Bilateral Relations

Turkish and Italian defense ministers discuss developments in Libya and East Med

Daily Sabah – Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar met with his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini on Friday to discuss the developments in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Paying an official visit to Italy, Akar was welcomed with a military ceremony at the country’s defense ministry. The visit continued with a private meeting between the two ministers, followed by a meeting between the two countries’ delegations.

According to a statement from the Turkish Defense Ministry, during the meetings, apart from bilateral relations and regional issues, the topics of Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean were the most discussed items on the agenda.

The statement said Akar highlighted the importance of cooperation with Italy on both issues and underlined that Turkey is in favor of dialogue in the Eastern Mediterranean based on international maritime law.

He further indicated that despite Turkey’s positive, well-intended steps, the provocations in the region against the country continue.

Akar said that Ankara is in support of an independent and sovereign Libya and will continue to do what it takes to achieve stability in the region.

Turkey supports Libya’s United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and has helped it fend off attacks by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar.

Later in the day, Akar reiterated the content of the meetings and said that he further underlined Turkey’s right path in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“We are defending the right to determine the dialogue mechanisms between the two countries (Turkey and Greece) in order to prevent any accidents in the region. And we are hopeful in this aim of ours,” he said.

The minister further announced that the Turkish and Greek military delegations held their first technical meeting to form a mechanism for land and sea boundary clarification at the NATO base on Friday.

Tensions have recently escalated regarding the issue of energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greece, with France’s support, has disputed Turkey’s energy exploration, trying to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.

Turkey has sent drillships to explore for energy on its continental shelf, saying that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) also have rights in the region.

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