"The point is that the sanctions cannot be a final objective, they can only be the means. Maintaining dialogue with Russia is essential and also becomes necessary for us, because we have an intensive commercial exchange, and just like other countries protect their interests, we need to protect our economic interests related to national interests, " Conte said at the Limes' Festival in Genoa titled "A Strategy for Italy," and devoted to the role of the country in Europe and the world.
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The prime minister went on to note that Italy has a "traditional" tendency for dialogue with Russia.
"With Moscow we are developing what is our traditional inclination to dialogue … We stay loyal to our principles, our values, follow our strategies, but also try to always have an open dialogue," Conte added.
Relations between Moscow and the West deteriorated in 2014 after Crimea’s reunification with Russia and amid the crisis in eastern Ukraine. The European Union and the United States imposed restrictive measures against Russian individuals, companies and economic sectors. Moscow has responded by imposing restrictions on food imports from the countries that supported the sanctions.