A conversation with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Welcome Remarks by Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, IAI President; Chair: Asli Selin Okyay, IAI Senior fellow
“Turkey and the European Union need to rebuild mutual confidence”, to recreate the positive atmosphere that has been challenged by phenomena such as irregular migration and terrorism, and “poisoned” by the spread of negative tendencies, particularly the rise of extremism. “Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Christianophobia and antisemitism are undermining the core values of Europe and its institutions”.
The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, gave a speech at a meeting organized by the Institute of International Affairs in Rome. Ankara, the Minister pointed out, is playing its part to tackle these challenges. On migration, in particular, “Turkey has been fulfilling its agreements with the European Union, hosting more than 3 million refugees in its territory”. In return, he added, “we expect the EU to meet its promises and pledges”.
On the eve of the Brussels summit, Çavuşoğlu also made a point on NATO: “Turkey will encourage the Alliance to join our efforts in fighting terrorist organizations. But all of them, not only Da’esh. Defeating Da’esh is essential, but there are also other groups threatening NATO allies”.
Implementing the roadmap agreed upon by the allies in the Wales and Warsaw summits is also a priority. One of the main obligations of NATO members is to invest at least 2% of their gross domestic product in defense. “Turkey – the Minister said - is doing its best to meet these criteria”.
The purpose of Çavuşoğlu’s visit was to participate in the event organized by IAI and to meet the representatives of main Italian institutions. The visit coincided with that of US President Donald Trump in Rome. “Even though Trump is in Rome, I had meetings with Prime Minster Paolo Gentiloni, Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and also President Sergio Mattarella: that shows how good Turkey-Italy relations are”.
Italy, the Minister emphasized, is one of Turkey’s closest partners and also its third largest trade partner: “our trade volume is around 18 billion dollars, and we aim to reach the 30 billion dollar target by 2020”.
According to Çavuşoğlu, bilateral cooperation in many areas is excellent, particularly in the economy, defense and culture. But what is even more important - he added - is that the two partners “share the will and determination to further enhance their cooperation in every area”.