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Italy-Russia – Bonino: Moscow key partner for Italy, needs to be for EU

A key partner and leading actor in a frank and constructive relationship that also embraces points of divergence and differences in political priorities, cited Minister for Foreign Affairs Emma Bonino, who spoke at the Italo-Russia Media Forum today, organised at the foreign ministry in Rome on the eve of the intergovernmental summit to be held in Trieste on 26 November. While today’s initiative – attended also by Russian foreign minister Lavrov – also served as an opportunity for exchanges of views among the press members and university and civil society representatives present.

Italo-Russian Media Forum, an exchange of civil society ideas

The importance of a context of relations that does not limit itself to institutional and economic spheres, but that embraces also those of society and culture, was underscored repeatedly during the Media Forum coordinated by ISPI and opened by MFA S-G Ambassador Michele Valensise. The many topics treated ranged from those regarding the Middle East – starting with the draft nuclear agreement signed in Geneva – to Italo-Russian relations, to changes in the world of communications in the digital era.

Bonino cites Russia as major partner despite differences

“Russia is an extremely important partner, and must be also for the EU”. The intergovernmental summit in Trieste “will allow us to examine common interests and will not stop us from saying things about what we don’t agree with”, explained Emma Bonino speaking on Italy’s bilateral relations with Russia. Strategic relations that are strong, nevertheless, “we do not conceal the irritations and difficulties of recent days, interests and political priorities on several themes”, the chief diplomat specified remarking, at the same time, how frank dialogue such as that which we have with Russia is also the basis for the most constructive rapport possible.

Mocow a key partner not only in economic terms, says Dassù

But in order for the bilateral relationship to be truly complete, collaboration has to be more than merely governmental. “Civil society dialogue must help governments discuss a bit of everything”, Deputy Foreign Minister Marta Dassù explained as she spoke at the forum, where she underscored that for Italy Russia is “a key partner not only for economic reasons. Italy’s reasoning is more strategic, ours with Russia is not only an essential economic and energy-based relationship”.

UE-Russia relations to be bolstered during Italy’s Presidency

Rome-Moscow relations could be given an additional boost with the start of the Italian EU presidency. “We intend to use our EU presidency in the second half of 2014 to contribute to a decisive relaunch of Euro-Russian relations, and the premise for doing so is that of verifying Russian positions in detail along with the margins for compromise in regard to numerous open issues”, Minister Bonino explained in an interview for Ria Novosti, during which the minister remarked how “consultations with Moscow are intense and detailed both at political level as well as the level of high ranking officials. We maintain continuous encounter not only on the Syrian crisis, which is the priority at the moment, but also on regarding other areas such as Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East peace process”, a region with regard to which there are many points of convergence between Italy and Russia. “Indeed, as Moscow is, we are convinced that there is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than a political one”, Minister Bonino pointed out, expressing her deep satisfaction with the setting of a date for the Geneva 2 Conference at 22 January next.

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