The current economic recession that pervades the entire European Union has virulently hit some of its member countries, including Greece, Italy and Spain, with the effect of contributing further – on the geostrategic and geopolitical level – to the instability of the entire Mediterranean quadrant. The economic and financial crisis has an impact, as is well known, even in multilateral relations, limiting even more the room for maneuver of individual European nations. In order to get out of this impasse, it is therefore necessary to find new ways and new strategic partners, both for the European Union as a whole and for the nations most affected. As far as Italy is concerned, investment in the bilateral option appears to be increasingly decisive and strategic. Among the countries with which to entertain and increase economic relations in a long-term framework, are the members of the new geo-economic clusters, as the BRICS and the Eurasian Union that is now being established. Due to the deep complementarity that exists between the Italian and Russian economies, Moscow could be the most promising partner for Rome, not only for now but also for the future.
The financial and economic crisis that hit the United States from 2007-2008 has successively spread, as everyone knows, over the whole Western geo-economic system to compromise its foundations. In particular, the crisis has revealed some dystonies and basic inconsistencies of the EU’s political, economic and monetary system. This has helped to highlight a growing disaffection of the ruling classes of the individual EU Member States, and especially in public opinion, towards the structure of Europe itself. In the wake of the economic and social crisis, is it plausible to expect in the near future, not only a revival of “Euroskeptic” forces and trends, which are always present in Europe, but also their profound influence on the decisions of national governments. The possible fragmentation of the European Union is therefore a scenario to be taken into serious consideration for at least three important reasons: to estimate its impact on member countries, to evaluate the impact that this event could produce a global system that is increasingly organizing in many different forms and with different timelines, based on multinational and continental aggregations, and finally, to speculate about and to identify possible methods and practices to contain the probable failure of the European Union or its reformulation in a new multipolar framework.
The EU, compared to the new geopolitical and/or geo-economic clusters, formal or informal, including the Eurasian Customs Union, the BRICS countries, ASEAN, OCS, UNASUR, MERCOSUR, seems less and less ready to accept the global changes. This difficulty to change is due not only the permanent conflict or internal dialogue, due to the “nationalistic” options of certain national governments, but also the inadequacy of most of the European institutions. To these two factors must be added a third, geopolitical one: the EU, in a period of “global” crisis, certainly reflects the fact that its members have a geopolitical position overly biased towards its U.S. ally.
In the face of the creeping fragmentation both in the EU and the economic and financial difficulties of the Mediterranean countries noted above, some countries including Russia, China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Kazakhstan seem to respond better to the disturbance in progress. This seems largely due to the ability shown by these countries to finding points of connection between their long-term economic, political and strategic needs, on the basis of which, overcoming even old and deep misunderstandings, they have woven, and continue to weave geopolitical and geo-economic relations. The countries that are part of the new (geopolitical and geo-economic) clusters are likely to be the leading countries of the coming world scenarios. It is therefore obvious and urgent for the EU to identify as soon as possible which of these nations can be good partners for the immediate resolution of the current financial and economic crisis.
For Italy, Russia – an already important, and to some extent irreplaceable trading partner – is one of the potential countries to which Rome should look with special attention in the near future. An economic-financial agreement between Rome and Moscow, more detailed and cohesive than it is today, would certainly benefit both countries, but particularly Italy, which is one of the EU members paying dearly for the economic and financial disruption with devastating social effects on its internal social stability.
Prime Minister Monti’s insistence on the strategic nature of bilateral dialogue between Moscow and Rome, recently confirmed during meetings in Moscow and associates in July (1), seems to fall in this perspective. A perspective already drawn by the previous Prodi and Berlusconi governments, that have taken on increasing importance with Moscow’s entry in into the World Trade Organization. Economic relations between the two countries, although still largely hinged on the Italian energy needs, increasingly concern new sectors. The expansion and strengthening of these relations are beginning to spread in other fields, particularly those relating to technology transfer, high tecnology (2) and the development of infrastructure on a trans-Eurasian scale. In particular, the increase of scientific collaboration in support of partnerships related to innovation and the expansion of direct investment in their economies were further discussed between Foreign Minister Terzi and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dvokovich during the XIII Session of the Council on Economic, Industrial and Financial Cooperation between Russia and Italy, held on December 17, 2012 at the Center for Innovation in Skolkovo, near Moscow. For Italy, Russia represents not only a vast market, but more importantly, because of its geographic location, access to the CIS countries and, in particular, taking into account the newly-formed Eurasian Union, to Kazakhstan and Belarus.
The time seems ripe, therefore, accelerated by crisis in the Western system, to field a macro-regional strategy shared by Moscow and Rome for the modernization/industrialization of the Eurasian landmass, with the Italian contribution in terms of scientific knowledge, technology and experience in the context of long-term investments ensure success…
1. On this see Dario Citati’s comments on the occasion of Monti’s visit to Russia: Monti e Scaroni in Russia: guardare verso Mosca per fronteggiare la crisi (Monti and Scaroni in Russia: looking to Moscow to confront the crisis), in http://www.geopolitica-rivista.org/, 27 July 2012.
2. Tiberio Graziani, Il ruolo dell’High Tech nel consolidamento delle relazioni bilaterali. (The role of high-tech in the consolidation of bilateral relations) Report presented at the II Forum Innovazioni. Italia Russia: “Strategie comuni per la cooperazione, gli investimenti e lo sviluppo”, University of Rome La Sapienza, , 13-14 December 2012.