Monday, May 22, 2017

RÉSEAU VOLTAIRE -- Indian Air Force’s Army on Isis Alert

Indian Air Force’s Army on Isis Alert

In a letter addressed to 12,000 officers of the Indian Air Force’s Army, the Air Force’s Chief Marshal, Birender Singh Dhanoa, asked them to get ready for new operations for which very little notice would be given.
General Dhanoa made explicit reference to a terrorist threat to Jammu and Kashmir.
We have recently indicated that numerous members of Daesh are leaving Syria for Kashmir via Pakistan.
There have only been two occasions in the past where Superior Indian officers have addressed a letter to their junior officers: on 1 May 1950 by General K M Cariappa and 1 February 1986 by General K Sundarji.
Translation Anoosha Boralessa

RÉSEAU VOLTAIRE -- Força Aérea da Índia em Alerta perante o Estado Islâmico - ISIS

 Força Aérea da Índia em Alerta perante o Estado Islâmico - ISIS 


Ao dirigir uma carta a 12.000 oficiais do Exército da Força Aérea da Índia, o Marechal Birender Singh Dhanoa, pediu-lhes que preparassem para novas operações com pré-aviso muito curto.

O General Dhanoa fazia uma referência explícita a uma ameaça terrorista em Jammu e Caxemira.

Informamos recentemente que muitos membros da Daesh deixaram a Síria em direcção à Caxemira, via Paquistão.

Somente dois oficiais superiores indianos enviaram uma carta aos seus subordinados: o General K M Cariappa, em 01 de Maio de 1950 e o General K Sundarji, em 1 de Fevereiro de 1986.

THIERRY MEYSSAN -- The Pentagon has its eyes on Venezuela

The Pentagon has its eyes on Venezuela

The recent events of violence that took place in Venezuela, driven by radical, right wing groups, have got sociologists, political scientists, journalists and national and international intellectuals talking. 
Thierry Meyssan, a journalist, researcher and expert in geopolitics, warned that these acts form part of a strategy, designed by the US Government, to provide the basis for a military intervention; an intervention similar to what took place in countries in the Middle East and North Africa and the product of campaigns seeking to set up people against people and people against governments; events which have come to be known as the Arab Spring.
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Thierry Meyssan
What exactly does the United States want from our country?
— The United States is seeking to generate here in your country a civil war of the genre it launched at the beginning of this decade in some countries in North Africa and the Middle East – the so-called Arab Spring, where they pitched in combat brothers against brothers to weaken the region’s governments by funding highly radicalized terrorist groups that we are witnessing right now sowing terror.
— How do you think that this strategy is going to function?
— Even though it is not clear what groups from here are supporting the United States achieving its goal, I take note that it has several military bases in a neighbouring country. Thus clearly danger is in the making. For starters, the US is going to carve up the population by trying to radicalize it.
— How do you think it is going to bring about this division?
— First, the US will try to convince the Venezuelans that this government will first be displaced and then replaced by another government. The idea is that the people will lose confidence in the government and public institutions. Once this seed has been planted in their minds, the hope is that people will be convinced that History’s writing is on the wall and that there is nothing they can do about it. This would be similar to what has taken place in the Arab countries; of course, the only people to have survived threats of this type are precisely those that have remained united. In the case of Venezuela, it is worth emphasizing that the Commander Hugo Chavez scattered the seeds of nationalism throughout the country and the germination of such seeds is important to tackle the situation before us.
— But why exactly does this Northern country want this?
— Let me take you back to 2001: after the Twin Towers collapsed and the Pentagon was attacked, there was no objection to the US flouting all fundamental rights; it was then it began to start attacking each one of the Near East states; the next step will be Latin America. From the beginning of the nineties, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States set itself up as the incontrovertible world power. By this time, it was already conscious of what it had to do in order to achieve this; if it was necessary, it had to lose many things. If it had to lose both its arms, it would be ready to do it.
— What would be the role of the mass media in this plan and how should we compare its information policy with that employed in conflicts in the Arab states?
— For us, these demonstrations that have taken place in Venezuela have been evidently covered by international media to present an image which is very different from what is actually occurring. As for what occurred yesterday (Monday) on the motorway (Francisco Fajardo), it was magnified to show that war has erupted in Venezuela and that opposition is no “David”. The truth is that I saw for myself this demonstration and noted just how poor turnout actually was. Also the impression the media had wanted to give to the Western World is that people are dying of hunger in Venezuela simply because the government is not giving them anything to eat.
— What opinion do you have on the press coverage on the harassment and aggressions, in one form or another, chiefly in the United States and in some European countries, of persons that support the Bolivarian Revolution and its President?
— The question that must be posed is why the media is lying? It is illogical, and senseless; yet clearly, the response must be that these media form part of the military policy the US is pursuing to establish a basis for war (ius ad bellum). In the Pentagon’s command room there are military groups that are not there to see what is actually going on but simply to plan together; for example, with people from Reuters Agency and of course they rely on the participation of a pool or group of international media. With all these elements, it is claimed to create a negative image of some Government officers by charging them of being drug traffickers or being involved in crimes of corruption or assassinating their own people. To implement this plan, it is necessary to fund and form groups for terrorist actions to attack public institutions and to create an inverse effect. The one exception is the television channel, Telesur, which presents facts as they are.
Of course, to reach this goal, a plan has also been drawn up to slow down communications between Venezuela and the rest of the world. I have spent four days in Venezuela and it has been very difficult for me to communicate by telephone. I had to have recourse to applications like “whats app”, for example, applications which are under US control.
— What is going to happen to countries classified as US allies but which also have affinity to us because they are part of Latin America?
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— It is unclear if this attack will be strictly limited to the countries of “North East” South America (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador), or directed against the Latin America in its entirety; but, if we go by documents declassified in 2004 by the Pentagon, it is not anticipated that it will strike any of the following: Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. We must keep in mind that from 2004 to now, many things have happened in Brazil and Mexico, because of which the US strategy could have changed.
— What perception do you have of Venezuela following your four day stay?
— I believe that the Venezuelan people are really motivated to preserve their gains. To the extent that the people are gaining confidence in the country, of course, Venezuela is doing well. Also, it is very important that the Venezuelans seek alternative means, different to the US allies, to be able to provide information on what is actually happening. They could use VoltaireNet for example as such a vehicle.
Anoosha Boralessa

