Russia’s Ruling Party Strikes Cooperation Deal With Italian Euroskeptics

Matteo Salvini
Northern League party leader Matteo Salvini speaks on stage during a rally in downtown Rome February 28, 2015. Max Rossi/Reuters

Russia’s ruling United Russia party has struck a deal with Italy’s Euroskeptic Northern League, months after Austria’s far-right Austrian People’s Party (FPO) did the same.

United Russia’s deputy leader, Sergei Zheleznyak said his party believed that “most of the problems that exist in Europe and in the world require dialogue” and the cooperation agreement intended to bring about discussion.

“Through that, our parties can show other political forces an example of how to take responsibility for the implementation of international cooperation,” Zheleznyak said in a signing meeting with Northern League leader Matteo Salvini.

Salvini, who arrived in Moscow on Monday, posted images from the singing, before reportedly holding a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Zheleznyak said that as part of the deal the party would act as an interlocutor on behalf of the Italian party and pass their suggestions on entrepreneurship to the Russian Chamber of Commerce, a United Russia statement said.

Russia’s ruling party has already struck one such cooperation agreement with another Euroskeptic party - Austria’s FPO - last December. The five year deal includes an agreement to hold joint policy consultations, exchange of experience of legislative work, work towards development of economic ties and “party building”. The agreed to hold joint conferences, seminars and round tables.

Pro-EU political forces across Europe have long expressed repeated concern that Russia is backing fringe forces that oppose the union’s integrity and existence. Moscow has argued it does not interfere in foreign politics.