Praising Turkey as 'trustworthy partner', Italian FM pushes opening of energy chapter
Hailing Turkey as a "strategic country" and "trustworthy partner," Italy said on Friday that it wants to reinvigorate Turkey's European Union membership negotiations through opening the energy chapter. Speaking after the Turkish-Italian Friendship Association honored him with its Turkey in Europe award, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, a staunch supporter of Turkey's EU bid, said his country is working for the energy chapter to be opened under the current Belgian rotating term presidency before year's-end. Frattini described the prize, awarded by the group's head Giorgio Zappa, as "recognition for the input given by the Italian government to smoothing Turkey's road into Europe." Frattini called Turkey a country of strategic importance as a partner for security and a player in the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Caucasian regions, and a trustworthy partner for facing up to challenges such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation, as well as a very active NATO member. Urging the need to open the energy chapter, Frattini said this would be a significant step since Turkey is a hub for infrastructure projects in which Italy is involved. Frattini stressed that his country has for some time been promoting an informal group of pro-Turkey nations to "crystallize" support for Ankara's EU accession. Decrying the hurdles placed by certain nations, Frattini said that Turkey's road to Europe, especially following the recent successful referendum on a constitutional reform package, must not be blocked.