• 18 May 2017
  • Russia is a very important player, PM Gentiloni says after meeting with President Putin

  • Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will tell the leaders of the seven largest economies in the world that Russia is a very important international player. Asked by a Russian reporter what message would he bring to the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, next week, Gentiloni said: “The message I will bring is very simple, Russia is a very important player on the international scene.”

    Gentiloni, who met with Putin yesterday, said Moscow is a primary player “in the Mediterranean, which for Italy has a specific importance,” and said that Russia’s opinion must be part of the discussion. “We know what things unite us and what separate us, but we have the same common interest in international stability, fight against terrorism and a solution to crises like in Libya and Syria, let alone the risks in the Korean peninsula,” Gentiloni said. Italy is holding the rotating presidency of the G7.

    Asked about the possible readmission of Moscow to the Group of Seven, Gentiloni said the issue is not whether the group will return to be a G8 with Russia, but working with Russia to find a common ground in the management of international crises.

    Gentiloni also said that he is against the automatic renewal of European Union sanctions against Russia, but stressed that Italy will not go against any decision taken by its allies. “No one believes that Italy will dissent on its own from its allies,” the PM said. “But no one thinks that decisions like sanctions can be taken with an automatic pilot without a real debate on the situation,” he added.

    The Italian government will pursue its efforts with the EU and NATO to “underscore that sanctions can’t be renewed automatically,” Gentiloni said. The EU imposed sanctions on Russia in July 2014, and reinforced them in September 2014, because of Russia’s policy of destabilising eastern Ukraine.