“We need to lift sanctions and to destroy the walls”


NEWS/Alex Maishev

The mayor of the Italian city of Rimini Andrea Gnassi and Minister of tourism of the region Emilia-Romagna Andrea Corsini gave an exclusive interview to “Izvestia”. Italian politics has been in the newspaper and talked about the need to abandon anti-Russian sanctions, the problems of cooperation with Russian cities, the growth of tourist flows, the relation to the visa regime and the impact of migration crisis on security in Italy.

— Mr. Gnassi what you have as the mayor of Rimini impressions of the visit to Moscow? You have noted some nuances that would like to implement in your city?

Mr. of Grassi: I had a strong and vivid emotions, because Moscow is a landmark for the whole world. This is an example to Italy. Moscow is constantly changing, and it is clear that many resources are invested in improving the infrastructure. I noticed a lot of young people who strive to meet a rapidly developing city.

— At what level is the cooperation between Moscow and Rimini?

Mr. of Gnassi: it is Necessary to raise the level of relations between our cities and countries. We are proud to Rimini is kind of the gateway for the Russians to Italy. Moscow and Rimini connects the story of three decades. It Rimini 30 years ago became the first city which started to establish closer relations with Moscow and Russia in General. Today, 50% of Russians-tourists visiting Italy, just come to our city.

Emilia-Romagna is a major tourist region. How did the anti-Russian sanctions on the flow of tourists?

Mr. of Gnassi: It hit hard in our region and the impact on the tourist flow. Due to sanctions there is a risk to spoil relations with Moscow and losing Russian tourists. So we worked on the new proposals especially for the Russians, so they can come to us and stay happy. We feel that the market is gradually starting to recover. Penalties — a heavy burden for Russian-Italian relations, so I am in favour of their abolition. If we apply such sanctions to Russia, it is possible to introduce such restrictions to half of the world.

Mr. Corsini: I also oppose sanctions. You need to stop with the “punishment” of Russia. As the Minister of the region, I know it’s hard on the Italian economy and hurting our exports. Particularly affected agricultural production. In Emilia-Romagna many businesses that could supply goods in Russia, suffered serious losses.

The EU is experiencing serious migration crisis. As is the situation with the refugees in your area?

Mr. of Gnassi: Italy — the centre of the Mediterranean, so the immigration crisis affects us very significantly. We believe that the entire EU needs to solve this problem alone because Italy can’t handle this. First of all, the necessary international agreements between the EU on the one hand and the countries of Africa and the Middle East.

Mr. Corsini: the Italian government has worked hard to establish bilateral agreements with those countries whence the largest number of migrants. It is necessary to keep the flow of migrants under control. At the same time we oppose any kind of building walls to contain people on the borders. The immigration crisis has affected all EU countries, so the problem can be solved only together.

— How do you feel about the proposal of the Minister of foreign Affairs of Austria Sebastian Kurz to send the migrants back to Africa or the Islands?

Mr. Corsini: you really want a unified European migration policy. And although Italy is a country that is always ready to shelter the needy, we must understand that we are not able to host all arriving. Of course, we are obliged to accept refugees from the hot spots and try to integrate them, but in our country there are no conditions to accommodate everyone. I think it is correct to follow the policy, when the country will take how many migrants able to accommodate. Moreover, without Russia it is difficult to solve the problems in the Mediterranean, and the middle East. So we return to that which is necessary to lift sanctions and to destroy built walls between ourselves.

And in Emilia-Romagna a lot of migrants? Do they influence the security situation in the region?

Mr. Corsini: I Assure you: in our area safely. The Italian government allocates to regions quotas for migrants. In Emilia-Romagna are not so many migrants. We try to integrate them into our society. The authorities help them to find work. For example, in Rimini the refugees at night, clean beaches. So in our case, the migrants provide useful services to the region.

Long time for the Russians had closed the most popular destinations — Egypt and Turkey. Egypt closed on this day. Has this affected the inflow of tourists from Russia to Italy and, in particular, in your region?

Mr. of Gnassi: primarily because of the sanctions policy, the total number of Russian tourists in our region has declined. But in 2016, there is a tendency of growth, and the Russians in Rimini became more noticeable. Compared to 2015 in 2016 in Rimini has been 9.5% more Russians — about 140 thousand we Have strong ties: Russian love Rimini and Rimini like Russian. Many people come to Rimini because it is convenient to travel to Venice, Rome, Florence, Bologna and so on. In 2017 it is expected the growth in tourist arrivals from Russia by 15%. I hope that next year Italy will return to pre-crisis levels and the number of tourists from Russia will amount to a million. Despite the crisis, we do not lose hope because to Rimini have continued to speak Russian! In Emilia-Romagna has developed special offers for the Russian tourists that take into account their capabilities. Furthermore, we are trying to make a seaside holiday combined with cultural and gastronomic tourism.