THIERRY MEYSSAN -- El Pentágono tiene a Venezuela en la mira

El Pentágono tiene a Venezuela en la mira

Recientes actos de violencia perpetrados en Venezuela por sectores de la derecha dieron lugar a la apertura de una discusión entre sociólogos, politólogos, periodistas e intelectuales nacionales y extranjeros. 
El periodista, investigador y experto en geopolítica, Thierry Meyssan, advirtió que esos actos son parte de una estrategia diseñada por Estados Unidos para justificar una intervención militar, como las que han ocurrido en países del Medio Oriente y del norte de África, producto de las campañas para enfrentar pueblo contra pueblo y pueblo contra gobierno, en lo que ha dado en llamarse la «primavera árabe».


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Thierry Meyssan
¿Qué es lo que busca en concreto Estados Unidos en nuestro país?
Thierry Meyssan: Estados Unidos quiere generar aquí una especie de guerra civil similar a la que se inició a principios de esta década en algunos países del norte de África y del Medio Oriente, que se llamó la «primavera árabe», donde pusieron a pelear hermanos contra hermanos para debilitar los gobiernos de la región mediante el financiamiento de los grupos terroristas y extremadamente radicales que estamos viendo ahora sembrando el terror.

RÉSEAU VOLTAIRE -- Trump’s Speech at Riyadh focuses on eradicating terrorism, not Islam

Trump’s Speech at Riyadh focuses on eradicating terrorism, not Islam


Contrary to what Western Press agencies are reporting and President Obama’s delivery in Egypt eight years ago, President Donald Trump did not deliver a speech on Islam during his trip to Saudi Arabia.
Recalling that his voyage which began in Saudi Arabia, the land of Islam’s holy places and would continue to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Vatican. He has called for the practice of tolerance and respect between the three religions of Abraham.
Focusing his discussion on the fight against terrorism, he appealed to the religious and humanist sentiments of the Muslim leaders present, pleading that they no longer cooperate with those sowing the seeds of death. He invited them to participate in the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. What follows are the principal extracts of his speech:
« We are not here to give sermons; we are not here to preach to others how they must live, act, learn or worship. Instead, we are here to offer a partnership – based on interests and shared values – so that we all can pursue a future that will be brighter for us all.

