Home » Delving into Rome’s outlook on Ankara’s EU accession

Delving into Rome’s outlook on Ankara’s EU accession

PM Meloni remains cool on the prospect of Turkey entering the Union, although it’s keen to cooperate on shared dossiers across the enlarged Mediterranean

Talking Turkey. On Thursday, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani took part in the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting – which, among other things, focussed on Ankara’s relationship with Brussels. These talks followed Turkey’s decision to greenlight Sweden’s NATO accession in exchange for rekindling dialogue on its own EU accession process.

  • Exiting the meeting, FM Tajani told journalists that Ankara’s move was “an important signal,” noted its importance for the Alliance and remarked on the need to discuss its EU integration “with a positive spirit” to “rebuild [the relation].”
  • He also remarked on the healthy economic exchange between Italy and Turkey – which is the top recipient of individual defence export licences from Italy, coming in just shy of €600 million in 2022.

What happened in Vilnius. Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, met for an hour with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO Summit – shortly after the EU accession matter came into focus. She also stressed the two countries would “continue [their] strong cooperation,” but noted its accession was “not exactly a priority” and further away compared to other, more pressing matters.

There’s a focus on cooperation… When FM Tajani met with his Turkish counterpart in late June (on the sidelines of the Ukraine Reconstruction Conference in London), he too highlighted the will to bolster economic ties and strengthen cooperation – including on Libya and overall Mediterranean stability and security.

  • In Vilnius, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto met with his Turkish counterpart, Yasar Guler, and discussed military cooperation as well as the stability of the Mediterranean and the Alliance’s Southern Flank.
  • That remains one of the key threads in the Rome-Ankara dialogue, with Italy successfully pushing the Allies to look South – where Turkey’s role as a regional power is crucial.

… but treading lightly on EU accession. During her speech at the European Political Community summit in Chisinau, PM Meloni had stressed that Italy supported “the path that Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia [and] the Western Balkans are taking towards EU membership” – with Turkey remaining conspicuously absent.

  • On the one hand, she appears to have muted her historic stance on Ankara’s accession (which she strongly opposed before she became PM) in favour of a propositive approach of cooperation on shared dossiers.
    • Her government’s MENA outreach holds Turkey in great regard, and its members’ words on cooperation are indicative of a broadening effort on shared dossiers, such as energy, security, and migration.
  • On the other hand, her cautiousness on the accession matter – which is far from uncommon across NATO countries – underscores the political distance that stands between Ankara and a sure-fire European future.

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