Frattini, who currently serves as the President of the Italian Society for International Organizations, noted that he would "very much like to see" the Forum to be used as an opportunity for dialogue between Russia and the West.
The official noted that, for his part, he will use his speech to "point out that in the age of economic globalization, in the age of all sorts of challenges and risks, it is impossible to imagine a return to the strategy of the economic blockade, just as it impossible to imagine Russia's isolation. I believe that we cannot afford to lose Russia as a strategic partner. After all, the world economy requires cooperation, openness and accessibility between partner nations, and the development of trade relations. The global economy and political cooperation are closely linked to one another."
In Frattini's view, "sanctions will not be able to dispel concerns held by the European Union's eastern members, including Poland and the Baltic states." Instead, along with a reconsideration of sanctions policy, "it would be worth beginning the development of a new agreement on association and agreement between Europe and Russia, which had been postponed. Such an agreement already exists, but has lost its value and should be replaced. Negotiations on the creation of a new agreement between Europe and Moscow have been suspended. The Forum is a good opportunity for their resumption."
The politician noted that even though the parties involved may have divergent interests and views, the negotiations themselves would send a positive signal. "Naturally, in such negotiations, each party will defend its own interests. But it would be a signal that we want to turn to an atmosphere of cooperation, instead of one of confrontation."
Frattini noted that agreement depends first and foremost on adherence to the Minsk Agreement. "From the Russian side, we expect that the Minsk Agreement on the future of the eastern regions of Ukraine will be fully respected, just as they should be respected by the Ukrainian side. When there is an agreement, it must be complied with by both sides. Unfortunately, the actions taken by Kiev which have resulted in numerous casualties among the civilian population in the eastern regions of the country have not yet seen a proper investigation. All of these issues should be dealt with together."
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum opened on Thursday and is set to run until Saturday. The annual event has taken place since 1997, and is positioned as a unique growth and stability network for emerging markets and growth economies, with discussions, forums and round tables on issues of economic and business importance. Last year, over 4,700 participants from 73 countries attended the Forum.