The foreign Ministers of Russia and Italy confirmed their common approaches to Syria, Ukraine and Libya

MOSCOW, 1 Feb. /TASS./ The foreign Ministers of Russia and Italy Sergey Lavrov and Angelino Alfano at the talks in Moscow on Thursday focused on international issues – the situation in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. The agenda was largely dictated by the fact that Italy this year holds the rotating chairmanship of the OSCE. Following the talks, the Ministers noted that the approaches of Moscow and Rome to the problems we discussed are largely the same.

The vectors of the OSCE

In the beginning of the meeting Lavrov said that Russia believes that a constructive and positive future-oriented programme of the Italian presidency in the OSCE. The Russian Minister, in particular, singled out the stated intention Alfano solve the problems of the Eurasian continent not through confrontation, but through a balance of interests. The Russian foreign Minister also drew attention to the initiative of the Prime Minister on strengthening the Mediterranean vector of the organization and work to address the migration crisis.

According to Lavrov, Moscow would like to see a more active OSCE in other areas in Kosovo, “to resolve the remaining issues in full compliance with resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council”.

The Russian foreign Minister added that Russia also expects the introduction of the OSCE into force of the agreements on placement of additional observers in Nagorno-Karabakh reached at the meeting of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia in June 2016. According to Lavrov, the sides are close to agreeing the final parameters of this initiative.

The Prime Minister in response promised to make every effort to create an inclusive dialogue within the OSCE framework. “We see this as a big strategic opportunity for the organization is conceived as a tool to maintain open channels of communication between West and East. Considerable attention in our work in the framework of the OSCE is paid and Mediterranean issues,” he said.

Progress in Sochi

The talks between the foreign Ministers of Russia and Italy took place on the background which ended on Tuesday, Congress of the Syrian national dialogue in Sochi. The results of the efforts of Russia to resolve the crisis, for many years located in the center of attention of the international community took an important place in the conference program Ministers. Lavrov said he had informed Italian colleague about the outcome of the forum. “We expect that the results of this Congress will help [the special envoy of the UN Secretary General on Syria] Staffan de Mistura, to further intensify the work of the Geneva process talks between the government and a wide spectrum of the opposition, with the primary aim of constitutional reform”, – he said.

Lavrov added that with the same position Russia to Luhansk and Donetsk are ready to come in to contact with Kiev on other issues in the “channel format” (Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine) and contact group (OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, DND and LNR). “The Russian side during the operation of the “Norman format” and contact group finished along with proclaimed republics on certain flexibility, including the introduction in force of the law on the special status of Donbass in the so-called “formula Steinmeier” (binds the entry into force of this law to conduct elections), which was agreed by the leaders of the “Normandy format” in October 2015,” he said. The Minister said that the Ukrainian side this readiness cannot be seen – Kiev still refuses to put “the formula Steinmeier” on paper.

An example of the negotiability of the parties, the foreign Minister also noted the end of 2017 “Christmas” truce. But, said Lavrov, it is regularly violated the so-called volunteer battalions, in fact, neo-Nazi organizations, which capture a growing influence in Ukraine and prevent the settlement negotiations. According to the Russian Minister, this is a worrying trend.

In turn, the Prime Minister noted that the settlement in Ukraine is a priority for Italy and the OSCE. Rome, he added, supports all existing negotiation formats – the “Norman Quartet”, a contact group, the efforts of the OSCE and the Special monitoring mission of the organization in the Donbass.

Elections and gas

The Russian Minister pointed to the final approval of all parameters for the participation of observers of the OSCE in monitoring the presidential elections in Russia on March 18, 2018. “We confirmed the readiness to accept the OSCE observers to presidential elections of the Russian Federation in March 2018. The OSCE has established working contacts with the Central election Commission, and all questions concerning the organization of the observation, agreed upon,” he said.

Lavrov and the Prime Minister also highlighted some of the issues related to bilateral relations of Russia and Italy and Russia and the OSCE. In addition, the Prime Minister raised the issue of gas supplies from Russia to Europe, part of which goes to Italy. However, he gave high marks to Moscow as a partner.

“Even during the cold war the Russian gas was used for heating homes of Italian citizens, he said. We intend to continue this tradition. Italy has always been a reliable partner and a neat payer of all services rendered, as well as Russia was a reliable partner and supplier of these services. I think this will serve us a guarantee that we intend to do in the future.”