Türkiye and Italy are committed to deepening cooperation in the defense industry, the Turkish president said Tuesday.
Boosting bilateral defense cooperation serves mutual interests and both countries are on the same page about it, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said at a news conference in the capital Ankara alongside Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
The Turkish president said Ankara and Rome are willing to sign an agreement as soon as possible on the SAMP/T air defense system project.
"We discussed the issue again in our meeting today, and our defense ministers handled it in the same way. We want to sign the SAMP/T as soon as possible. There is no problem in our agreement. We also have an agreement with (French President Emmanuel) Macron."
Ahead of the news conference, Türkiye and Italy signed nine cooperation agreements in several areas including defense, trade, diplomacy and development.
The two leaders also discussed Türkiye-EU relations, said Erdoğan.
"I would like to state that I thanked Draghi for Italy's support for further improvement of our relationship with the union.
"The developments in our region have concretely demonstrated once again that Türkiye is important in many fields for the EU," he added.
The Russia-Ukraine war was also an agenda item of the meeting between Erdoğan and Draghi.
"We exchanged views on the return to the negotiation process between Russia and Ukraine and the UN plan for the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea," said the Turkish leader.
'IRREGULAR MIGRANTS ARE A THREAT TO ITALY'
On Greece's pushback of irregular migrants, Erdoğan said Athens poses a threat to Italy rather than the EU with its efforts to force migrants away from its borders.
"All these irregular migrations are now trying to take shelter in Italy. We are also trying our best to save these people in the seas. But Italy is also facing the same problem," he said.
Human rights groups and leading media outlets have frequently reported on illegal pushbacks and other human rights breaches by Greek authorities.
Türkiye and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
ITALY SEEKS COOPERATION WITH TÜRKİYE TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES
The Italian prime minister, for his part, said: "We're facing great challenges, starting from the war in Ukraine, and we want to work together to address them."
Türkiye and Italy are united in condemning Russia's war on Ukraine and voicing support for Kyiv, he said.
"At the same time, we are on the frontline to seek a negotiated solution that could halt hostilities and guarantee a stable and long-lasting peace," he added.
Draghi thanked Türkiye for its mediation role in unblocking grain exports from Ukraine.
"We need to free these (exports) as soon as possible to avoid a humanitarian and social catastrophe in the poorest countries of the world," he said.
The premier also said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the Group of Seven (G7) summit last month in Germany explained a plan on which the UN is working which "foresees a central role" for Türkiye.
On the Libyan crisis, Draghi said stabilization in the North African country is crucial and a priority for Italy and Türkiye.
"We have agreed that we need to do whatever is possible to bring back stability in Libya. To that purpose, we have decided to work very closely together," he said.
On the migration issue, Draghi said its management has to be "humane and effective."
"But we cannot be open without limits. We are probably the country that up to now has been the most open. But we also have some limits, and now we've gotten to that point.
TURKISH PRESIDENT, ITALIAN PREMIER ATTEND CONCERT
Later in the evening, Erdoğan and Draghi attended a special concert organized by the Presidential Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on behalf of the Türkiye-Italy Intergovernmental Summit.
In memory of the concert, Erdoğan presented Draghi with the notes of the Mecidiye March composed by Italian musician Giuseppe Donizetti, also known as Donizetti Pasha in the Ottoman Empire, for Sultan Abdülmecid and used as the national anthem of the Ottoman Empire between 1839-1861.