Since 2008, the second lines of commercial and political relations between Russia and Italymeet every year in Verona. Top executives and deputy ministers, CEOs and ambassadors. In the last two years, however, the Forum has become something else. A kind of bilateral Bilderberg group.
Do not underestimate the Eurasian Forum. Although heads of state or prime ministers do not take part, but “only” a few ministers and a bunch of deputies, the annual meeting in Verona moves key figures of Russian-Italian relations. In addition to an economic volume – in terms of represented companies –of several billion euro.
Let’s not be misunderstanding. The forum is a healthy thing. It is good for the Italian companies, it is good for the economy and trade exchange between Italy and Russia.
In the last two years, however, the shadow ofwar in Ukraine has lengthened over the heads of CEOs and politicians (especially Italian ones). Not because the participants in the forum take care of the fate of Ukraine or the Ukrainians, but because the sanctions imposed by the European Union after Russian annexation of Crimea and support to separatists put the stick in the wheels of the train of commercial relations between the two countries.
Now, the Eurasian Forum is more like a sort of Bilderberg Group, a club of powerful businessmen and politicians who have not only the economy on their agenda.
Who is who
A number of politicians took part this year too. LikeMaria Elena Boschi, Minister for Constitutional reforms and relations with Parliament, Federica Guidi, Minister of Economic Development; Sandro Gozi, Deputy Prime Minister andAlexey Meshkov, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister. But there were also the usual regulars such as Romano Prodi, former President of the EU Commission and Igor Sechin, President and CEO of Rosneft, the Russian oil giant, as well as Putin’sfriend and adviser. The latter is on the list of individual sanctions signed by President Obama, but not on that of the European Union. For, otherwise, he could not even attend. And who knows, maybe that’s due to the individual sanctions if there were so many deputies.
Sanctions were always at the center of the addresses, both of managers and politicians. Who made it clear that, if it depended on Italy, there would not be even a shadow of them.
Minister Guidi,said that “Italy has the interest that this situation consistent of sanctions would be removed as soon as possible.” The reason issaid a little later. “The Russian market is very important for our industrial supply chain.”
“We welcomed the recent statement of Renzi, saying that is a mistake to think of building a European Union without Russia”, Meshkovechoed.
Minister Boschibroadened the topic. “At a time when Europe is trying to raise walls and locking itself within its borders,” she said, “we try to play a role of dialogue and discussionin Eurasian area”. Mixing a bit apples with pears. And forgetting that the EU has been pursuing for years a program of Eastern Partnership that the Russians do not like at all.
The concept was explained later by Prodi. “Ukraine must be a bridge and not the battlefield.” If we did not know what he thinksof sanctions, we might think that he was blaming the Russians.
Sechineventually dropped the wad of cash on the table, “We plan investments in the world for 22 to 23 billion euro per year in 2017-2018,” and all magically forgot the occupation of Crimea, the fuel on the fire in Donbass and the 298 dead in the downing of the flight MH17.
No coincidence Antonio Fallico – the organizer of the Forum, President of Banca Intesa Russia, often referred asthe most powerful Italian in Moscow – said the Forum takes place “in a climate certainly more positive than last year.” Moreover, Italy is the only European country that is working to lift the sanctions. Just look at the actions of France and Germany in turn Minsk peace agreements into settlement of the situation in Russia’s favor.
Sanctions on Russia, however, should be removed only if and when Moscow will repair the crimes committed in Ukraine. And notfor the rustle of Sechin’szillions.
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