14:23 GMT06 May 2021
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    ROME (Sputnik) - Italy believes that European leaders should engage in constructive political discussions before "automatically" extending sanctions on Russia, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday.

    Speaking before the Chamber of Deputies ahead of the European Council meeting on Friday, Conte said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were expected to deliver a message on the status of the implementation of the Minsk agreements in eastern Ukraine's conflict-torn region of Donbass.

    "Italy has always stressed the need for political discussion between leaders before proceeding with a six-month extension of sectoral economic sanctions against Russia that expire on 31 July, while avoiding automatic actions. For Italy, cooperation with our European partners remains a priority promoting the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, which is the goal of the sanctions instrument", Conte noted.

    Italy traditionally sees the sanctions on Russia as a way of resolving the Ukrainian crisis, with its government reiterating Rome’s assurances that penalising Moscow is not an end in itself.

    Italian premier Giuseppe Conte gives a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome Thursday evening, Aug. 8, 2019. Italy faced a government crisis Thursday as Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League party called for a new election, saying his party's coalition with the populist 5-Star Movement had collapsed over policy differences.
    © AP Photo / Alberto Pellaschiar
    Italian premier Giuseppe Conte gives a press conference at Chigi Palace in Rome Thursday evening, Aug. 8, 2019.

    Conte has previously argued that scrapping sanctions unconditionally in their entirety was not something that Italy was after as he emphasised the need to uphold European solidarity.

    The EU slapped Russia with economic restrictions in 2014 over the Ukrainian civil war, despite Russia's denial of having a role in it. Europe has made sanctions relief conditional on the implementation of the Minsk accords and has since been prolonging the restrictive measures every six months.

    Moscow has slammed the move, saying that it is not a party to the Donbass conflict, but a guarantor nation like France and Germany, and has retaliated by imposing a food embargo on EU countries.

    Russian sanctions, sanctions, EU sanctions, Giuseppe Conte, Russia, Italy
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