Turkey: Erdogan to visit Monti in Rome after economic summit

Bilateral summit on Friday, business mission successful

05 May, 02:15

(ANSAmed) - ISTANBUL, MAY 4 - It is time for Italy and Turkey, an emerging regional power between Europe and Asia, between Islam and the West, to work closer together on all fronts: a summit for the most important companies of the two countries was concluded today in Istanbul, and on Tuesday Turkey's conservative Islamic Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Rome for a bilateral meeting with Italian Premier Mario Monti.

The meeting in Rome - the two premiers will be accompanied by at least six ministers each - is the second between Italy and Turkey after the meeting in Izmir in 2008 between Erdogan Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister at the time. It is held the day after the 4-day economic summit in Istanbul, which was ''an extraordinary success'' according to Italian ambassador to Turkey Gianpaolo Scarante: more than 250 companies from both countries, 450 'business to business' contacts between managers to look for deals, to try to penetrate the Turkish market, to set up joint-ventures to win contracts together in the Middle East, Central Asia and East Europe. Turkish companies, thanks to the country's new and aggressive SMEs, the 'Tigers of Anatolia', are good in all these fields. Turkey has been candidate to join the EU for 20 years. The dossier proceeds very slowly but Turkey has already taken over part of European regulations, making its economy more reliable.

The country is ruled by the Islamic party led by Erdogan since 2002, giving it political stability. The Turkish economy is growing at ''Chinese'' rates: 8.5%. It is the 16th-largest global economy and aims to reach 8th place in 2023. The country has almost 80 million inhabitants (with an average age of 29), huge development programmes until 2023 and has scheduled to invest hundreds of billions in infrastructure and energy. Italian companies are already building roads, oil pipelines and hospitals in Turkey and are granted orders from neighbouring countries in alliance with Turkish companies. Italian banks have allocated 8 billion to further boost the penetration of the Turkish market, where already more than 900 Italian firms are active. In Rome, Monti and Erdogan - who will also be received by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano - are expected to confirm the good and ''healthy'' bilateral relations between the countries, Scarante specifies, and will give another impulse to economic relations, good for the Italian economy in the current difficult situation. At least three agreement are expected to be signed during the meeting, one of which on security and terrorism. Turkey is pushing to have the existing visa system revoked.

Italy, one of the countries that support Turkey's EU accession, already guarantees easy terms for Turkish businessmen. But the question is in the hands of the EU, which wants Ankara to sign a readmission agreement for illegal immigrants who cross the Turkish border to enter Greece. The only possible cloud hanging over the summit in Rome is the situation of the Turkish press.

The chairman of the Italian Press Association (FNSI), Roberto Natale, has urged Monti to ask Erdogan about the around 100 journalists currently held in Turkish prisons ''under bizarre charges like supporting terrorism." The European Commission has said that it is ''deeply concerned'' about this question.



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