“Italy believes that the inter-parliamentary dialogue is fundamental for solving the problems we face. Therefore, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, which is part of the Council of Europe, advocates lifting of anti-Russian sanctions and participation of the Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,” Roberto Fico, the president of the Italian parliament’s lower house, said on Tuesday in his speech at the Russian State Duma’s plenary session.
The relations between Russia and the Council of Europe, particularly the Parliamentary Assembly, worsened in April 2014 after Moscow was stripped of its voting rights in the assembly over the military conflict in Ukraine. Russia responded by suspending part of its annual 33 million euro ($37 million) contribution to the Strasbourg-based organisation.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini previously told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at their meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference about the importance of continuing Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe.
Relations between Russia and Italy
“If we look at our relations today, they are developing in many different directions. Russia is known as Italy’s key partner in terms of the energy cooperation, while Italy is for Russia a key country in terms of manufacturing industry,” Roberto Fico added during his speech in front of Russian members of the Parliament.
“Europe unites a large number of countries, but Russia has always had special relations with Italy, and our task is to do everything to develop these relations so that we preserve what our predecessors gave us,” Chairman of State Duma Viacheslav Volodin said to his Italian counterpart.
The Chairman of the State Duma also stressed that 500 Italian companies work in Russia, and the President of the Russian Federation and the Italian Prime Minister are doing a lot to develop cooperation in the business sphere.
Italian government has been the first EU member state to ask the lifting of the sanctions against Russia. “Sanctions, for their own sake, only damage our companies, which we intend to protect, as well as Russia’s civil society,” Italian PM Conte said in October 2018. His comments came after Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini had described the EU sanctions as a “social, cultural and economic absurdity”.
Cover pic: President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of Italy Roberto Fico – @State Duma