I feel safe in Moscow
“It’s absurd to think that someone is a criminal just because they work with Russia,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Italy Matteo Salvini at the Confindustria Russia meeting.
At the annual Confindustria Russia (Association of Italian Manufacturers) meeting, a lot of words were exchanged about the love between the two countries. Every single speaker brought it up, because love and spiritual closeness is at the very foundation of not just relationships between people, but also Russian-Italian trade and economic relations. “Italy has never turned its back on Russia, even during the worst times,” said the Ambassador of Italy to Russia Pasquale Terracciano, who spoke first. Although these are also challenging times, due to the economic sanctions that were imposed on Russia in 2014, Italian business continues to be interested in Russia. There are currently 500 Italian companies operating in the Russian Federation, representing big business and SMEs. According to the ambassador, the worst is behind us, but a lot of work still needs to be done to completely overcome the consequences of the crisis.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko was also optimistic. He said that relations between Russia and Italy are “friendly and trusting by nature” and that they’re developing “well, in a positive direction.” “We’re not holding negotiations about lifting the economic sanctions, since we didn’t introduce them,” he said about the sanctions, “But we hope that common sense will prevail in the West.” The Deputy Minister spoke highly of the Italians, saying that they have always been known not just for their love of beauty, but also their entrepreneurial intuition, which should help the Italians today as well.
The world-famous Italian alpinist Simone Moro spoke about businessmen as explorers during his speech at the meeting. He had climbed many mountains together with Russian colleagues. According to him, Italian entrepreneurs who want to do business in Russia today must be guided by the spirit of explorers, who know neither fear nor doubt.
Entrepreneurs really did have to put fears and doubts aside. “We’re giving up our share on the Russian market,” confessed Ernesto Ferlenghi, President of Confindustria Russia. He pointed out that Italian business is losing 12 million euros a day because of the sanctions. But business, just like nature, doesn’t tolerate emptiness. The positions lost by Italians in Russia are being filled by the Chinese, the French, Germans… This trend must be reversed. At the very least, Russia and italy have the most important thing – the desire of both sides to cooperate. Ernesto Ferlenghi reminded the audience about the manufacturing localization model that Italy is trying to promote: “We want to manufacture different kinds of products with you in Russia and export it to Europe, along with other locations in the world.”
The highlight of the Confindustria Russia meeting was a speech by the Guest of Honor Matteo Salvini, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of Italy. He called the situation that has unfolded with Russia “absurd,” saying that it’s “absurd when some people in Europe think that you’re a criminal if you work with Russia.” He also said that the accusations that he’s “paid money” every time he comes to Russia are absurd as well. “I reject this lie. I come here because there is a historical and cultural closeness between our people,” he said, “I come to Moscow because I feel like I’m home here. I don’t feel at home in some EU countries. But in Moscow I feel safe, like I do at home.” The Deputy Prime Minister also said that he will do everything in his power to ensure that Europe reconsiders its stance on the sanctions against Russia. Matteo Salvini’s speech was interrupted by bouts of energetic applause. it’s no wonder that a long line of people who wanted to take a picture with the Italian politician formed at the end of the meeting.