Medvedev talking Libyan war in Rome

Russia’s president is in Rome, attending grand celebrations of the country’s 150th anniversary of unification. Dmitry Medvedev has also found time to talk serious matters with the Italian PM, including Libya and the country’s bilateral relations.

Following the meeting with Silvio Berlusconi, the Russian president once again voiced Russia’s position in the Libyan settlement.

"Russia wants to give maximal assistance to the settlement of this problem via negotiations rather than with military force, and to let the people choose the country's future," he said. "This is not an easy way and, judging by certain signs, things are very complicated at present."

Dmitry Medvedev said that he plans to discuss the situation in Libya in the course of tripartite meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and US Vice-President Joe Biden.

He added that the US plans for deployment of anti-missile defense systems in Europe are also in the talks’ agenda.

The Russian president also announced that Russia and Italy intend to continue boosting their economic co-operation and increase a number of joint projects.

According to Berlusconi, Italy is Russia’s fourth partner by the volume of trade, but intends to become the third in the near future. The Italian Prime Minister added that his talks with the Russian president were very positive and fruitful. 

This is the second official visit by the Russian president to the country since the beginning of the year. He also attended the festivities, held on Thursday, marking Italy’s dual holiday.

­Two big holidays on one day

Every second day of June Italy celebrates the Republic Day known as Festa della Repubblica. On this day in 1946, the Italian population was given a chance to choose the form of government between the monarchy and a republic. The majority voted for republic, so the monarchs of the House of Savoy were deposed and exiled.

Italy marked the event with the most spectacular show in the center of Rome near the Coliseum, traditionally featuring not only the national army of Italy but also regiments of foreign armies.

This year the celebration also coincided with 150 anniversary of Italy’s unification from a patchwork of city states, so the number of flags of foreign states that has joined the celebration is unprecedented.

Unlike the military tattoo in Paris or in Moscow on Victory Day, the event in Rome is not much of a show of military might and readiness, but a celebration of the recent history of Italy through the demonstration of uniforms and equipment of the past.

The audience‘s favorite were Italian fighter jets that opened the parade and painted the skies of Rome with the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green. High-ranking officials from some 80 countries were invited to the event.

It is expected that in Rome the leaders will highlight the agenda of the summit in Russia. Traditionally these are economic ties between Russia and EU and joint energy projects, like the nearly-constructed Nord Stream gas pipeline and South Stream pipeline, planned for the near future, that Italy is interested in.

Italy is also working on an ambitious Sukhoi Superjet passenger plane and developing joint space exploration programs with Russia. Italy is Russia’s third-biggest trading partner within the EU, a relationship deserving a privilege status and, as Silvio Berluskoni described it during Dmitry Medvedev’s visit in February, Italy is Moscow’s “reference point” within the EU, be it accession to WTO, fighting global terrorism or participating in European security.

The co-operation does not end there, though. Russia and Italy have rich cultural and historical ties. 2011 is the exchange year of Russian culture and language in Italy and vice versa.