(…) It is a choice between two futures – it is a choice that America cannot make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations reject terrorists and extremists. Throw them out. Throw them out of your places of worship. Throw them out of your communities. Throw them out of your holy land. Banish them from our earth .
For our part, America is committed to adjusting its strategies to face new threats and facts as they develop. We will eliminate strategies that have not worked and will apply new techniques that have emerged from experience and judgement. We are adopting a pragmatic approach, anchored in common values and shared interests.
(…) The religious leaders must make this absolutely clear; inhumanity will not bring any glory to you – devotion to evil will not bring you any dignity. If you choose the path of terror, then your life will be short and your soul condemned.
(…) With God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practise terror and who propagate their vile credo. At the same time, we pray so that we may remember the day of this gathering as the beginning of peace in the Middle East - and possibly throughout the entire world.

(…) I ask you to join me, to join me, to work together – United, we will not fail. I thank you. May God bless you. May God bless your country. And may God bless the United States of America ».
Donald Trump’s Speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit”, by Donald Trump, Voltaire Network, 21 May 2017.
Anoosha Boralessa

Donald Trump’s Speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit

Donald Trump’s Speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit

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I want to thank King Salman for his extraordinary words, and the magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting today’s summit. I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.

The Short Memory of the Americans


The Battle of Russia (1943)
This motion picture film examines the war in Russia, 1941-1943.
Reel 1 dramatizes Russia's military history. Alexander Nevsky defeats the German knights in 1242. The Swedes are defeated in 1704 in a cavalry battle at Poltava. French troops retreat from Moscow in 1812. Kaiser Wilhelm inspects troops on the Eastern front in 1917.
Reel 2 shows mine operations, agricultural scenes, oil fields, and manufacturing scenes. People of many ethnic groups present native dances. Civilian and military units parade in Moscow. Maksim Litvinoff asks the League of Nations to aid Ethiopia in 1935.
Reel 3 maps Axis expansion into eastern Europe. Hungarian, Rumanian, and Bulgarian troops parade prior to Nazi occupation. Footage shows puppet leaders Admiral Miklos von Nagybanya Horthy, General Ion Antonescu, King Michael of Romania and King Boris of Bulgaria. Adolf Hitler and Generals Wilheim Keitel and Alfred Jodl meet. Nazis march through Hungarian cities. Yugoslavian cities are bombed and Greece is occupied. Tanks roll from Russian assembly lines and troops are inducted. German panzer divisions invade Russia in June 1941.
Reel 4 maps the German advance in 1941 and analyzes Russian strategy. Hitler makes a victory speech in October. Footage shows intense street fighting in Sevastopol. Russians of all ages are mobilized.
In Reel 5, houses, factories, and a large dam in the Ukraine are burned or dynamited before the advancing Nazis. Guerilla units draw arms and then dynamite Nazi installations. Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, and other leaders pose. Red troops parade in Moscow in Dec. 1941.
In Reel 6, citizens pray in churches on Christmas Day. Russian tanks, cavalry units, and ski troops advance beneath air support. Villages are liberated and refugees return.
In Reel 7, dead and tortured Russian civilians are found. Footage shows prewar Leningrad. Barricades are erected. The city is intensively bombed.
In Reel 8, the city is besieged. Women remove rubble from streets. Defenses are manned. Food is rationed. Shell manufacture continues. Supplies are brought in by truck, tractor, and railroad across frozen Lake Ladoga. Winter snows blanket the city. Nazi planes bomb trucks on the lake. The spring thaw arrives. Children play in the sunshine. German prisoners enter the city.
Reel 9 maps the battle for the Caucasus and the Crimea. Stalingrad is bombarded from the air by artillery and house-to-house fighting is shown.
Reel 10 maps the Russian encirclement of Nazis at Stalingrad. Marshal Nikolai Voronoff confers with his aides. The encircling Red armies meet in Dec. 1942. Flamethrowers, rockets, and artillery are used to force the surrender of remnants of 22 Nazi divisions. The final scene maps Russian gains and cites statistics on Nazi losses thus far in the campaign.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Press statements and answers to journalists’ questions following Russian-Italian talks

