Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Italy

On December 10-11, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be on a working visit in the Italian Republic. While in Rome, he will meet with Sergio Mattarella, the President of Italy, and will hold extensive talks with Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Italy is among Russia’s most important European partners. Relations with this country rest on a solid foundation and tradition of mutual respect and friendship. 

As of late, bilateral ties have slowed as a result of Western policies to pressure Russia in connection with the Ukrainian crisis. In the wake of the joint EU-NATO policy line, the Italian leaders supported the anti-Russia sanctions, by suspending or reducing bilateral cooperation in some areas. At the same time, Italy shows interest in continued cooperation with Russia on international issues and is striving to preserve the positive potential of Russian-Italian relations that has grown over many years and to maintain a traditionally close and confidential top-level dialogue. This was confirmed during the November 16, 2015 conversation between President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Antalya. The main goal of this visit is to continue a substantive discussion of current international political and security issues with our Italian partners and to map out the further development of bilateral cooperation, while also taking into consideration the outcome of  the four previous meetings between Russian and Italian foreign ministers this year, that last of which was held on the sidelines of the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Belgrade, Serbia on December 3. The ministers will analyse current foreign policy issues, such as the fight against ISIS and the situation in Syria, Libya and Ukraine. The Russian side will focus on the need to pool international efforts to fight the global threat of terrorism in accordance with President Vladimir Putin’s proposal for a broad counterterrorist front and related cooperation based on the principles and norms of international law and the UN Charter and without politicisation and double standards. Discussions of a settlement in Syria will include opportunities for working within the framework of the International Syria Support Group, where Russia and Italy are represented. The Libyan issue will be discussed from the viewpoint of fighting the spread of ISIS and promoting political stability in Libya. When discussing the situation in Ukraine, the focus will be on the need for the gradual and full implementation of the Minsk Agreements that were signed on February 12, 2015. The sides will also talk about Russian-Italian political, economic and cultural ties, relations between the two countries’ civil societies, and the current state and the possibility of further development of relations between their foreign ministries and parliaments, as well as the expansion of the legal framework for bilateral relations. Sergey Lavrov and Paolo Gentiloni will also sign a programme of Russian-Italian cultural and educational cooperation for 2016-2018. Following the ratification of a Russian-Italian intergovernmental agreement on the mutual recognition of university diplomas issued by the Italian Republic and the Russian Federation, which was signed in December 2009, new opportunities for university student exchanges are opening up. The agenda also includes a review of preparations for the St Petersburg Fourth International Cultural Forum scheduled for December 13−16. “Days of Italy” will be held in the Hermitage as part of this forum, as well as a roundtable discussion with the ministers of culture of the two countries. In light of the mutual concerns caused by the negative trends in bilateral trade, which has fallen by over 35 percent since early 2015, the sides plan to discuss measures to overcome this decline, which may include stepping up the ongoing work of the Russian-Italian Council on Economic, Industrial, Currency and Financial Cooperation. The Russian party will focus on including its Italian partners in its import substitution programme and expanding local manufacturing in Russia, with an emphasis on interaction between small and medium-sized businesses. On December 11, at the invitation of President Paolo Gentiloni and the President of the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), Giancarlo Aragona, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will speak at a conference entitled  “The Mediterranean: Roman dialogue.” The ISPI is sponsored by the Italian Foreign Ministry and is one of Italy’s leading research and political centres. Conference participants will exchange views on world politics in the Mediterranean region, and growing instability as a source of a greater terrorist threat in Europe. (Source MFA Russia)

Category: Diplotimes