On Saturday, Russia opened its Consulate General in Palermo, the capital city of Sicily. The opening ceremony was attended by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, currently in Italy on a three-day official visit.
Speaking at the ceremony, he said that, in his opinion, the opening of the Consulate created additional conditions for further expansion of Russian-Italian cooperation and fortified the centuries-old traditions in the relationship between Russia and Sicily. The Russian Prime Minister believes that the opening of the Consulate General does not only contribute to the changing political environment but also displays a new unprecedented level of Russian-Italian relations. The cooperation between our countries in all spheres - political, economic, scientific, technical and cultural - has been successfully expanding of late. This positive trend, Mikhail Kasyanov said, was noted with satisfaction by both parties at the talks he had held with President Silvio Berlusconi the day before.
Mikhail Kasyanov is certain that Russia's constant presence in Sicily will contribute to enhancing Russian-Italian relations and benefit both countries. He emphasized that Italy's southern regions had a "great economic potential" and expressed the hope that joint Russian-Italian projects would be able to realize it.
The Russian Prime Minister pointed out that last year had seen a substantial increase in the number of Russian tourists visiting Sicily. "Our people like Italy, they enjoy tours to the south of Italy, to Sicily," he said. "We hope this window to the Mediterranean will be wide open to Russian tourists," Mikhail Kasyanov noted.
The Russian Consulate General has been set up in an apartment of a residential building in downtown Palermo.