Throughout the Libyan crisis and the Turkish involvement in it, Italy was the European country that maintained the greatest degree of alliance with Turkish positions.
Italy, a country with a colonial past in Libya, maintained good relations with the internationally recognized Libyan government, the “Government of National Accord” based in Tripoli, among others, in the framework of cooperation to prevent the arrival of immigrants in Italy. beach.
This brought it closer to Turkey, which was the force that primarily supported the Tripoli side in the Libyan civil war.
But Italy maintains good relations with Turkey on other levels as well. Last July, the two countries held joint naval high schools in the Mediterranean. Italy’s choice to do so was in contrast to the choice of other European countries that had strongly objected to Turkey’s aggressive moves in the Southeastern Mediterranean and the questioning of the sovereign rights of Greece and the Republic of Cyprus over the continental shelf, the EE and mining rights.
The strengthening of economic relations
Recently the Turkish news agency Anatolia announced that in the period January – November 2020, the amount of foreign direct investment in Turkey was $ 4.6 billion.
Most of these investments came from Europe, reaching $ 3.3 billion or 70.8% of total direct investment in Turkey.
If we look at the data by country, we will see that Italy is clearly ahead, with 970 million dollars of direct investment in Turkey, followed by the USA with 769 million dollars and then the Netherlands with 491 million dollars.
In any case, Turkey and Italy have important economic relations. In 2018, Italian exports to Turkey reached $ 9.6 billion and imports $ 10.1 billion, before falling slightly in 2019 to $ 9.3 and $ 8.6 billion respectively.
In 2019, Italy was the fourth most popular destination for Turkish exports after Germany, the United Kingdom and Iraq.
About 1,500 Italian companies are active in Turkey while Turkey remains high in the tourist preferences of Italians, with the arrivals of Italian tourists in Turkey to increase in 2019 to 365,000.
The Turkish government wants to significantly increase bilateral trade from about $ 20 billion a year today to $ 30 billion. This was stated by the Minister of International Trade of Turkey, Ruhsar Pekcan, last December.
From economics to geopolitics
Improved economic relations are one of the reasons why Italy is one of the European countries that is cautious on issues such as sanctions against Turkey, as opposed to countries like France that are more aggressive.
This was evident at the EU Summit last December, when Italy, along with Germany and Spain, were among the countries that had prevented tougher sanctions.
This point was also highlighted by the Greek Foreign Minister Mr. Nikos Dendias during his meeting on January 13 with his Italian counterpart Luigi di Maio
“I think it is extremely useful to have a constant and honest exchange of views with Italy. I also made it clear to him that despite the fact that we respect their decision and their attitude, the Greek side would like a stronger Italian support in the issue of sanctions “, noted among others Nikos Dendias in his statement after his meeting with Di Maio.
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