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    Italy is Part of NATO, But Russia is Not an Enemy - Italian MP

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    Denis Bolotsky
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    Italy’s Lega party took a tough stance on EU’s assessment of the country’s 2019 budget, and on international issues, such as dialogue with Russia. Sputnik sat down with Lega’s MP in the Chamber of Deputies Matteo Bianchi, who manages EU and NATO relations, to discuss these issues.

    Lega (formerly known as the Northern League), is a regionalist party, which is becoming increasingly popular in Italy, with one of its top members Matteo Salvini currently serving as the country's Deputy Prime Minister.

    Sputnik: You just came back from a big NATO meeting in Canada. Your party is calling for dialogue with Russia. Is it hard to explain these positions to Italy's partners in NATO, and to build bridges between Russia, the EU and the US?

    Matteo Bianchi: The Italian government says that Italy is an Atlantist[ic] country. We are inside NATO's system of defense, and this is a clear position. But, the Italian government — especially our party, says that we have to make better relationships with Russia, because for us Russia is not an enemy.

    READ MORE: Rome Will Not Surrender to Brussels' Dictate in Budget Row — Lega Party

    We have to cooperate, especially in defending our countries from Islamic terrorism. So, this is the main issue, this is the way for us to build a bridge together against Islamic terrorism and problems in Southern part of Europe — problems like migration.

    Sputnik: Your party along with your allies from the Five Star Movement, also see economy as part of this bridge-building process. What is your stance on the EU's sanctions against Russia?

    Matteo Bianchi: We have to go on, to go over this topic. And we have a good opportunity in Italy to promote better relations between the US and Russia, because we have good relationship with Washington, especially now, with Trump as President.

    And Italy, — in the past, and today, has always had good relationship with Russia, because we cooperate in commerce, with Italian products. So, Italy now is in a good position to promote this topic, to go over, to go on from the sanctions.

    Sputnik: Your party has a tough stance on EU's assessment of Italy's 2019 budget. What do you think about the way that Brussels politicians are treating your country at the moment?

    Matteo Bianchi: We worry about politics in Europe because the big alliance of the popular and socialist parties does not act in the interests of the people in our countries, but only for the sake of finances.

    In our party, we say that the alliance between France and Germany doesn't want a better life for all people in Europe. We don't believe in the austerity politics that Germany wants for all countries. We know the history in Greece.

    Now our government and our party promote a balance for our state with low taxes and more money for investments, and especially to help the poor people [solve] social problems.

    This is the kind of balance that we want to promote for next year, and the European Commission says that "Italy has debt to us". But that's not a problem of today, because the debt of Italy is a problem from the past. So, the question of today is why the European Commission didn't promote sanctions against Italy in the past, and started doing it just today. For us it's a political problem.

    Sputnik: With all these problems in mind, do you feel that the EU in its current form needs to be reformed in some way?

    Matteo Bianchi: In May next year, during the European election we would like to go on, to go over from this European Union. We would like to really integrate the people.

    READ MORE: A Lot of Italy's Bad Debt Would Pile Onto Northern European Tax Payers — Analyst

    We want a Europe of the countries, and of the people, while in Brussels they debate and discuss just a few topics, and all other topics can be discussed in autonomies, in member states and in regions of Europe. We believe in this Europe, in Europe of the regions, in Europe of states, and in Europe of the people.

    Sputnik: Your party also considers illegal and economic migration to be serious problems. Do you see any solutions to either one of them?

    Matteo Bianchi: Several months ago we saw that the EU borders and the border of Italy was under pressure. And we debated about the role of NGOs, and about the governmental policies of the EU.

    With our new government, and especially with Minister Salvini, we stopped the problem of NGOs. We stopped the arrivals from the Mediterranean Sea, and we say that Italy is very friendly towards people who escaped from the war.

    And we want to find a country for their asylum. But we don't want "economy migrants" in Europe. We can't accept all people who arrive from Africa because Europe can't support this.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    Islamic terrorism, migration, Migrant Crisis, Lega Party, European Commission, US, Italy, Russia
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