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Italy-Russia: A key strategic partnership, says Terzi

The Minister is in Moscow for the Foreign Affairs-Defence “2+2” meeting. His comments: We share common values of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights. Excellent bilateral relations, an inter-governmental summit by year-end. Russian market an extraordinary opportunity for our enterprises. President Medvedev: “We want to develop relations with Italy in all possible ways”. Lavrov: “Thank you for your always constructive role on the defence shield and on Russia-EU relations”.

A “fundamental strategic partnership” exists between Italy and Russia, both in bilateral relations and in the various fora of the international organisations. The point was underscored by Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, in Moscow for the “2+2” meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers.

“We are contributing to the values of peace and security”, said Terzi. He pointed out that Italy and Russia share “the values of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights. Values that inspire the partnership between our two countries, in the context of the Pratica di Mare meeting whose 10th anniversary we are celebrating today”.

On the bilateral relations front, Terzi announced that the Italy-Russia inter-governmental summit will be taking place “towards the end of the year”. Today’s meeting in Moscow “was an important opportunity to reaffirm the continuity” of the strategic partnership with Russia, and the importance given to it by Italy. “This was an important meeting, and we have more lined up, with an inter-governmental summit now scheduled towards the end of the year”, he added. “We will be following this pathway at the highest possible levels, giving continuity to the great friendship” between the Russian and Italian peoples.

The declarations by the Russian leaders were similar in tone. “Russia wants to develop its strategic relations with Italy in all possible ways”, said President Dmitri Medvedev when he met Terzi and Defence Minister Di Paola at the end of the “2+2”. Medvedev referred to his meeting with Mario Monti in Seoul, saying that he’d received a very positive impression of the Italian premier and his “comprehensive and interesting” evaluation of the economic situation in the eurozone.

“We shall succeed this time too in taking a further step along the road of developing our bilateral relations”, said the Russian Foreign Minister, Serghiei Lavrov. He thanked Italy for its “always constructive role on the missile defence shield and on Russia-EU relations”.

Today was also an important day on the economic relations front. For the first time in their history, ENI and ENEL are working together on hydrocarbon production in Russia, in north-west Siberia. The Samburskoye field, in Arctic latitudes and over 3,000 km from Moscow, is in the autonomous district of Yamal-Nenets, a region that produces over 90% of Russia’s methane gas. Indeed, it is the world’s biggest gas production area. In Minister Terzi’s view, this operation represents a major advance in bilateral relations.

In more general terms, Terzi commented that our economic recovery will be “much better and much more rapid if we continue to grasp the opportunities offered by collaboration with Russia”. Because “the great potential of the Russian market is an extraordinary resource for our enterprises. It is clear too, however, that any further slowdown in the European economy could not fail to have a negative impact on our collaboration with Russia in energy matters, with damaging effects for all of us”.

Before returning to Rome, Terzi will be meeting a delegation of Italian business people operating in Russia. This is a highly favourable juncture for trade between the two countries, which in 2011 reached 46 billion dollars, an increase of 23% on the previous year.

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