Italy blocked the automatic EU sanctions extension against Russia. Why has namely Italy taken this initiative? Who can't Italy share Libya with? And what does Renzi expect to obtain instead? - Pravda.Ru conducted an interview with Fabrizio Bertot, a well-known Italian politician, former Member of the European Parliament.
- Why has namely Italy gone the length of this initiative?
- We have to consider that Italy did not block the sanctions, but just the automatic renovation of them. It means that our government is ready to talk about it and not to do it in an automatic way. Well, what does it mean? As for me, I'm happy about it, but I think that our government just wanted to demonstrate a specific Italian position inside the EU. Nothing more. There are a lot of countries, who are against this kind of sanctions, this is true. But, sadly, this opposition does not belong to our PM and his party.
- Is it the case of business losses? The Italian company Saipem, which should have participated in the South Stream project, lost about €920 million.
- Yes, sanctions are a big problem for our export. First of all, failure of the South Stream project is the worst consequence, because South Stream would be an important solution for our energetic policy. But the sanctions keep to create problems for our export. We know that 'made in Italy' has really been presented in the Russian market. So, it's a big problem for our export now. And I think that the biggest problem is the consequences of this blockage. I know that Russia is preparing a new kind of production as a substitution for the Italian products. And that can transform our damage into a permanent damage for us. As if you start to make your own cheese, you will never buy Parmesan or Mozzarella even if the market is open. I think that this kind of sanctions can be an opportunity for the Russian economy, because you can create new production and this new production can definitely substitute the Italian products. This is the worst part of the sanctions. So, 9 billion is just the first step of the problem.
- And is there a matter of diplomacy, friendship of Putin and Berlusconi?
- We know that there is good friendship between Putin and Berlusconi. And I am sure that with Berlusconi being the PM, things could have been completely different. Sadly, our PM is not at the same relations as Berlusconi is. And at the moment Berlusconi's party, which is my party, is in the minority and is not to consider the manoeuvre of our government. So, I think that this friendship does not have any kind of relation with the decision to block the sanctions. I think that this decision belong to a completely different strategy of our PM.
- Our Foreign Minister Lavrov is on a state visit to Italy today. He is to discuss joint struggle in Libya. Libya was an Italian colony, and Italy has major interests there. May Russia have promised any help in Libya?
- Yes, in Libya we had good relations with Gaddafi, especially when Berlusconi was our PM. At the moment, after the Arab Spring, a lot of problems started there. Migrants come from Libya. And any interests of the Italian companies in Libya have to be shared with the French and American companies. So, our reserves in Libya are really reduced. I think that a role of Russia with Italy would be a good idea. But we have to consider that the Italian position now is not considered inside the EU and the UN. I remember that a few months ago our PM asked for an Italian role in Libya at the UN Assembly, and the day after the UN President decided to nominate a German guy to have this responsibility of the UN in Libya. So it means that we are not considered and the help of Russia can be an important thing. But the problem is that our PM is probably thinking something like, 'well, I start blocking the sanctions in order to obtain something from the EU and from you', nothing more. I do not think that we consider it like something of better relations with the Russian elite. I would hope it, but, sadly, this is not the way. They are just playing something to increase our role, which is completely upset at the moment.
- What will this discussion within the EU end up with?
- We know that the US asked the EU to put sanctions in automatic way. Now, we are to discus it. But we don't know what Obama and Renzi talked about the day they met at the Assembly. I am not very positive at the moment. Something is probably connected with the role of our PM inside the EU Socialist party. You know that at the moment Hollande is not so popular in France and there is a competition between him and Matteo Renzi for a sort of premiership inside the European Socialist party. Obama can probably help our PM to get this kind of role inside the party. That is only a problem of rule inside the Socialist party. As we all know that Angela Merkel is a chief inside the Popular party, so there are no role for Italy. The only role can be in the Socialist party, and Renzi may be negotiating something.
- Can't it be a general opinion of the EU, or it's a demarche? Did Renzi turn against Berlin?
- I think that at the moment Angela Merkel is the best waitress for the US interests inside the EU. While the US interests are strictly connected with the German interests. But these are not the interests of the single countries inside the EU. So, the Mediterranean countries have to think about the consequences of this kind of relations. Current combination between Germany and France represents a serious danger for the single economies of the single EU states. We all remember that the EU is not a unitarian or confederative state. It is a mix, something between an association of people and a sort of commercial union between single states. No more. There is not any single economic, foreign policy, no army. It means that we are not in a condition to obtain any kind of profit.
- Lavrov claimed that, 'we know that the Americans are currently going about the European capitals and demand the sanctions to be extended with no discussions, as the European Council will have a meeting in some days'. It's rather strange that the discussion with Italy was initiated just after that. There should have been some talks on the sidelines. Which agreements have Russia and Italy reached?
- I think that the relation between Italy and the Russian Federation can be better without the EU. The Russian market is an important market for our export and especially for luxury products and we have to consider that we have to import gas and oil from Russia too. So, I think that we can have strictly important and good relations from a commercial, cultural, and political point of view. Sadly, the European institutions create only problems between all this kind of relations. So, we have to think, to discuss the real role of the European institution.
Interview conducted by Galina Tychinskaya