Rome and Ankara have decided to develop joint ventures to increase trade and “explore development opportunities”, including in third countries. Italy has confirmed its “strong and convinced support” for Turkey’s entry to the European Union not least because, in the words of Italian Premier Mario Monti, “Turkey is capable of integration with the EU and of bringing an economic, geopolitical, strategic and cultural added value to the Union”. These were two of the key points to emerge from the Italian-Turkish summit that has taken place at Villa Madama in Rome. The Summit was preceded by a meeting at the Quirinal Palace between the Head of State, Giorgio Napolitano, and the Turkish Premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Trade between Italy and Turkey is already high, at over 21 billion dollars per year, “but we’re convinced that trade volumes have the potential to grow considerably”, said Monti at the end of his meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Erdogan. As regards the EU’s expansion to include Turkey, the Italian Premier confirmed Italy’s support for the country’s accession. He underscored that it could act as “an important example for a Europe that has reached a high degree of institutional excellence and very strong integration and as such sets an example for the world”. At the same time, however, Europe is “demographically ageing, tired, and lacking in economic drive and enthusiasm”. The Turkish Premier said he was determined to continue on the road to Ankara’s accession to the European Union.
An annual growth rate of 8.5%
Turkey is growing at an annual rate of 8.5%. The country is already the world’s 16th economy and aims to become its 8th over the next 10 years, with annual pro capita income of 25,000 euros. Turkey has nearly 80 million inhabitants, a figure set to rise to 100 million in 10 years time, and is 3 times the size of Italy. Italian investment there began 50 years ago, with FIAT and Pirelli paving the way. Now, more than 900 Italian enterprises are operating in Turkey and Italy is Ankara’s 4th commercial partner, with trade amounting to 21.3 billion dollars in 2011 (up 28%). Turkey has enormous investment projects worth hundreds of billions in the pipeline and up until 2023, including in infrastructure and the energy sector.
The plenary session of the Summit was preceded by bilateral meetings between the two heads of government and the ministers in their delegations. The event closed with the signing of a number of bilateral agreements.