Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s visit to Russia showed the mutual understanding, which was reigning in the relations between Russia’s President Putin and his Italian colleague.
The basic subject of the negotiations, which started on April 2 in the Russian resort city of Sochi, and then were continued in Moscow, was about the economic cooperation between the two countries. The range of the discussed questions was very wide: from cooperation in the field of space exploration, to assembling UAZ vehicles in Italy. The commodity turnover between Russia and Italy gained eight percent last year vs. the year 2000, and made up $9.1 billion, according to the information from the Russian Ministry for Economic Development and Trade. Russian export to Italy gained 1.4% last year vs. 2000 – up to $7.4 billion, and the import from this country increased by 42% - up to $1.7 billion. Italy is the second largest European buyer (after Germany) of the Russian natural gas. The annual gas deliveries make up some 22 billion cubic meters in the sum of $2.2 billion.
Russia basically imports vehicles and equipment, non-ferrous metals production, foodstuffs, consumer goods. The volume of the saved Italian investments in the Russian economy totals $1.8 billion, including the direct investments - $200 million. The major fields to attract the Italian investments to are: food industry, home electric appliances production, leather working, car industry, energy, and trade.
The political issues were also paid attention to, of course. Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi discussed Russia’s relations with the countries of the European Union, the perspectives for Russia’s membership in the WTO, and also the situation in the Middle East in connection with the escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The protocol of cooperation was signed between Russia and Italy according to the results of the negotiations. On the whole, the visit of the Italian premier was rather fruitful. Russia’s relations with the Mediterranean countries are developing steadily. This can be said not only about Italy, but also regarding Spain and Greece. Mass media outlets in those countries do not criticize Russia as much as they do in Germany, or Great Britain; the politicians of the Mediterranean countries try not to criticize the internal affairs of Russia, this is especially actual about Chechnya.
It should be mentioned that Russia does not really pay a lot of attention to the criticism that Silvio Berlusconi is subjected to in Italy. His attempts to change the labor laws of the country raised a series of mass demonstrations at the end of March. Other European politicians have their own attitude to Berlusconi as well. Nevertheless, the Russian administration stakes on the cooperation with the government of Italy’s incumbent premier, and this cooperation is of the mutually beneficial and longstanding character.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov