At the news conference in Rome, Angelino Alfano even calls his Russian counterpart “Dear Sergei.” Italy’s 37th Foreign Minister says that just like his predecessors, he wants to have good relations with Russia.
According to Alfano, who invited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Rome’s scenic Villa Madama for negotiations, even during the Cold War era Italy and the USSR cooperated economically – trading in natural resources and machinery, and politically — trying to listen to each other even when they disagreed on certain issues.
Besides the Italian officials, Lavrov also met with his counterparts from Egypt, Qatar and other nations on the sidelines of the annual “Mediterranean Dialogues” conference organized by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies and promoted by the country’s foreign ministry.
The event gathered politicians, researchers and think tank representatives to discuss pressing issues, such as dealing with illegal migration, preventing violent extremism and defining a strategy to stabilize the Mediterranean region.
Over the past few years Italy has had its share of these problems. Being a transit country between Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, it experienced several waves of illegal migration from Libya and other war-torn countries.
Italy is currently planning to introduce and enforce stricter immigration rules, which will allow law enforcement agencies to send home as many “illegals” as possible.
Sergei Lavrov says that the turmoil in the region is caused largely by the West’s regime change tactics. According to Russia’s top diplomat, now it’s time to learn the lessons of Libya and Iraq, and to start gathering the stones.
“Ruining countries for the sake of a very doubtful process – imposing somebody’s values, somebody’s way of life on others with a different culture, with different traditions – I believe it’s very reckless. And we don’t want another region to become a shop where china has been broken all over the place.”
Lavrov: we have to overcome results of reckless invasions into Iraq, Lybia. We need much more humanitarian assistance on the ground, think about economic restoration of war-torn countries. pic.twitter.com/NL5tMGihDk— Denis Bolotsky (@BolotskySputnik) 1 декабря 2017 г.
When asked about Russia’s vision of the Middle East and the region’s future, Lavrov said that it’s very important for the region’s many ethnic and religious groups to reach a consensus.
Lavrov on Russia's vision of the Middle East: Peace, stability, openness to outside world, ethnic groups living together — Christians for example, and others, being able choose the way they want to live.— Denis Bolotsky (@BolotskySputnik) 1 декабря 2017 г.
When talking about Syria, Lavrov said that Russia supports the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and calls for all the warring factions to establish a dialogue. He also added that now there are signs that Moscow and Washington will work closer together when it comes to fighting terrorism in the region.
When the Americans under the Obama administration failed to deliver on the separation of “patriotic opposition” from al-Nusra Front, we understood that the administration was no longer credible on the Syria situation… It is not this way now, and I hope that our regular contacts with the American military will be used to promote a common understanding of what is the right counterterrorism strategy in Syria.
US officials are also taking part in the 2017 Mediterranean Dialogues. During Saturday’s plenary session they were discussing Middle East policy, as it’s viewed from Washington.
A total of 45 heads of state, ministers and high-level international leaders were invited to MED-2017. According to the organizers, the event is being attended by 800 delegates from 56 countries.