‘Absolute blindness in the EU’: Italy’s wealthiest region urges lifting of Russia sanctions

The Santa Maria Nascente Cathedral in Milan © Vladimir Astapkovich
The legislative assembly of Italy’s most populated and richest province, Lombardy, has passed a resolution urging the lifting of anti-Russia sanctions and recognition of Crimea’s right to self-determination.

The vote on the resolution, prepared by the Lega Nord (Northern League) political party, took place on Tuesday, with the initiative supported by 43 out of 87 council members, with 15 others abstaining.

The non-binding document authorized the chairman of Lombardy's Regional Council and regional head to work with Italy’s government and parliament as well as with the European Union to reconsider relations with Moscow.

It also called for the establishment of a special committee to gather signatures to lift sanctions against Russia.

The council members also demanded that the Italian government condemn “the EU’s international policy towards Crimea,” which reunited with Russia in 2014 after having been part of Ukraine, and recognize the results of the referendum which led to the reunion.

The regional government of Lombardy, headed by Roberto Maroni, supported the council’s resolution, Tass reported.

Resolutions similar to the one in Lombardy were previously adopted in Italy’s Veneto and Liguria provinces.

READ MORE: Italian senate refuses to back automatic renewal of anti-Russian sanctions

The Regional Council of Tuscany is to discuss a resolution calling for the lifting of anti-Russia sanctions on Wednesday.

In 2014, relations between Russia and the European Union deteriorated over the crisis in Ukraine.

Brussels followed the US’ lead and introduced several rounds of sanctions against Moscow over the reunion with Crimea and for Moscow’s alleged meddling in the Ukrainian conflict.

READ MORE: French Senate supports resolution to lift EU sanctions against Russia

Russia has repeatedly denied the allegations and it introduced its own restrictions against the West, including a ban on food imports from the EU.

Lega Nord’s representative in the Veneto region, Stefano Valdegamberi, told RT that Lombardy’s vote is “very important because this is the main production region in Italy. It represents around 10 million people.”

“The decision of the regional parliament gave more importance to the decision of Veneto and Liguria too,” he added.

The resolutions adopted across the country represent “the will of all Italian people that want to leave the sanctions against Russia and recognize the right to self-determination of Crimea,” Valdegamberi stressed.

Paolo Tosato, Italian senator and Lega Nord member, blamed the EU of “short-sighted vision” due to their policies towards Russia.

“It is an old vision, made of separate blocks, meaning Eastern and Western blocks, which is a real madness. Our interest, European interest is to dialogue with the Russian Federation and have commercial relations with it and all other countries in the world,” he said.

Tosato stressed that Italians and people in other countries express their view in territorial votes, like in Lombardy, because there’s “an absolute blindness and a deaf attitude towards the public call” in the EU.

“Let’s hope that once the will of changing the international politics of the EU will be expressed at a territorial level, national governments take this into consideration,” he told RT.

Paolo Grimoldi, leader of the Lega Nord party, said Lombardy supports the anti-sanctions resolution not only out of economic but also out of political reasons stressing that the region fully recognizes the referendum in Crimea.

READ MORE: Sarkozy: All sanctions should be lifted, but Moscow needs to reach out first

“It’s not just for economic reasons that we don’t want any sanctions to Russia but [also] for political reasons, because we think that in Crimea [the people participated in] the referendum exactly like in Kosovo. And so we just recognized the desire of Crimean people to be a part of Russia,” Grimoldi told RT.

He expressed confidence that the approved resolution in Lombardy will force the national government to take action and “take a clear position” on the issue.