May 17, 2017
Press statements and answers to journalists’ questions following Russian-Italian talks. With Prime Minister of Italy Paolo Gentiloni.
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Press statements and answers to journalists’ questions following Russian-Italian talks. With Prime Minister of Italy Paolo Gentiloni.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
I want to start by noting our increasingly frequent meetings with our Italian partners and friends. Last month, we received President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow, and today, we had substantive and productive talks with Italian Prime Minister Mr Gentiloni.
Italy has traditionally been one of Russia’s major partners and our countries seek to build constructive relations based on equality and respect for each other’s interests.
We discussed the whole range of cooperation areas during the talks today, and outlined concrete plans for further development. We gave priority attention to promising areas for economic development.
Italy is one of Russia’s major trade partners. Our bilateral trade came to around $20 billion last year. Of course, as a result of the circumstances we know, this figure is considerably lower than the peak figure we had in 2013, but we do have grounds for hope because we saw bilateral trade growth of close to 30 percent at the start of this year.
It is very good to see that reciprocal investment remains at a high level. Italian investment in the Russian economy comes to more than $1 billion, and Russian investment in Italy comes to $2.4 billion.
I am sure that the implementation of the roadmap adopted last year on trade and investment cooperation will contribute to deepening business ties, as will the recent Italian government decision to select Russia as a target country for stepping up economic cooperation.
We invited Italian businesspeople to take part in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum that opens on June 1. I remind you that last year, we signed around 20 inter-corporate agreements for a total of $1.3 billion with Italy alone.
Of course, we discussed promising cooperation areas, including energy. Russia is Italy’s biggest natural gas supplier, covering 43 percent of its gas demand. We have agreed to continue developing our effective cooperation in this area.
We hope that Italian companies will take part in promising work to produce hydrocarbons and in projects to diversify Russian energy supplies to Europe. I am referring here to the construction of new mainline gas pipelines, in particular, along the southern route. In this respect, I note the cooperation agreement just signed between Rosneft and ENI.
We work together with good results in industry, science, and high-tech sectors.
I must mention too our productive cooperation in manned space flights. In two months’ time, an international team will fly to the International Space Station, with an Italian citizen among its members, Paolo Nespoli, as astronaut from the European Space Agency. This will be his second flight to the station.
Traditionally close ties in culture and tourism are one of the distinguishing features of our bilateral cooperation.
Italy is a very popular destination among Russian tourists. In 2016, 710,000 people from Russia visited Italy. We expect to see growing numbers of Italians visiting Russia too. Specialised tourism offices have opened in Rome and Milan, and this has already helped to boost the number of Italian tourists coming to Russia.
Our two countries’ museums are expanding their contacts. The Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow is currently holding an exhibition of Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico, and in June, the State Hermitage in St Petersburg will hold a unique exhibition of historic artefacts from the collection of the Egyptian Museum in Turin. In autumn, Days of Moscow will take place in Milan, Genoa, and Venice, and next year, the Russian Seasons will take place in Italy.
We discussed current issues on the international and regional agendas, of course, and looked at the crisis situations in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and on the Korean Peninsula.
Russia and Italy support joint efforts by the international community to act against today’s greatest threat – international terrorism.
Overall, we agreed to continue deepening our foreign policy coordination. This is particularly relevant now, with Italy holding a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and set to preside in the OSCE in 2018.
We discussed Russia’s relations with the European Union. It is not at all possible to call them normal right now, and we must try to avoid excessive politicisation and restore a constructive spirit for cooperation.
I am sure that greater economic cooperation between Russia and European countries and direct ties between the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU would help to strengthen trust across the entire Eurasian region.
I want to conclude by thanking Mr Gentiloni and all of our Italian friends and colleagues for this substantive and useful exchange of views. I am sure that the agreements we reached today will contribute to further all-round development of our bilateral ties.
Thank you for your attention.
Prime Minister of Italy Paolo Gentiloni (retranslated): I thank President Putin for the warm welcome in Sochi and our important talks, which will continue during our working lunch.
Bilateral relations are, of course, at the centre of our talks. We have always tried to maintain – even in the most difficult times, which may already be a thing of the past – the trust of Italian companies in the Russian market and the Russian business community. Our companies have always had trust in that country. I think it was the right choice, because the recent developments prove that following the difficult times – which were due to a variety of reasons – that the Italian and the Russian economies went through, today we can see positive signs of resumed trade exchanges between our countries.
Approximately 600 Italian companies are operating in Russia. The volume of trade remains an important issue, and, as the President mentioned, we saw new signs of it being restored in recent months. However, the data looks fairly positive against the background of Italy’s overall foreign trade. In terms of exports [to Russia], the Italian economy has reached a level unseen in the past seven years. Our companies prove that there is renewed interest in the Russian market (Astaldi, ENI, Tecnimont, and others). This is evidenced by the agreements that we signed today.
