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Protect and be Protected – Common Strategic Vision and Challenges Facing Turkey and Italy

The approach of Italian companies to Turkey has shifted from commercial-oriented to industrial-oriented. Turkey is no longer perceived as a simple customer, but rather as a full-fledged industrial partner

Italian Ambassador to Turkey Mr Luigi MATTIOLO, Ambassador discusses the Italian committment to support Turkey in the field of defense through the promotion of technology transfer and co-design, championing interoperability as Turkey and Italy share a common strategic vision of the challenges facing their countries.   

“Cooperation in the field of defence has been one of the top priorities during my tenure as Ambassador of Italy to Turkey, as it encompasses a shared strategic vision, a common political willingness as well as several significant economic advantages for both countries. More than other sectors, the cooperation among defence industries requires a high degree of trust and partnership and represents an essential component of the bilateral relations between Italy and Turkey: among the most relevant results achieved in the last few years, it is worth recalling the development of the ATAK Helicopter between Agusta Westland and Turkish Aerospace (TUSAŞ), the production and launch of the first Turkish satellite Göktürk-1 by Telespazio and Turkish Aerospace, or the ongoing cooperation between Roketsan, Aselsan and the Italian and French consortium Eurosam for the development of a new air defence system. The cooperation between Italy and Turkey in the defence sector proved particularly successful and maintains a strong potential since it is based on three main pillars: 

1 - Being both at the forefront on the southern flank of the NATO alliance, Ankara and Rome share a common strategic vision of the challenges facing our countries. This is the background of our willingness to cooperate and to respond to our defence needs, as it is natural among allies and friendly countries. The best example of such an approach is the deployment by the Italian army of a missile defence system in Kahramanmaraş, under NATO command and control. The recent confirmation and extension of our engagement within the “Active Fence” Operation, which has already been in place for the last two years, is a clear sign of the Italian commitment to support Turkey in the field of defence; 

2 - As far as industrial cooperation is concerned, Italian companies, starting from Leonardo, have a countless record of investments and co-production in Turkey, which remain key elements to strengthen the Turkish defense industry. A unique availability to technology transfer and co-design has been displayed by Italian companies within the framework of several projects, starting from ATAK, which is now exported to third countries and so embodies the “win-win” nature of our collaboration. In other words, I want to highlight how the approach of Italian companies to Turkey has shifted from commercial-oriented to industrial-oriented. Turkey is no longer perceived as a simple customer, but rather as a full-fledged industrial partner; 

3 - Our cooperation in the defence sector is founded on and reinforced by the common membership of the NATO alliance. It is not by coincidence that the first meeting between Prime Minister Conte and President Erdogan took place in July 2018 within the framework of the NATO Summit. I consider that two factors are mutually reinforcing: industrial cooperation is more viable among allies and, at the same time, it contributes to the strengthening of our alliance. This is the reason why we attach such a great importance to the production - together with Turkish companies - of a new air defence system which can be fully integrated with NATO systems: if you are interoperable, you can have all the strength of the Alliance on your side in case there is a need to protect and be protected. 

I am deeply confident about the prospects of future cooperation between Italy and Turkey in the defence area as it is based on a very solid bedrock and serves the interest of both countries. We foresee growing opportunities for Italian and Turkish industries especially in the fields of helicopters and airplanes, where new partnerships can bring greater results. For the future, besides improving collaboration among the big players, we are equally fostering a closer cooperation among SME’s of the defence industry. The crucial role of SMEs in both Turkish and Italian economies is under everybody’s eyes: to expand our partnership at the SME’s scale which can be pivotal to develop the defence capabilities both in Italy and Turkey.”