Mr. Luigi Ianuzzi, Italy’s consul in Izmir city, an industrial resort city at the Western Aegean Region, says Turkey’s capacity of producing raw materials and Italy’s processing technologies form a complementary economical cooperation
Turks and Italians started to interact as soon as Turkic tribes arrived the shores of Aegean Sea by 11th and 12th centuries. The two people noticed the importance of commerce without any delay. Mutual trade between Turkey and Italy institutionalized since then. Italian Consul in Izmir, Luigi Ianuzzi underlines that Italy is Turkey’s third biggest trade partner today. Mr. Iannuzzi welcomed us warmly in chancellery office of Italian Consulate in Izmir.
Existence of Italians in İzmir goes back to the 13th century, we have old and deep relations. What can be said about these relations in terms of today’s conditions?
As you say, economic relations go back to the time of the Ottoman Empire. We always say, especially in the Aegean Region, presence of the people who have origins of today’s Italy came here for business purposes. Many of them settled here. We still have economic relations which is based in this historical background. If I provide you some numbers of year 2016, it will give you a better idea. The complete volume of trade between Italy and Turkey was almost 18 billion dollars last year. 10,1 billion dollars of this amount is the import of Turkey from Italy where 7,6 billion dollars of the total volume is Turkey’s exportation to Italy. This total amount took Italy to third place in economic interexchange relation with Turkey. It’s not the highest figure in the history but still it’s a good amount. If you consider these figures and our strong and deep economical relations, of course, a significant part of this figure played by the Aegean Region and Izmir area.
How many companies are there in İzmir and Turkey having Italian capital or partnership?
It’s difficult to give an exact number as an answer to your question. We may have firms that are 100 percent Italian capital and some of them have mixed capital. Maybe it’s better to give a whole figure consisting Turkey. We can say that there are 1370 Italian firms in Turkey. In the Aegean Region also we have an important share. We have Eldor here in İzmir which is a very important company in terms of technology and innovation. We have other firms like Ferrero, which is one of the biggest Italian firms in the world. So we can say that a good share of total Italian companies in Turkey are in Aegean and Izmir region.
What do you think is the reason that so many Italian companies choose Turkey and Aegean Region to invest?
One of the first issues is the historical relationship that we underlined at the beginning of our conversation. Another reason of the presence of Italian companies in this reason is that there’s a natural sympathy based on our common Mediterranean background. That makes Turkey and especially the Aegean Region somewhere very familiar for Italian companies. There’s a friendly environment here and naturally it makes Italians feel home in this region. Plus, there’s a similarity between Italian industrial features and Turkish industrial features. The two economies have similar structures based on small enterprises. So we have a high quota of Italian and Turkish companies which have a middle size.
Another element that I consider important is the common complementary feature of Italian and Turkish economies. Marble, agriculture and textile are good examples for this. These are three very important sectors for the Aegean Region. Turkey is very strong in the production of raw materials in these three sectors. Like marble… Turkey has a lot of natural stones and Italy is one of the leading countries in the world for technology. Italy is a leading country in technologies cutting and processing the marble. So the two economies match together and achieve common good results.
Apparently the refugee crisis is the most important issue for the region and the whole Europe. What is the point of view of the Italian government for the solution of the case?
Refugee crisis is one of the biggest challenges that we face in today’s world and both Italy and Turkey are facing this challenge. This is also the proof of the fact that apart from the economical aspect, we have a common Mediterranean background which is based on welcoming and taking care of people. In the last three or four years, both Italy and Turkey did a lot to welcome these people. Turkey did this for Syrian people and Italy for African refugees. This is a common effort that we share. These kinds of challenges can only be faced through a common action that targets the roots of the phenomenon. It’s not just a matter of saving lives in the sea. The number of lives saved by Italian authorities are increasing. But the problem is not only saving life; it’s about finding ways to welcome these people. The challenge is so big and it can be faced only with common effort by the international community. In our case, Italy is working with the support of European Union.
And finally I would like to share a common point about you. As soon as you took the office of Italian Consulate in İzmir, we observed that you started acting like a real “Izmirian.” We saw you in the morning and evening inside the people who are going to their offices or coming back to their homes. As a journalist, I can say that you are beloved in this city.
Thanks a lot. I’m happy that you feel that way. Actually the point is that for the last three years, Izmir has been my hometown. I’m serving here as a foreign diplomat, but also I live in this city. As I was telling you, our countries have a common background, which is based on being Mediterranean. So after coming to Izmir, I got in touch with the city immediately. It was natural for me, it felt like home. I never felt like a stranger in a foreign country. And Izmir also welcomed me immediately. There are many cultural offers like concerts, exhibitions and many events here. İzmir is a lively city. Also daily life is so good because of the weather, sea and climate. I hope my feeling will last as long as I serve here. And also I’m happy that I gave such an impression.