Puglia is land of East-West dialogue says Emiliano

Governor visits St Petersburg to reinforce cooperation

By Mattia Bernardo Bagnoli (ANSA) - SAINT PETERSBURG, JUN 4 - The Puglia mission to St Petersburg, where it is the the only region to be an official guest at the International Economic Forum, is focused on potential investments and on more certain new partnerships, Governor Michele Emiliano told ANSA in an exclusive interview.
    The mission, headed by Emiliano, is part of a path that was embarked on 15 years ago and may now be enriched with cooperation "on the health front", especially in the neonatal field, and on the pharmaceuticals' front.
    But that is not all.
    It is clear that during a "tense time" in relations between East and West, the "diplomacy of cities and regions" can contribute to dialogue, especially if we are talking about Puglia, "Italy's most Russian" land, thanks to the connection with Saint Nicholas, the centre-left governor said.
    "Everyone has their place. We aren't getting mixed up in big geopolitical issues," Emiliano told ANSA on the fringes of the forum.
    "We are home to important NATO bases and we are true to our alliances.
    "The Americans, with whom we have excellent relations, know about our activities and, in a sense, they support them.
    "This evening the Petruzzelli theatre orchestra will perform before 40,000 people outside the Hermitage Palace.
    "It would not have been possible without the support of the Italian government, which made the vaccination of the team members possible.
    "In its way, it is a signal".
    So the Putin-Biden summit will not take place in Puglia (as Emiliano had proposed) but détente can take many forms.
    Who knows? Given that Bari is the city where the Catholic and Orthodox churches meet (the Russian church was returned to the patriarchate when Emiliano was mayor of the city) perhaps it could play host to a future meeting between the pope and Patriarch Kirill.
    "It would be a dream come true," said the governor.
    In the meantime there are concrete things to deal with.
    These include Bari-Moscow airline flights, a service that is resuming.
    Then there is the possibility that Salento-based drugmaker Lachifarma could produce one of the Russian vaccines, thanks in part to the support of the Puglia regional government.
    "The future will be about investing in facilities that are capable of tracking the evolution of this coronavirus, and of others, in order to be able to produce medicines and vaccines capable of fighting the variants," explained Emiliano.
    In short, Russia combines perfectly with the regional strategy based on "tourism, innovation and ecological transformation".
    The meetings that took place in St Petersburg (including one with Health Minister Mikhail Murashko) are giving shape to possible cooperation partnerships and investments in the new high-value-added sectors that the post-pandemic world needs, Emiliano said. (ANSA).


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