Leaked Italian manifesto suggest lifting of anti-Russian sanctions
In a leaked manifesto, entitled Government for Change, calls for sanctions against Russia to be scrapped in Italy have been revealed. If this happens, Germany and France, could soon follow suit.
Published: May 17, 2018, 9:05 am
The document also states that the “system of European economic governance – so-called Stability and Growth Pact – based on the dominance of the market and the respect of the stringent economic and social constraints must be re-thought with other European partners”.
Last month, League leader Matteo Salvini described the economic sanctions against Russia as “insanity directed against a friendly and neighbouring market”. Due to anti-Russia sanctions, Italian companies have suffered heavy, multibillion-euro losses.
Salvini and his Five Star Movement (M5S) counterpart, Luigi di Maio, are ready to clinch a deal on the creation of Italy’s coalition government they said this week. The two partners are engaged in talks on forming a government and have completed work on a joint program, Rocco Casalino, an M5S member, said. “In the end there has been a roar of applause, we all embraced each other,” according to Casalino.
During the election campaign the League had promised “the immediate withdrawal of sanctions imposed on Russia” and the rehabilitation of Moscow as a “strategic interlocutor” in crisis areas such as Syria, Libya and Yemen.
The latest round of US restrictions hampering Italian businesses under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was introduced on April 6.
The leaked 39-page document emerged as Italy’s political deadlock seems to be coming to an end.
Stefano Maullu, a representative of Silvio Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia and a member of the European Parliament delegation on EU-Russia relations, told Sputnik News that anti-Russian measures were a mistake.
“This was a mistake, especially if we take into account the long historical relations between our countries,” Maullu said. In the Italian city of Brescia, entrepreneurs recently discussed Italian companies’ prospects for entering the Russian market at a business conference.
“This was an extremely interesting event where businessmen from Brescia, who are in charge of leading Italian companies in the field of metallurgy, manufacturing, etc, could see what opportunities Russia can offer for Italian businesses,” the deputy revealed.
But author Lorenzo Valloreja, said that “the US is very much concerned about the situation around Rome considering the lifting of sanctions against Russia.” In Valloreja’s book Al di la del pregiudizio [Outside prejudice], he suggests that Italy would be the first domino to fall in the EU.
Although possible coalition partners have expressed loyalty to NATO, as a “privileged ally”, they see an “opening to Russia, to be perceived not as a threat, but as an economic and commercial partner”.
“If Italy abolishes [the anti-Russian] sanctions, it will be the first split on the Western front,” Valloreja told Sputnik, followed by “the fall of the whole European house of cards”. If Italy abandons anti-Russian sanctions, Valloreja believes Germany and France, would follow suit.
Valloreja added: “On the one hand, [French President] Emmanuel Macron tries to take control of the European countries and on the other – he wants to restore relations between France and Russia. So if Italy scraps the sanctions, France and Germany will most likely follow suit.”
But the leak already seemed to be taking its toll as markets opened on Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump’s special representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has meanwhile stressed that Italy cannot abolish sanctions against Russia without serious consequences. Valloreja rejected Volker’s threats and said that Volker “should be ashamed of such statements”.
“This is a direct intervention in Rome’s policy. The US, which sees Italy as NATO’s main stronghold in the Mediterranean, is concerned about Rome changing its allies. Fortunately on Monday, a [coalition] government will most likely be formed [in Italy] and its members have always called for the abolition of the anti-Russian sanctions,” he concluded.
Gennaro Sangiuliano, an Italian journalist and deputy director of the country’s most-watched news program, TG1, on state broadcaster RAI, told Sputnik Italia that Italy needed Russia. “Italy is very interested in its relationship with Russia in the geopolitical arena, given the deepest economic crisis it has been in for a decade already.
“Italy is dependent on Russian gas and wants to get back to the Russian market. Rome hopes that it might play a decisive role in restoring ties between Russia and the EU. After the strengthening of the France-Germany axis, Rome does not have enough weight in the EU because it does not have a serious leader,” the journalist explained.
Moreover, he added, Italy needs Russia’s help to solve the Libyan crisis, to stop the uncontrolled stream of refugees into Italy, and stabilize Libya. Sangiuliano said ordinary Italians were not interested in the Ukrainian crisis, the major reason behind the sanctions imposed on Moscow by the US.
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