How many years have you been in Russia?
Since 1988, I like it very much here. I like the work, everything. As you know, things are very difficult in Italy now because of the crisis and so on. Here I have a lot of very interesting work to do, especially in my work at the Chamber of Commerce, because we work with very many people, with different backgrounds and jobs.
How did you get involved with the CCIR?
I worked with a large industrial furniture group here in Moscow, and was head hunted by the CCIR when the previous director left. It was a really interesting proposal, not for money, because as you know, the chamber of commerce is not a commercial organisation.
How long has the CCIR existed here in Russia? What is its main mission?
The CCIR has existed here for 50 years. Its main mission is to improve the commercial relationship between the two countries. Basically, we work for our members. We are a private association, but recognised by both governments. We have about 400 members; half of them are Russian, and half Italian. I think it is really good that we are not all Italian. Of course some of our Russian members work with Italian companies, or represent Italian firms. We perform a lot of services for our members, such as visa support both for Italian and Russian applicants. We have arrangements with 10 very good hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and help organise the activities of the âOspitalitÃ Italianaâ for example. We organise trade missions for Italians companies to Russian provinces, and we actively work with international fairs in Italy, especially the exhibitions in Verona, Milan, and Bologna, so we have a lot of different activities. We work very much on a B to B level with our members. Our members very often write to us to solve different problems. We always try to help them.
At the moment, how do you look at the Italian-Russian trade situation?
The situation is very sad, because I think, and not only me, all of the Italian entrepreneurs in Russia think that the sanctions are not a good idea at all, that there are other ways to solve these problems. Our president has given several interviews on this subject.
What are Italian business people in Moscow going to do? Will they have to leave Moscow?
In this situation, I think they will stay in Russia. Of course it is a difficult period, even if they have not been affected by the sanctions, the rouble exchange rate is very high, plus making bank transfers are becoming more difficult, for this reason, of course itâs a difficult time. We attend every international exhibition, there are about 15 a year, and participation levels are the same as last year more or less. But everyone says that there are no new clients, only old clients with limited budgets. Basically we are telling everyone not to panic.
To find out more about CCIR, see: Â www.ccir.it/ccir/