Andrea Gianotti: Italy loves Russia while looking back to the EU

30 March 2016

The expert told Rosbalt why actions by the Russian government on a foreign policy arena have not changed attitude of Italians towards Russia


— Not that long ago heads of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Hungary spoke against extension of anti-Russian sanctions. How one should evaluate that statement?


— There is nothing unusual in that. Russia is one of the key partners for Italy. It is true not only from an economic, but also from a political point of view. The Italian government believes that without Russia majority of today’s problems cannot be solved. That opinion is also shared by governments of such countries as Hungary, Cyprus and Austria. However, being a member of the European Union, Italy has to maneuver between different force poles.


— Can one count on the fact that Italians will fight to lift the sanctions?

— According to rules of the EU, in order to make a decision, it is necessary to achieve unanimity. Power of veto is a very tough demonstration of one’s position, and Italy is obviously not ready to use it neither for political or economic reasons. And the situation inside the country is far from being simple. We should preserve good neighbor relations with the European partners. And since Russia is an extremely touchy topic for many EU members, Italy has to build its position considering that fact.


— Italy is far from being the biggest economic partner of Russia in Europe. However, it is the one, even though with certain limitations, which can be considered as the most consistent “advocate” of Moscow. What is the reason for that?


— I think that the reason is not just in economy. Anthropological reasons play a big role here. Our nations have always been closely cooperating. Perhaps, in particular, with Italians Russians developed the closest relations. First of all, this refers to cultural ties, but they are very important.

A full text of the interview in Russian can be found here