Prime Minister Renzi attended the St Petersburg International Economic Forum last year. This year, too, the forum remains an important event for our system. It will be attended by general directors of major Italian companies and an important Italian government delegation.
Keeping these economic relations in mind, I would like to mention another important and symbolic thing, which is our gratitude to Rosneft for giving the Marche region 5 million [euros] to rebuild a hospital after last year's earthquake.
We touched upon key international issues in our conversations as well. From my perspective, as the G7 chairman, I find it very important to understand President Putin’s viewpoint on these issues.
I think that there are opportunities for cooperation in fighting terrorism, and responding to regional crises. I'm talking about Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, where Italy and Russia (and the international community in general) can and should cooperate. There are common threats, and I think that we should join efforts as we try to respond to them. Some threats are quite serious, such as, primarily, Libya. I think that we are doing well in this arena as well.
Finally, in recent years, Italy has been supporting an open dialogue between Russia and the European Union. Of course, this strategic partnership should not be suspended because of the crisis involving Ukraine. I think that all the paths for working within this partnership, including the partnership with the Eurasian Economic Union, should remain open. Therefore, I once again thank President Putin for the warm welcome in Sochi.
Question (retranslated): Mr Gentiloni, you mentioned Libya. Do you really think that Moscow can nudge General Haftar into reconciliation with the Government of National Accord in Tripoli?
And a question for President Putin: Do you believe it is possible to establish a united government in Tripoli? Do you believe national reconciliation is possible? I see Mr Lavrov is here, and I want to ask, did he brief you on his recent meeting with President Trump? Also, how do you assess Trump’s action so far as US president?
Paolo Gentiloni: A united Libya is the common goal. I think this is in the interests of both Italy and Russia. We both support UN Resolution 2259, which welcomes the creation of the Government of National Accord.
We realise, however, that the government should be broadened and we are working to ensure that this expansion will be as inclusive as possible and will include important political players such as General Haftar’s movement.
I believe that the international community can and should make joint efforts in this direction because a united Libya will boost stability in the region, while a divided Libya would be dangerous for everyone.
Vladimir Putin: I think that there are hopes for civil peace in Libya. The country has great importance in the region and is important for Europe too as it has become a transit point for many refugees, especially from Africa, trying to cross to Europe.
This situation cannot be put down to whatever serious events, whether in North Africa, Iraq, or in Syria. But on May 2, as we know, the first meeting between the various political forces, General Haftar and the government, took place.
We hope greatly that the agreements reached at this meeting will go ahead and that this will open the road towards swift restoration of civil peace and stability in Libya.
For our part, we will do all we can to facilitate this process, together with our Italian friends and with all those who seek to normalise the situation, including other countries in the region, particularly Egypt.
As for the results of Foreign Minister Lavrov’s visit to the United States and his meeting with President Trump, we assess the results highly. This was the first visit, a return visit by our foreign minister, after we received US Secretary of State Tillerson here in Moscow.
This is normal and natural international practice. At the same time, however, we see the growing political schizophrenia in the United States. There is no other way I can explain the accusations against the current president that he handed whichever secrets over to Lavrov.
Incidentally, I spoke with him [Lavrov] today about this matter, and I will have to give him a ticking off for not sharing these secrets with me. Not with me, nor with our intelligence officials. This was really not good of him at all.
What’s more, if the US administration has no objection, we are ready to provide a transcript of Lavrov’s conversation with Trump to the US Senate and Congress. Of course, we would do this only if the American administration so desires.
Initially, when we watched the first developments in this internal political struggle, we were amused. But now, the spectacle is becoming quite simply sad, and it is causing us concern, because it is hard to imagine just how far people willing to think up this kind of nonsense and absurdity might go. All of this is ultimately about fanning anti-Russian sentiment.
This does not surprise me. They are using anti-Russian slogans to destabilize the internal political situation in the United States, but they do not realise that they are harming their own country. If this is the case, then they are quite simply stupid. If they do understand what they are doing, then they are dangerous and unscrupulous people. In any event, this is the United States’ own affair and we have no intention of getting involved.
As for assessments of President Trump’s actions so far in office, this too is not our affair. It is for the American people, American voters, to give their assessment. Of course, this will be possible only once he is fully allowed to work.
Question: Mr Prime Minister, let me move from relations with the United States to a broader international topic. In two weeks, the G7 Summit will be held under your chairmanship. I would like to know what message you will convey to the G7 leaders after talks with Russia. And, Mr President, I would like to know what message would you like to convey to the G7 leaders?
Paolo Gentiloni: The message will be rather simple, namely, that Russia is a very important player in the international arena and, in particular, in the Mediterranean, which is of particular importance for Italy, but also in many other regions.
