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16 Jul, 2008 13:54

Will ‘EATO’ challenge NATO?

Italy’s President has expressed interest in the creation of a new Euro-Atlantic security structure during a meeting in the Kremlin with Dmitry Medvedev. Russia’s President has floated the idea as an alternative to NATO.

Speaking at the press conference following the talks Medvedev said the two presidents discussed common European security, including U.S. plans to place its missile defence system in Europe, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), and NATO's open door policy.

An Italian delegation has been in Moscow at the invitation of Medvedev.

The country is one of Russia’s main European partners. Medvedev has said relations between Russia and Italy “are exclusively good”.

Medvedev expressed hope that Italy's support will promote faster preparation of a new Russia-EU framework agreement. Due to the positions of Lithuania and Poland, the discussions on the new document were delayed and didn’t start until July. 

He stressed the trade turnover between two countries has reached $US 37 billion last year.

In response, the Italian president Giorgio Napolitano said Russian-Italian relations “are based on the ancient roots of mutual sympathy of our peoples”.

Large-scale energy projects have been on the agenda. In particular, the construction of a new system for the transportation of gas from Russia to southern Europe across the Black Sea area (known as South Stream) has been discussed. Russia's Gazprom and Italian ENI participate in the project.

The two presidents also spoke about mutual hi-tech initiatives. These are primarily partnetship in development of a medium-haul airliner, the Superjet-100, and a mobile communications system of TETRA (TErrestrial Trunked Radio) standard.

The pair suggested the “idea of a pan-European summit should be implemented”, according to Dmitry Medvedev's statement.
  “At this summit we could develop a document on European security. We both consider this idea interesting. All countries of the Euro-Atlantic areas could take part in this summit,” Medvedev said.