The relationship between Italy and Türkiye is already "very good, it is standing on a very sound path," Italy's ambassador to Türkiye told Anadolu Agency.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, Giorgio Marrapodi underlined that the two countries have reached "an important, stunning goal" of $23 billion in mutual trade.
Noting that they are happy over reaching this goal, Marrapodi said it's time now to set a new target as Rome and Ankara can grow more and "build on this result."
"Because the work between the Turkish business community and the Italian business community is very positive. We have important investments in Türkiye and there are important Turkish companies which are investing in Italy and in the Italian economic sector," he said.
The envoy emphasized that there is currently a growing number of Turkish students who are choosing Italy as a destination for their studies, while this is similarly the case with Italian students who choose Turkish universities to study at.
"My commitment is to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries in order to reach new goals. And these should be also in line with what we have always done in the framework of the EU perspective of Türkiye," said Marrapodi.
"Italy has always been on the side of Ankara in this sector, and we have strongly supported Türkiye since the very beginning of the accession process," he added.
Türkiye has been an EU candidate country since 1999. Negotiations for full membership started in October 2005 but have stalled in recent years due to political hurdles erected by some countries, according to Türkiye.
Italy-Türkiye Intergovernmental Summit
Noting that the third Italy-Türkiye Intergovernmental Summit will be held soon during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to Türkiye, Marrapodi recalled that the last such meeting was held around 10 years ago.
"It was time for a new meeting at the highest level," he said, adding there have been frequent "contacts" at the top and ministerial levels on several occasions.
He also expressed hope that the intergovernmental summit would help "collect the fruits of what we have worked on over the last months."
Marrapodi said the international agenda will be discussed by the two leaders along with the war in Ukraine and many regional issues related to peace and stability.
"We hope that this will be an occasion where we can take stock of the results that we have achieved in a lot in all fields and how we can work for new results in the future," he added.
He also noted that some important cross-sectoral issues such as food security, climate change and renewable energy might be discussed by the two leaders and by the ministers attending the intergovernmental summit.
The cooperation in the defense sector is a "very important" aspect of the bilateral relationship, Marrapodi said, noting it is "clearly shown by the excellent results achieved together" by Turkish and Italian companies operating in this field.
Italy has always seen Türkiye as a strategic partner for industrial cooperation, he said.
Marrapodi recalled that during the last meeting of Draghi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of NATO meetings in Brussels on the Ukraine war it was stated that Italy is ready to contribute to strengthening the joint industrial cooperation between Rome and Ankara together with other partners of the NATO alliance. ?
"I also think that NATO is the cornerstone of our collective security and Italy's contribution to NATO’s defense is fundamental to the organization's success, and we go from policing the airspace over Eastern Europe to patrolling the Mediterranean," he said.
Italy devotes significant military and human resources to the alliance, he added.
"From a strategic point of view, Italy and Türkiye share a common vision on security issues and are strongly committed to international stability and peace by closely cooperating in the NATO framework. The unique position in the Mediterranean region makes Italy and Türkiye crucial actors to help secure the defense of NATO’s southern flank," Marrapodi added.
'Russian aggression against Ukraine'
Speaking on Russia's war on Ukraine, Marrapodi said the Italian position is "clear," as his country condemned "from the very beginning the Russian aggression on Ukraine," which Draghi defined as "unjustified, unjustifiable and unprovoked aggression."
Italy is close to the Ukrainian people in this "dramatic moment," and Rome is working with the European partners and with NATO allies to "respond with unity and determination," he added.
The envoy highlighted that Italy has always supported the facilitation efforts put in place by Türkiye in order to bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table as a facilitator of dialogue between the two countries.
He also hailed the idea of a cease-fire, cooperation and the possibility of opening corridors in the Black Sea for the export of cereals.
"Italy is supporting, is backing the efforts of the adviser of the United Nations Secretary General in Libya, Stephanie Williams, to reach an agreement with all political parties," he said.
This will be very important to maintain security and stability, he stressed.
Italy supports the efforts to carry out parliamentary and presidential elections according to the "correct constitutional path," said envoy.
"Stability in Libya is very important, is crucial for the stability of all the Mediterranean area," he added.
Source: Anadolu Agency