First Veneto, now Liguria, next Lombardy: Italian regions revolt against anti-Russian policies


June 30, 2016 – 

By Eduard Popov for Fort Russ

Translated by J. Arnoldski

On June 29th, the regional council of Liguria, Italy adopted a resolution urging the national government to condemn the EU’s policy towards Crimea and seek the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions. 26 out of 31 of the regional council’s members voted for the document. The resolution authorizes the chairman of the Liguria regional council and the head of the region to actively work with the Italian government, parliament, and EU institutions to reconsider relations between EU and Russia. In addition, the document contains an appeal to the Italian government “to call on the EU to change its stance on the issue of Crimea,” thus demanding that the will expressed by the people and parliament of Crimea in the referendum be recognized. 

Liguria is already the second region in Italy to recognize the peninsula as part of Russia. The “pioneer” among Italian regions was the regional council of Veneto, which on May 18th adopted a resolution that served as the model for the one adopted on June 29th in Luguria. The next such vote is schedule to be held in the parliament of the Lombardy region on July 5th. 

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The draft resolution was developed in late May by representatives of the Northern League, Forward, Italy!, and Brothers of Italy – National Alliance parties, which make up the ruling coalition in Liguria. However, the main initiator of these resolutions has been the Northern League party, one of the most dynamic of Europe’s “anti-mainstream” parties. The party has a majority in the regional parliament of Veneto (35%) and Lombardy (24%). Northern League represents the interests of the rich and industrialized regions of Northern Italy which have suffered the main losses from anti-Russian (and responsive anti-European) sanctions. According to the leader of the Northern League party’s regional organization, Edoardo Rixi, in Liguria alone the damage done to Italian entrepreneurs by the sanctions amounts to 200-300 million Euros a year. The Northern League’s deputy of the regional council of Lombardy, Paolo Grimoldi, estimates the total losses of the Italian economy from the anti-Russian sanctions at 3.7 billion euros, 80% of the losses being suffered by Italy’s northern regions. 

The regional councils’ resolutions have established good chances for the issues of recognizing Crimea as part of Russia and the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions to be brought up in the national parliament of Italy. This will raise the struggle of Europeans for their own interests to a higher level. However, not even national parliaments are the organs which make such decisions. Any decisions on ending the sanctions regime are taken by those governments which are tightly controlled by the ruling pro-American mainstream. The US’ functioning mechanisms of hegemony in the European Union allow adverse risks to Washington in the form of votes in national parliaments or national referendums to be minimized. It is therefore hardly worth expecting any breakthrough decisions from the French Senate (which on June 8th voted for easing the sanctions against Russia) or the parliaments of Italy (whether regional or national).

These decisions are mainly of an important informational and psychological character. The ruling US establishment and the EU’s outright ignoring of such illustrates European countries’ loss of sovereignty and the resultant strengthening of anti-American and anti-Brussiels moods. All of this is working to strengthen the anti-mainstream in European politics. 

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