Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi discussed the alliance between Italy and Turkey and the strengthening of bilateral cooperation at an intergovernmental summit in Ankara after a year of diplomatic tensions.
On Tuesday, the summit, ten years after the last one, marked the signing of nine cooperation agreements between the two countries, including in strategic areas such as sustainable development and defence.
This marks an improvement in bilateral relations between the two countries, which bottomed out after April 2021; Draghi said it was important to be candid with “dictators” about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, drawing condemnation from Ankara.
“We discussed an agreement to deepen defense cooperation,” Erdogan told reporters at a joint press conference with Draghi in Ankara. He added that Turkey is counting on Italy to fight against terrorism.
Turkey is NATO’s top export partner for the Italian defense industry, and collaboration with Ankara is also crucial for Rome on Libyan and migration issues.
On migration, Erdogan mentioned continued cooperation. But migration management “must be humane and efficient,” Draghi said. Italy’s doors are open, “but the country has reached the limit”, he added.
In 2021, the number of irregular migrants arriving in Italy via Turkey more than tripled.
The Turkish president then accused Greece of rejecting migrants in the Aegean Sea, saying “Greece has also started to be a threat to Italy”.
The two leaders underlined their joint efforts for a solution to the war in Ukraine and the food crisis.
“Italy and Turkey are on the front line for a stable and lasting peace in Ukraine” and are united “in condemning the Russian invasion and supporting Kyiv,” Draghi said.