Tomorrow, May 1, 170 of the most important Italian companies and banks will arrive in Istanbul for a meeting with Turkish business leaders, looking for investment and cooperation opportunities. On May 8, Turkey's moderate Islamic Premier Rercep Tayyip Erdogan will be in Rome with part of his government for a bilateral summit with Mario Monti and the Italian government, the second after the summit in Izmir held in November 2008 with Italian prime minister at the time Silvio Berlusconi. Moreover, Italian ambassador to Turkey Gianpaolo Scarante revealed that Turkey's President Abdullah Gul will visit Italy in November of this year.
The ties between the two countries are getting closer while Turkey does not hide its ambition to become an important player on the economic and political stage, not only on a regional but also on a global level. Turkey, the second-largest NATO army, could become a future regional 'gendarme' (based on its Ottoman past according to the Turkish press). The country wants to be a 'model' for those Muslim countries that are coming out of the Arab Spring, and Turkey's companies are focusing on the new markets in central-eastern Europe, the Balkan area and Central Asia. "It does not have the risks of a developing country," explains Scarante, "because the country is already developed in practice." The economy of Turkey - with a young population of almost 80 million inhabitants - ranks 16th worldwide and aims to rise to 8th place in the coming ten years, boosted by its aggressive SME, the 'Anatolian Tigers', which draw their inspiration from entrepreneurs in the north-east of Italy.
The economic summit in Istanbul, from May 1 to 4, is attended by the Italian Trade Commission (ICE), Confindustria, Abi and Unioncamere, with the support of the Italian government. The goal of the Italian mission is to conquer a larger share of the Turkish market - where already 920 Italian firms are active - and explore opportunities for collaboration with local companies. According to Economic Development Undersecretary Massimo Vari, who leads the Italian delegation, "the situation is right for our companies to make use of the huge potential Turkey has to offer." The Turkish market, according to the president of Italian Manufacturers' AssociationConfindustria, Emma Marcegaglia, is "very interesting for Italian business, both as investment opportunity and as export market for Italian products." Companies from both countries "can achieve important goals on the Middle East and Central Asian markets." But there are some clouds hanging over Turkey's rapid economic expansion, with the country's EU accession going very slowly, with more turmoil expected in July when Cyprus takes over EU presidency.
In fact, inflation has risen over 10% again, and there are tensions in Turkey's relations with several of its neighbours, like Syria, Iraq and Israel.
And the international press as expressed concerns over the arrests of many journalists in the country. Currently a hundred reporters are held in Turkish prisons. (ANSAmed).