Talks between Italy and Russia are an opportunity, not a problem. If EU politics has transformed a big opportunity into a big problem, we need to change the politics, Fabrizio Bertot, European Parliament member from Italy, told RT.
RT: How does the Italian business world view Russia imposing sanctions on Europe?
Fabrizio Bertot: Of course Italian business does not like the European sanctions against Russia. We are one of the most important agriculture producers, so our economy can be damaged from the sanctions. We export a lot of cheese, milk, elementary products, and Russia is an important market for our products. We are nearing a year of financial difficulties, and this is the result of a commercial war that is not in the interest of Italy or of the whole EU.
RT: It looks like the decision to sanction Russia was taken without any regard for business. Why is that, in your view?
FB: The sanctions against Russia were taken by the EU against the interests of the member states. We need to consider that the most important part of these sanctions concerns the export of know-how and technology in mechanics, electronics and energy production. We have to consider these kind of sanctions damage our economy, because we cannot allow our companies to export these kinds of technology to Russia. Also, the Russian reaction was immediately against the other kind of exports from the EU. So we started the commercial war that is not in the interest of either Italy or the European Economic Community. We have to start a different dialogue with Russia, and especially Italy, which is an important commercial partner for Russia.
RT: The Western media say the EU is not going to feel the impact of these restrictions. Do you agree?
FB: For the most part the Western media say there will be no impact on the Western economy as a result of the sanctions, but it is not true. We are testing the consequences of the commercial war these days. From the European point of view we cannot export our technology, know-how; we do not allow our companies to do business with Russia. We hope that this commercial war does not go on, because Russia could close its borders to Italian wine, for example. Italy is the first producer of wine in Europe, and I think all over the world. So, there would be a very serious damage for the Italian economy. All media have to consider all aspects of influence of the sanctions on our economy that might help the politicians to be more conscious of what is happening.
RT: In the EU, lawmakers and business seem to be increasingly out of step. How far might this trend go? What could that lead to in the EU?
FB: The business world in Italy is very worried about what is happening and the possibility of further development of this commercial war. We can sustain for a few weeks or months the closure of the frontiers to exports of some products, but for how long we can go on? How much time do we need to find alternative markets? Especially for Italy, we know that our products are very important for Russia. The governments have to think better of what is happening and start a dialogue with Russia, because Russia is a part of Europe and is considered to be a good business partner for all the member states.
The dialogue between Italy and Russia is an opportunity, not a problem. If EU politics has transformed a big opportunity into a big problem, we need to change the politics.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.