities the Ukrainian crisis had brought about and the sanctions against Russia that followed.

"Nobody, neither the European Union nor Italy, is interested in worsening relations with Russia. On the contrary, cooperation with Russia opens up many opportunities, but it should be built on mutual trust," Gentiloni said.

He underscored the importance of joint work with Russia on the settlement of crises, from Ukraine to Syria, the search for a solution to the migration problem and also the struggle against terrorism.

About the situation in Syria Gentiloni said once again that Moscow was expected to carry out positive mediation and cause influence on Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

Conditions to lift sanctions

The foreign minister went on to say that Italy hopes that conditions to remove the sanctions imposed on Russia will be created soon since it has always been interested in dialogue with Russia.

"I have always said that sanctions are a political tool, not policy alone. The EU made a strong, unilateral and consistent choice in favor of restrictions that are not punitive. That is, they are necessary for establishing a meaningful dialogue that was at risk in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis. The sanctions are reversible and we hope that soon some ground will be provided for the lifting of sanctions," Gentiloni said.

In his opinion, although the sanctions have negatively affected Italian-Russian trade turnover, at the same time they have offered new opportunities to boost cooperation. "Our businessmen have turned to new areasof innovation that are not affected by the restrictions," the minister said adding that the drop in Italy’s exports to Russia was not the result of the sanctions alone. "Some difficulties are affecting the Russian economy as a result of the collapse in oil prices and the falling ruble. All these reasons together translated into less effective economic cooperation," Gentiloni noted.

The Italian foreign minister stated that "Italian-Russian relationship has always been strong and has never faced any rifts." He added that in 2015-2016 there have been more contacts between the two countries than in previous years. "This bears testimony to the necessity of maintaining dialogue with Russia and also our interest in it. We have always stood up for this necessity, now our position is shared at the EU level," Italy’s foreign minister said.

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