Italy's Frattini: "Turkey's place is definitively in Europe"
Speaking ahead of the Seventh Turkish-Italian Forum set to start in Rome today, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini over the weekend said Turkey's place is unconditionally in Europe. Stating that he would meet with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu during the forum, Frattini said Turkey and Italy enjoy strong, solid ties in areas ranging from culture to trade and industry. Reiterating Italy's unwavering support for Turkey's European Union accession bid, Frattini said, "Besides being NATO allies, we have shared interests in other areas as well. Turkey can serve as a bridge between Europe and the Muslim world." Turkey and the EU need each other, Frattini said, adding that the negotiation process between Ankara and the 27-member block should not be hindered for political reasons. "Turkey's eventual full membership in the EU is a win-win situation," he argued. "Turkey's place is unconditionally in Europe." Saying that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan values Turkey's EU membership bid and sees it as strategic choice, Frattini said, "Recent developments in Turkish foreign policy stem from the country's incredible economic growth. Europe shouldn't fear Turkey's changing foreign policy." On Turkey's rising clout in the region, Frattini said, "Turkey can play a lasting role in the Middle East, which is why we support Turkey seeking dialogue with Iran. Italy wants dialogue as well. In a globalized world, everyone needs each other." Stating that Italy has good relations with both Turkey and Israel, Frattini also said his country stands ready to help reestablish dialogue between the two countries, whose relations suffered following Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters in May, killing nine Turkish peace activists.