Italy is not EU’s weak link in relations with Ukraine – diplomats, experts


Contacts between Ukraine and Italy have never been more intensive, than in the recent years including in both political and economic sectors. Italy is adherent to the unified EU position as to Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Regional cooperation needs to be reinforced.

Kyiv, June 30, 2016. Italy is not EU’s weak link in relations with Ukraine. Although its cooperation with the Russian Federation is important, partnership in the framework of the EU takes over. Bilateral trade remains the priority area of cooperation although its volumes have decreased over the past three-four years. Italy remains the top country as to the volume of export and the third top one as to the trade turnover after Germany and Poland. Among the problems of bilateral relations are the investment climate in Ukraine and the risks related to the war as well as the prejudice that as a result one would better not make business with the country. Moreover Ukraine is still not a quality brand and remains more attractive due to its raw materials, said Kateryna Zarembo, Deputy Director of the Institute of World Policy at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Ukraine for Italy is terra incognita. For the moment as a modern country Ukraine is little known. Ukrainian community is creating a positive image, that’s why in Italy there is no fear as to the Ukrainian migrants. Ukrainians have proven themselves as good, well-integrated people with advanced language skills, however, no one knows where they come from,” noted Zarembo.

According to Yevgen Perelygin, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine to Italy, the following themes are currently interesting for Italy: global and regional security, counteraction to illegal migration, social and economic development and growth. “If we find our place in these Italian priorities, our relations will become even more intensive, we will be able to gain new partnership,” said the Ambassador. Although, he noted that not yet being a NATO or EU member Ukraine cannot take part in working out security decisions as well as the decisions on migration. The situation with economic growth is totally different. “For now Made in Ukraine brand cannot enter the Italian market yet there is another opportunity: ‘Made in Ukraine’ made with Italy. It may become a link to Italy as well as enable entering wider markets and Italy’s traditional markets in the Northern Africa, Southern America and Asia,” said Perelyhin. In his opinion, Italy is a wonderful example of when a Unitarian country empowers its regions with wider cooperation opportunities.

Vasyl Khymynets, Director of the First European Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine noted that regional cooperation between the two countries is of utmost importance especially in the light of the recent events in Liguria [Regional Council of the Italian region Liguria adopted a resolution calling to lift the sanctions against the Russian Federation imposed due to Crimea annexation – UCMC]. “Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working to create the concept that would reinforce regional cooperation engaging all Ukraine’s regions. We plan to bring it to the national level,” said the diplomat. He is also of the opinion that Ukraine needs to look further into the future. “We do not know what the situation in Italy may be like. With regard to recent local elections anti-European and populist parties were among the most popular. We need to work and be looking for partners in all the sectors,” explained Khymynets. In his turn Fabrizio Romano, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Italy to Ukraine noted that these parties are generally not as big eurosceptics as everyone has got used to think of them, they just want the changes in Europe.

Ambassador is also of the opinion that the cooperation between the two countries is not at the level that it may potentially reach. aItaly remains Ukraine’s trusted partner. “Italy’s position [on Ukraine] is the most foreseeable and most faithful to the views of the EU. It happened exactly under Italy’s presidency that the issue of imposing sanctions on the Russian Federation due to the annexation of Crimea was brought on table. Italy has been consistently supporting the provision of the visa-free regime for Ukraine,” emphasized Fabrizio Romano.

Yevhen Yenin, Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine on international legal cooperation, Advisor and Ambassador of the Embassy of Ukraine in Italy in 2014-2016 added that it is currently very important to be debunking the myths and stereotypes about each other as well as help the people of Ukraine discover Italy and vice verse, the people of Italy discover Ukraine.