A: Currently, Italy is Russia's leading European partner. Never before have the Russian-Italian relations been so close, dynamic and fruitful. Franco Frattini's upcoming visit to Russia is a continuation of the intensive and rich bilateral political dialogue aimed at effective cooperation between our countries.
Q: What are the most important topics to be discussed?
A: The consideration of bilateral issues will focus on practical implementation of the agreements reached at the top level during Russian President Vladimir Putin's state visit to Italy November 4-7, 2003. At issue in particular is a new impulse to cooperation within the Global Partnership Against the Proliferation of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, in the cultural and educational areas, communications and information technologies, in facilitating the visa issuing process to Russian and Italian citizens, and in the fight against terrorism and crime.
There are plans to coordinate our views on other pressing international issues, including European security, the situations in Iraq, the Balkans, the Korean peninsula and Afghanistan.
The exchange of opinions between the two countries on international issues has recently become highly trusting. The Russian-Italian political dialogue is becoming an increasingly important factor of European and world policy.
Q: What are the Russian-Italian trade and economic relations like now?
A: This year, the work to further expand our economic cooperation with Italy will be continued. In terms of trade turnover, Italy today ranks second among Russia's West European partners. Now promising joint projects, including projects in the energy and hi-tech sectors and in small and medium-sized business, are on the agenda.
In this respect, the sides suggest that Russian-Italian interaction in developing cooperation between Russia and the European Union be discussed with due account for the results achieved during Italy's presidency in the European Union in the latter half of 2003.