Turkey and Italy, two regional heavyweights, have agreed to work together for the stability of the Mediterranean Sea amid the unfolding Libya conflict and ongoing spat over hydrocarbon activities, both sources of tension with multiple actors, including Turkey and France in rival camps.
Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini paid a one-day visit to Ankara on July 7 for talks with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on a wide range of issues, the ongoing armed conflict in Libya being atop of them. Guerini’s visit comes after Akar’s crucial visit to Libya where Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) forces are advancing towards the strategic town of Sirte.
“Let me say this: We are talking about Italy and Turkey, two big and important countries in the Mediterranean region. We believe that the effective cooperation between the two countries in all areas, especially in the field of defense and security, both in civil and military sectors, will provide very important benefits not only for our countries but also for the whole region,” Akar said, after the meetings with Guerini.
The defense ministers of the two NATO allies have discussed Libya, Syria and eastern Mediterranean, Akar said, stressing the cooperation between the two would be beneficial for NATO, the two countries and the EU.
“We are also pleased to observe that we share common and similar views on many issues,” Akar expressed. “Therefore, we have observed that we can carry out important activities for the protection of the rights and interests of our countries when we work together.”
Turkish and Italian navies have conducted exercises in the Mediterranean in a bid to further cooperate over the ongoing regional disputes.
‘Positive, friendly meeting’
Italy’s defense chief, for his part, said that it was a “very positive and friendly meeting.”
“We shared our vision and knowledge. We did this within the framework of the friendship between Turkey and Italy. It is deep-rooted and cemented,” Guerini said.
“Especially on Libya, we once again agreed that we should produce a political solution for Libya to meet peace. Likewise, we have also shared our vision and what sort of responsibilities we should take in the eastern Mediterranean. Because we have no chance to reduce the potential tensions if we don’t do these. Therefore, we must do this,” the Italian minister stated.
The officials discussed the two countries’ visions and responsibilities to be taken regarding the eastern Mediterranean, he added.
“There is a need to overcome problems that can create concerns. For a stabilized Mediterranean, we need to work together, and we all have to shoulder responsibility,” Guerini said.
The Turkish-Italian dialogue concerning Libya and the Mediterranean has the tendency to further improve as both countries are concerned that the international support given to General Khalifa Haftar by France, Russia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt would further deepen the conflict and divide the oil-rich country.
France and Turkey are in an open struggle in Libya as the two countries are accusing each other of playing a dangerous game in the North African country. France has called the EU’s foreign minister to an urgent meeting on Turkey on July 13 after its attempt to corner Turkey at NATO was foiled.
Hurriyet Daily News