ROME, June 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Italy has always regarded the South Stream project plans to pipe Russian gas across the floor of the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then ashore for onward transit to Greece, Italy and Austria as a strategic project for Europe and will facilitate its implementation during its presidency of the European Union, Italy's state secretary for European affairs, Sandro Gozi, said in an exclusive interview with ITAR-TASS on Monday.
“The South Stream project has always been and remains most important for Italy, and we have a strong interest in implementing it, first of all, as it is one of those projects aimed to diversify transit routes,” Gozi said.
“We assume that in order to strengthen a single European energy market, it is absolutely necessary to diversify infrastructure connecting it with various suppliers,” he said. “And we believe that the same approach should be applied to everyone”.
Italy's EU presidency
On July 1, Italy will take over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Italy supports further expansion of the European Union and consolidation of Europe, but it considers it possible only while developing partnership between Russia and the EU, Sandro Gozi.
“As Italy takes over the European Union presidency, we give absolute priority to establishing political and economic integration with Kiev while resuming strategic partnership between the EU and Russia,” Gozi said. “Relations with Moscow can be neither broken off nor suspended. On the contrary, we are convinced of the need to strengthen them further.”
This message to Moscow was especially important after Kiev’s signing of an association agreement with the European Union, Gozi said.
“Ukraine’s integration with the EU and rapprochement between Russia and the European Union are parallel processes which should be regarded as complementary rather than antagonistic,” he said. “And in this context we will form our policy, bringing political relations between Russia, the EU and Ukraine to an entirely new level.”
Italy supported the policy of expanding the European Union and would facilitate the accession of Serbia and Albania, Gozi said.
“We want to prompt the process of their integration, thus expanding the boundaries of the Mediterranean Basin,” he said.
“Italy’s leadership has repeatedly stated that the Mediterranean region should be the focus of the European policy. This is a fundamental region to build up relations with Africa, particularly with Tunisia and Algeria,” he said, adding that the European Union should also continue negotiations with the United States to create a free market, and it should broaden cooperation with Asian countries.