Russia-Italy: Expert discusses relationship between countries

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EU leaders’ commitment to solidarity and unity has been tested over the past 12 months of the pandemic, showing the European Union project in all its fragility.

But Covid may not be the last hurdle for the bloc as EU leaders are expected to clash on future projects already dividing some nations.

Canadian historian David R. Marples pointed, first of all, at the Nord Stream pipeline project, which has already divided Germany and other EU nations.

Moreover, the future relationship between the EU and Russia will become a reason for more tensions as some member states call for more cooperation with their eastern neighbour whilst others are still reluctant to accept Vladimir Putin.

Mr Marples told the Tehran Times: “I think the key problems are populism and reaching a consensus on issues like the Nord Stream pipeline, which has divided Germany and some of the others.

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EU news: Von der Leyen was warned more hurdle are set to jeopardise the EU after Covid (Image: GETTY)

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EU news: Relations between Russia and the bloc will be crucial, says Marples (Image: GETTY)

“Hungary is embracing a policy of open illiberalism. In Poland, the Law and Justice Party have reached an impasse over the question of abortion.

“There is also the question of new members and the limits of European expansion. Should the EU stop where it is?

“Should Turkey finally be accepted?

“Should Ukraine, Belarus, and other neighbouring countries be considered long-term members? And, if so, what about Russia?

READ MORE: Denmark told it must curtail bloc or face ‘political stalemate’

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EU news: ‘Hungary is embracing a policy of open illiberalism’, says Marples (Image: GETTY)

“Is the EU a rival of Russia or could the two work together?

“I would say that in 2021 this outcome seems unlikely, but it is not inconceivable given that geographically, the industrialised part of Russia lies in Europe.”

With President Putin signing a new law last week that could keep him in office until 2036, future cooperation between the Communist country and the EU will be a subject hard to avoid.

The legislation allows President Putin to run for two more six-year terms once his current stint ends in 2024.

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EU news: Vladimir Putin signed a law that could see him in power until 2036 (Image: GETTY)

It follows changes to the constitution last year.

Those changes were backed in a public vote last summer and could allow Putin, 68, to potentially remain in power until the age of 83.

He is currently serving his second consecutive term as president and his fourth in total.

The reform, which critics cast as a constitutional coup, was packaged with an array of other amendments that were expected to garner popular support, such as one bolstering pension protections.

The law signed by Putin limits any future president to two terms in office, but resets his term count.

It prevents anyone who has held foreign citizenship from running for the Kremlin.

The legislation was passed in the lower and upper houses of parliament last month.

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Daily Express

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