MOSCOW, July 3. /TASS/. Russia considers Italy one of its most important partners and plans to fuel expansion of economic ties with the country, Kremlin Aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters prior to the visit of President Vladimir Putin to Rome on July 4.
He added that the program of President’s official visit contains a meeting with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella and the talks with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
"Italy is one of Russia’s most important partners, we are implementing large-scale projects in various sectors," Ushakov said, adding that the upcoming visit "is set to strengthen an obvious trend of intensifying the political dialogue and cooperation in economy and culture."
"The complex of economic issues will be prioritized as we are concerned about the fact that trade turnover between our countries cannot reach the level of 2013 of $54 bln," Kremlin’s representative said. He noted though that "a positive trend has emerged over the past two years: in 2018 trade turnover gained 13% to $27 bln." However, he added, "neither Russia nor Italian partners are satisfied with those figures."
"The paradoxical situation is that none of 500 Italian companies operating on the Russian market have withdrawn, but nevertheless due to sanctions and reciprocal measures Italy went down in the list of our most important partners from the third or fourth spot to eighth," Ushakov said, adding that due to that "economic issues would dominate (the agenda of the talks)."
Kremlin Aide also emphasized the development of cultural and humanitarian contacts. "That cooperation is developing quite fast," he said. "Tourist exchanges are expanding: in 2018 Italian travelers made over 205,000 trips to Russia, an increase of 8.5% compared with 2017, whereas Russians made 1.08 mln trips to Italy, a 21.6% rise compared with 2017," he said.
"As for international and regional problems we plan a detailed exchange of opinions on such issues as Russia-European Union, the Syrian situation, Ukraine, the situation around Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program, and, of course, the Libyan situation will be dwelled upon," Ushakov said.