Turkey and Italy are committed to deepening their cooperation in the defense industry, the Turkish president said on Tuesday.
Strengthening bilateral defense cooperation serves mutual interests and the two countries agree on this, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a press conference in the capital Ankara alongside Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
The Turkish President said that Ankara and Rome are ready to sign an agreement on the SAMP/T air defense system project as soon as possible.
“We discussed the issue again at our meeting today, and our Defense Ministers treated it in the same way. We want to sign the SAMP/T as soon as possible. no problem in our agreement. We also have an agreement with (French President Emmanuel) Macron.”
Ahead of the press conference, Turkey and Italy signed nine cooperation agreements in several fields, including defence, trade, diplomacy and development.
The two leaders also discussed Turkey-EU relations, Erdogan said.
“I would like to say that I thanked Draghi for Italy’s support in improving our relations with the union.
“Developments in our region have demonstrated concretely once again that Turkey is important in many areas for the EU,” he added.
The Russian-Ukrainian war was also on the agenda of the meeting between Erdogan and Draghi.
“We discussed the resumption of the negotiation process between Russia and Ukraine and the UN plan to export Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea,” said the Turkish leader.
Irregular migrants are a threat to Italy
On Greece’s pushback of irregular migrants, Erdogan said Athens posed a threat to Italy rather than the EU with its efforts to force migrants away from its borders.
“All these irregular migrations are now trying to take refuge in Italy. We are also doing our best to save these people in the seas. But Italy is also facing the same problem,” he said.
Human rights groups and mainstream media have frequently reported unlawful pushbacks and other human rights abuses by Greek authorities.
Turkey and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
Italy seeks cooperation with Turkey to meet challenges
The Italian Prime Minister, for his part, said: “We are facing great challenges, starting with the war in Ukraine, and we want to work together to overcome them.”
Turkey and Italy are united in condemning Russia’s war against Ukraine and expressing support for Kyiv, he said.
“At the same time, we are on the front line to seek a negotiated solution that could end hostilities and guarantee a stable and lasting peace,” he added.
Draghi thanked Türkiye for his mediating role in unblocking grain exports from Ukraine.
“We must release these (exports) as soon as possible to avoid a humanitarian and social catastrophe in the world’s poorest countries,” he said.
The Prime Minister also said that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, at the Group of Seven (G7) summit last month in Germany, explained a plan the UN is working on which “includes a role central” for Turkey.
Regarding the Libyan crisis, Draghi said stabilization in the North African country is crucial and a priority for Italy and Turkey.
“We agreed that we must do everything possible to bring stability to Libya. To this end, we have decided to work closely together,” he said.
On the issue of migration, Draghi said its management should be “humane and efficient”.
“But we cannot be open without limits. We are probably the country that has been the most open so far. But we also have limits, and now we have come to this.
Turkish President and Italian Prime Minister attend a concert
Later that evening, Erdogan and Draghi attended a special concert organized by the Presidential Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on behalf of the Turkey-Italy Intergovernmental Summit.
In memory of the concert, Erdogan presented Draghi with the notes of the Mecidiye March composed by Italian musician Giuseppe Donizetti, also known as Donizetti Pasha in the Ottoman Empire, for Sultan Abdülmecid and used as the national anthem of the Ottoman Empire between 1839-1861. .
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