That’s why when discussing various world crises, the G7 leaders at this important meeting – important because most of the leaders will be taking part in it for the first time, so it is also unusual in this respect – should take into account the views and positions of Russia, they should be part of our discussion.
We know that there are things that bring us together and things that divide us, but we also know that we have common interests – international stability, the fight against terrorism and the settlement of a number of crises.
We just talked about Libya, and we can extend this conversation to Syria and even to the risks emanating from the Korean peninsula. So, I think it is the duty of those chairing the G7 this year to keep an important player like Russia in mind.
Vladimir Putin: As for my message that I conveyed to the Prime Minister, it is secret, I cannot talk about it, it is confidential information.
Question (retranslated): Going back to the G7, even though you said that your message is secret. But the question I am addressing to both leaders is this: Is there evidence or the expectation that the G7 will again become the G8 in the foreseeable future?
And one more question for Mr Gentiloni, if I may. The discussion of the electoral law in Italy is again at an impasse. Is it possible that the government will sooner or later get involved in this process?
Paolo Gentiloni: I wouldn’t want to bore my colleagues and the Russian journalists with issues concerning the Italian electoral law. Partly because it is not a very simple issue. You know that the government, from the moment it was formed, declared that the issue is within the competence of parliament, and we shall confine ourselves to supporting and contributing to this work as best we can. We’ll see in the coming weeks and months how it will work out.
As for the G7, I repeat, the issue is not whether the G7 will again become the G8. It is about working with a key partner like Russia and looking for common ground on international crises.
Although we are managing to take some steps forward in this regard, that is, in the positive work being done in Syria, there have also been difficulties, and there are some open questions regarding Ukraine, but the further we move forward the easier it will be to answer your question.
Vladimir Putin: We did not refuse to be in the G8. Our partners chose not to come to us. We will always gladly welcome anyone who wants to cooperate with Russia in any format.
We will shortly be working in the G20 format in the Federal Republic of Germany. Just recently the Prime Minister and I were in China where President Xi Jinping rolled out an impressive programme of cooperation, a diverse and multifaceted one.
I am sure that if we work in this format – without any restrictions, without any political bias, and with the aim of achieving the maximum result in the economy and also in the social sphere – we can achieve results.
It is necessary to pool efforts in the economic sphere, in combating terror and poverty, and protecting nature and the climate. If we act in concert then the result will be positive, and if we act out of short-term considerations of political expediency, nothing good will come of it.
Question: We know that the Italian government has always consistently opposed tightening the sanctions against Russia. Sectoral sanctions expire in July. Will you remain as consistent as before, and what are you prepared to propose to your European Union colleagues? Decisions in the economic sphere, primarily?
And a question for the President. Italy calls us a target country. Is Russia prepared to give similar priority to working with Italy and, if so, in what specific areas?
Paolo Gentiloni: Yes, we all know the nature of these sanctions, that the European Union’s decisions are connected with the Ukraine crisis and with compliance with the Minsk Agreements. But our view is – and we have insisted on it and will continue to do so in the framework of the European Union and NATO – the extension of sanctions cannot be automatic.
There has to be a serious discussion of the issue. Of course, while preserving the goal of maintaining the unity of the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance, because nothing can be achieved separately, in addition to this unity we should factor in how things are going with respect to the Ukraine crisis.
If compliance with the Minsk Agreements remains our goal, we should clearly tell one another what the situation is. Italy, by the way, has extra interest in this because next year it will chair the OSCE, an organisation which plays an important role in monitoring compliance with some important concrete agreements made in Ukraine. So no one should think that Italy will alone challenge the opinion of its allies, but nor should anyone think that decisions such as the decision on sanctions can be passed automatically without a detailed discussion of the real situation.
Vladimir Putin: As regards priorities in cooperation with Italy, there are many, our cooperation is diversified. Above all this includes work in high-tech spheres, in the field of science and education. You have seen the signing of another agreement on cooperation between higher education institutions.
As I said in my opening remarks, we are working in the sphere of space exploration. We have completed a massive programme and there are good prospects for building planes, helicopters and engines. We have good and interesting results and good prospects in the sphere of infrastructure, not to mention energy.
There are all sorts of areas – hydrocarbon energy and renewable energy sources. I was just discussing with the Prime Minister the interest of the company Enel in developing wind energy. And there are other areas.

We discussed it in detail today and we don’t doubt for a moment that all these areas will be relevant and will develop. We’ll be able to look at the practical progress of many of these areas during the course of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.


At midday on Friday 5 February, 2016 Julian Assange, John Jones QC, Melinda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson and Baltasar Garzon will be speaking at a press conference at the Frontline Club on the decision made by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the Assange case.


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