Sergey Aksyonov, the Head of the Republic of Crimea, opened the Russia–Italy Business Dialogue session. Italy was represented by politicians, public figures, officials, and heads of municipalities of several Italian regions. Sergey Aksyonov welcomed the Italian delegation that was the largest group of international participant at the YIEF with about 50 members.
“I am glad to see the dynamics that foreign businesspersons and politicians bring to the Republic of Crimea. Today, it was with great pleasure that I met our Italian friends. I am grateful to the members of all foreign delegation for their stance: coming here was not easy for many of them. I understand that there are certain things related to the sanctions regime. Yet there are people who care about the development of their country’s relations with the Russian Federation, people who understand how Crimea’s people really made their historical choice, people who value historical ties between our countries and the prospects of cooperation. Thank you for your trust and steadfastness!” Sergey Aksyonov, the Head of the Republic of Crimea, said in his welcoming speech.
Vladimir Dmitriev, Co-chairman of the Russian–Italian Civil Society Dialogue Forum, Vice President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, moderated the section.
Stefano Valdegamberi, a member of the Regional Council of Veneto, head of the Italian delegation to the YIEF, remarked that the Italian business and political circles were widely represented at the Crimean Forum. Mr. Valdegamberi noted that the Crimean Forum was attended by members of Italy’s two major political parties, the Northern League and Forza Italia, by members of local parliaments from Toscana, Liguria, Veneto, and by a large number of entrepreneurs.
“Our visit to Crimea this year is a message to Europe, a certain challenge. This year, we have a large delegation. We want to explain to the Italian government that politics creates barriers and divisions, and we stand for politics that could bring peoples together, including the people of Russia, we stand for politics that could form a gigantic market stretching as far as Vladivostok. This is the common goal we posit for ourselves,” Stefano Valdegamberi noted in this speech.
The isolationist policies toward Russia that Europe had chosen under the US pressure brought Italy great losses, Roberto Ciambetti, President of the Regional Council of Veneto, said in this speech at the session.
“No one at all needs the sanctions. At year-end 2015, up to 50,000 jobs were lost in the agro-industrial complex and in engineering (in Italy). In 2016, due to the devaluation of the euro, the economy rallied a bit. The growth rate was 3–4% for the year, due, among other things, to the renewed cooperation with individual entrepreneurs from Russia. It demonstrates that in the global economy, isolationist policies against such as large country as Russia could only produce negative results,” Mr. Ciambetti said.
According to him, sanctions were very detrimental to Italy: enterprises lost billions of euros, and the country lost thousands of jobs.
“As the President of a regional parliament, I would like to confirm the importance of cooperation with Russia and with your region, your Republic of Crimea. We see that the return (of Crimea – editor’s note) into Russia is the result of the wishes and will of the Crimean people. I believe that we should do everything at the level of Europe to put an end to sanctions,” said the President of the Regional Council of Veneto in conclusion.
Sergio Divina, a Senator of the 17th Senate of the Republic of Italy representing the Northern League party, spoke about the need to exclude double standards from today’s global reality.
“All of Europe submitted to the decisions made across the ocean. Sanctions against Russia will cost Italy 3.5–4 billion euros. This is why the Regional Council of Veneto called for the lifting of sanctions. The Northern League Party demands the same. We support you. And we will fight against double standards. It is an impossible situation when Kosovo demands sovereignty and is recognized, and when Crimea holds a referendum with the over 80% voter turnout and with over 90% vote in favor of independence and these results are not recognized!” Senator Sergio Divina said.
Members of Italy’s representative bodies, heads of municipalities of Toscana, Bolzano, and Liguria, who presented economic and cultural potentials of their regions to the Forum’s participants, also spoke at the Forum. The Forum’s Italian guests think that a success in the bilateral relations could be achieved through direct contacts between specific Italian regions and the regions of Russia, in particular, the Republic of Crimea. The Forum’s Italian participants believe that tourism, commerce, and winemaking could become the principal growth drivers in such relations.
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