Duvar English – Anadolu Agency
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 8 held a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, in a first contact between the two leaders after Draghi's calling Erdoğan a “dictator” in April.
According to a statement released by the Turkish Presidency, the phone talk was held at Draghi's request. Erdoğan told Draghi that Turkey expects NATO ally Italy to respond appropriately to the importance it attaches to bilateral relations, Erdoğan's office said.
Noting that the bilateral trade volume between the two countries in the first seven months of 2021 approached $13 billion and exceeded the level before the coronavirus pandemic, Erdoğan said if they accelerate this momentum, they can easily reach the $30 billion target.
Erdoğan emphasized that he believes Italy's principled support for the development of Turkey-EU relations and the membership process will continue strongly and added that it was in everyone's interest to start negotiations on the update of the Customs Union as soon as possible, without any preconditions.
He also stressed that with Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban, a new situation has arisen in the field and that engagement with the Taliban should be continued at the point of delivering humanitarian aid, as otherwise, the pressure on migration, which has already reached high levels, would increase even more.
Draghi invited Erdoğan to the G20 Leaders' Summit to be held in Rome in October, which will be chaired by Italy.
Draghi's office also released a written statement with regards to the meeting, saying the Italian premier discussed the Afghan crisis with Erdoğan.
The "comprehensive" phone conversation explored possible steps to be taken by the international community, including the G20, over Afghanistan and Draghi renewed an invitation to Erdoğan to take part in the Rome Summit, it said.
The situation in Libya and a further strengthening of Italian-Turkish partnerships across sectors were also discussed, it said.
The phone talk was the first contact between the two leaders since April 8 when Draghi called Erdoğan a “dictator” and criticized him for relegating European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to a sofa during an official visit.
In response, Erdoğan accused Draghi of behaving with “impertinence and disrespect,” saying Draghi's remark had damaged bilateral relations.