Hans-Jörg Jenewein, a member of the Federal Council of Austria, the upper chamber of the Austrian Parliament: “I would like to help improve relations between Russia and European countries. I plan to speak at the Forum on the subject, among other things, of sanctions imposed on Russia and Russia’s countermeasures.
“Austria’s economy suffers from the sanctions. The agricultural sector, in particular, experiences a major negative effect. The sanctions are detrimental; they must be lifted; Austrians are not interested in sanctions. That was a purely political decision.
“I have already studied the circumstances of the 2014 Crimean referendum, and now I would like to collect information in Crimea itself. Mass media cannot always be trusted on such matters: they are politically engaged and might provide a distorted picture.
“I believe tourism is one of the major fortes of Russia’s economy. Crimea is known for its gorgeous landscapes and pleasant climate. I see a key opportunity for development here.
“Personally, I have not encountered resistance or threats due to my plans for visiting Crimea. A colleague of mine received a protest from the Ukrainian ambassador. As a member of Parliament, I am not particularly impressed with these measures.”
A member of the National Council of Austria (the lower chamber of the Austrian Parliament):
“What is important for me is establishing new business contacts at the Forum. I am very much looking forward to meeting interesting persons from the business community and the political circles.
“It is in Austria’s interests to develop various forms of interaction with Russia and Crimea, including partnership agreements between cities and regions. We are moving into the future together, and we should support each other on the way.
Today, it is important to create conditions for effective economic and political development in Crimea. From day one, we have been criticizing the sanctions the European Union imposed on Russia. These are silly measures that were not necessary then and are not necessary now. They destroy opportunities for dialog and conditions for economic development.
The last decades had been a period of fruitful cooperation for Russia and Austria. This progressive development was suddenly cut off by the sanctions. I believe we should start again, bring the cooperation back to the previous level. Today, Europe’s interest in partnership with Russia is on the rise again. Europe again begins to perceive Russia as a serious partner. Austria, being a neutral country, should be at the forefront of the process.”
A member of the European Parliament (Romania):
“I have come to Crimea to meet people and to see the situation on the ground for myself. Even if I do not speak at the Forum, I want to establish contacts that, I hope, will be useful for many Romanian citizens and organizations interested in the situation in Crimea.
The Black Sea can and should be a region of friendship and partnership. Due to their proximity and mutual complementarity, Romania and Crimea have great prospects for cooperation primarily in agriculture, tourism, services, industry, high-tech, and scientific research.
I believe that intensive economic cooperation leads to mutual understanding between partners and irons out political wrinkles.
According to the information I have, the citizens of Crimea voted democratically to accede to Russia. As an outside observer, I do not believe that I have the right either to ratify the referendum or, on the contrary, to cast its results into doubt. I think that no politician and no political institution should pretend that they have such a right. If there are problems and misunderstandings, they should be resolved between Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea. All the others could only act as observers.”
Senator, Italy, Northern League party
“My principal goal is to understand and think through the situation in Crimea, to gain information about the region’s economic and social life. Everything that could influence the economy of Venice and Italy in general is of interest for me.
The sanctions contradict Europe’s domestic interests. This is a blow to our pocket, particularly to the pocket of those who suffered from a drop in exports to Russia. Since the sanctions were imposed, Italy lost between 3.6 and 4 billion euros! This effect can be felt still. And my region, Veneto, is among those Italian regions which bore the brunt of these decisions. We hope that Rome will pull itself together and revise its stance on relations with Russia.
A delegation of entrepreneurs from Veneto has arrived in Crimea. This fact clearly demonstrates that our companies want to break through the blockade and reinstate their presence on the Russian market. Of course, it would be better for them to work in a relaxed atmosphere and not in the negative atmosphere of the sanctions. Do you know how many friends you have in Italy? Many! Everybody is ready to work with you.”
Senator, Italy, Forza Italia party:
“I hope my presence at the Forum will become a powerful signal marking the improving relations between our countries united by close historical ties. I hope to find here opportunities for cooperation and to bring the information on Crimean projects and initiatives to Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of our party, and to the Italian government.
“History teaches us that sanctions always have a negative impact both on markets and economic cooperation and on the sociopolitical relations between states. This negative effect is particularly obvious if sanctions are imposed on a region that is close both culturally and historically, and ties that connect Russia and Italy are many. This is why no one should expect any positive effect from the sanctions; this is not the road to success. It would have been better to choose the path of communication, negotiations, and a joint search for solutions. I think the Italian government should revise its policies, restore the pre-sanctions cooperation with Russia, and increase our exports into Russia.
I think that a mass arrival of EU businesses into Crimea could happen earlier than we expect. Thus far, Crimea should create favorable conditions for the work of foreign investors: reduce the level of bureaucracy, simplify export and import procedures for food products, attract tourists to the Crimean beaches and cities.”
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