Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
11:40 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
International
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Italian PM meets Putin to cement post-Berlusconi ties
Agence France Presse
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti (C) in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on July 23, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/ ALEXEY DRUZHININ
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti (C) in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on July 23, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/ ALEXEY DRUZHININ
A+ A-

MOSCOW, July 23: Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Monday held talks with Russian leaders to cement ties after the departure of President Vladimir Putin's close friend Silvio Berlusconi.

Making his first visit to Russia after taking over from Berlusconi, Monti met Putin in Sochi and also oversaw in Moscow the signing of a one billion euro deal for an Italian firm to invest in the North Caucasus.

"It is very good that we are tied to Italy with deep, good relations and they continue irrespective of what changes there are in the outside world," Putin told Monti in comments broadcast on state television.

He expressed satisfaction over trade volumes which grew 25 percent to $45.9 billion in 2011, saying that at this rate trade would soon reach the levels seen before the financial crisis.

Russia, which enjoys closer ties with Rome than any other major EU state, is engaged in a range of joint projects with Italy including the South Stream gas pipeline and the Superjet short-haul passenger planes.

Monti's high-profile visit to Russia is aimed at keeping up the strong alliance between Moscow and Rome after the departure from power of Berlusconi, a personal friend of Putin.

"Monti's visit should show that Russian and Italian relations are dynamic even without Silvio Berlusconi," a foreign ministry source told the Vedomosti daily.

Putin and Berlusconi made no effort to hide that their friendship went well beyond diplomacy, attending each other's birthday parties and making regular shared displays of public machismo.

Even after falling from power in November 2011, Berlusconi has been a regular visitor to Russia, meeting Putin at a ski resort in March after his presidential election victory and also attending his inauguration in May.

In a sign of the enduring strength of the relationship, Russia and a top Italian construction firm signed a deal worth 1.0 billion euros ($1.2 billion) to build infrastructure for developing tourism in the violence-plagued North Caucasus.

"Rizzani de Eccher plans to form a consortium of investment, credit, and import firms and other organisations as well as construction and developer companies," the Russian North Caucasus Resorts group said in a statement.

The deal was signed by the main shareholder of the Italian firm, Claudio de Eccher and the chairman of North Caucasus Resorts Akhmed Bilalov in Moscow.

Developing tourism in the North Caucasus is a key strategic priority for Russia to bring stability to a region with huge potential but which has been scarred by a years-long Islamist insurgency fuelled by high unemployment.

Rizzani de Eccher will be taking part in the Russian plan to develop "world class" ski resorts in the region around Mount Elbrus, Mamison in North Ossetia, Matlas in Dagestan and Tsori and Armkhi in Ingushetia.

The Russian foreign ministry source told Vedomosti that participation in the Caucasus project -- strongly endorsed by both Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev -- is seen as a symbol of close ties with Russia.

Eccher is considered as being close to Berlusconi in Italy, the source noted.

Caisse de Depots of France -- another EU state that enjoys relatively warm ties with Putin's Russia -- has also promised to attract one billion euros in investment for the Caucasus.

Russia additionally wants to develop beach resorts along the Caspian Sea in Dagestan, a region that sees almost daily clashes between insurgents and the security forces.

The ambitious plan sees the creation of 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) of ski runs, 102,500 beds and a capacity to receive 172,000 people on a daily basis.

The overall cost of the hugely-ambitious alpine project is estimated at 450 billion rubles (11.4 billion euros/$14 billion).

 
Home International
 
     
 
Russia
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Saturday April 19, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Why Israeli-Palestinian talks fail
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS