Turkish, Italian defence chiefs hold ‘constructive’ talks
ISTANBUL: Turkey’s defence minister has said that he had “constructive” talks with the visiting Italian counterpart in the capital Ankara.
“We had a rather sincere, constructive meeting with the (Italian) minister. We exchanged views on our countries, NATO, and region,” Hulusi Akar told reporters after meeting Lorenzo Guerini on Tuesday.
Akar said they also discussed Libya, Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean.
“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,” he said.
The Turkish official also said that the cooperation 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.
‘Political solution for Libya’
Italy’s defence 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,” he underlined.
The officials discussed the two countries’ visions and responsibilities to be taken regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, he added.
“For a stabilised Mediterranean, we need to work together and we all have to shoulder responsibility,” Guerini said.
Guerini’s visit to Turkey came shortly after Akar and Turkish Chief of General Staff General Yasar Guler returned from an official visit to Libya last week.
Disagreement over Libya
Turkey, with the second largest military in NATO, backs the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya’s conflict while rival warlord Khalifa Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France and Russia.
Relations between some NATO members have soured over the Libya as Turkey has accused France of backing Haftar who aims to topple the UN-backed government.
Paris denies this and accused Turkish warships of aggressive behaviour in a June 10 incident when a French frigate under NATO command tried to inspect a cargo ship suspected of smuggling arms to Libya in violation of a UN embargo.
Over the France’s accusations, NATO investigated the incident and did not confirm Elysee’s claims which led Paris to withdraw from Operation Sea Guardian in Mediterranean.
The European Union recognises the GNA but there are differences between member states. Italy, whose state-controlled oil and gas major Eni is the biggest foreign oil producer in Libya, has sent troops to train GNA security forces.
European countries worry about Libya because of its energy supplies and – given its chronic disorder – its role as a major source of undocumented migration to Europe.