With one of the Russian furniture companies, we launched a project where the image of rn is used in the design of the interior. This is just one of the areas of cooperation, and its purpose is to create the image of Rimini and to introduce people to the Renaissance, birthplace of Federico Fellini.

We always say that Emilia-Romagna and Rimini is a unique mix of Italian lifestyle. Our region has a soul, so it is no coincidence that we attract so many tourists.

— What are the advantages of your region?

Mr. Grassi of: Emilia-Romagna stretches of the ancient Roman road that connects the ten largest cities in Italy. On the way tourists are sure to meet museums and delicious food. We love to say that Emilia Romagna is the heart of Italy.

— How does the number of Italians arriving in Russia, with Russian tourists in Italy?

Mr. Corsini: the Exact number of Italian tourists I don’t know. But in recent years, thanks to regular flights from Rimini and Bologna, the flow of Italian tourists in Russia increased. Due to reduction of prices on tickets, a growing number of Italians attending primarily Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Frankly, our job is to attract Russian tourists in Emilia-Romagna, and not Vice versa — to send the Italians in Russia.

— Share a secret how to attract more Italians in Russia?

Mr. Corsini: Our region is famous for its tradition of hospitality. So the important thing for an Italian is a warm welcome. We believe that tourist must feel, if you want a temporary citizen, when he comes to visit. By the way, good idea to organize some kind of big joint event in Moscow and Rimini, which would reveal the features of Russian and Italian cultures. Moscow and Rimini is a city that is constantly changing, so you need to create a mutually positive way.

— What are the plans for cooperation in Rimini with other cities of Russia? Maybe there is a Russian twin cities?

Mr. of Gnassi: Historically, Sochi sister city of Rimini. These relationships need to develop in some degree to recover. Because now basically good relations with the cities where there are direct flights from Rimini: Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov.

— What Italian region or city in Emilia-Romagna competes for Russian tourists?

Mr. Corsini: We don’t want to compete with other Italian regions, but rather work closely with the neighboring regions. We should not compete among themselves and with other European countries such as Spain, Greece, Croatia. I am sure that all Italian region should be a “team.” Although to say that there is no competition at all, you can’t. Each region wants to show their best side. In Emilia-Romagna, 75% of tourists — Italians and foreigners — 25%. Our aim is to increase the percentage of tourists from other countries.

— Russian President Vladimir Putin recently called the visa regimes in Europe is an anachronism. What do you think about this?

Mr. Corsini: the Visa regime with Russia is good, it is necessary to cancel. This will facilitate the free movement of people and goods. But now the procedure for issuing visas has been significantly simplified. There is a system of multiple entry visa that allows people to obtain a Schengen visa for a longer period. In Moscow, the Italian Consulate works very effectively.

Mr. of Gnassi: I share the opinion of your President. Visa is really a relic of the past. And I repeat: sanctions and visa are walls that prevent to build a good relationship. Europe over the last 20 years has changed dramatically, becoming a single entity without visa barriers. Therefore, the EU should use this system in relations with Russia.

— Are there prerequisites for ending the sanctions policy? The change in Europe’s attitude to the Crimea?

Mr. Corsini: It is a question of political will in Europe. Because the sanctions has hit hard the Italian economy, for two years the Italian government is working to ease the pressure of the West on Russia, but alone Rome will not cope. It is very difficult to develop the country and region with so many barriers. I hope that the problem will be solved as soon as possible and in favor of Russia. To date, the Crimea seriously competes with Italy for Russian tourists. Less tourists in the Crimea — more than in Italy. With the lifting of sanctions in Emilia-Romagna and Russian tourists will come more. And Crimea will be a new direction for the rest of the Italians. Frankly, the Italians are ready to go anywhere in the world that has good food, service and hospitality.

In December in Italy a referendum was held on constitutional reform. As voted by Emilia-Romagna and why?

Mr. Corsini: Our region unanimously voted for reform. Think we missed an opportunity to change the future of Italy. But the Italians recognize the referendum results, even though they contradict our expectations. Emilia-Romagna voted for the reforms because we have traditionally been strong pull to change. The population of the region was ready to reform and support the government. And “against” votes in other regions should not be interpreted as a disagreement with the reforms, but as a protest against the government.

Mr. of Gnassi: the Referendum took place in an important historical period that affected Europe and the United States, when the conditions for the growth of opposition sentiment. For example, Brexit, the victory of Donald trump in the United States — all the symbols of our time. Against this background, the Italians had supported the protest against the system. There is a paradox that needs to be explained. The Italians on the question “do you Agree to reduce the number of members of Parliament?” was answered “Yes.” But during the referendum voted “against.” The results were a protest against the government — as a response to migration crisis and other relevant issues. This is very similar to what happened in the United States. Hillary Clinton was the personification of system and establishment of system establishment and associated reforms.