Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said on Tuesday that Italy strongly supported Turkey's entry into the European Union (EU).
"We find Turkey's membership of the EU very beneficial," Ciampi, who arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Monday for a state visit, told a joint news conference with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer after their meeting.
He noted that his visit to Turkey was aimed at strengthening political, economic and cultural relations between the two NATO members.
Italy is the second biggest trade partner of Turkey with bilateral trade volume reaching 11.5 billion US dollars last year.
Ciampi said that Turkey is on the most important energy transfer routes and that opening of Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline is the proof of it.
Ciampi said that Turkish-Italian cooperation will gain a new momentum with Turkey's getting closer to the EU.
Turkey started entry talks with the 25-member EU in October which is expected to last for a decade.
He pointed out that Turkey and Italy supported development of relations between Western world and Islamic world to prevent conditions which will cause a possible clash among civilizations.
"President Ciampi has arrived in Turkey with a large delegation of businessmen. This shows that Italy shares the same will as Turkey to enhance bilateral economic relations," said Sezer.
He noted, "during the meeting we also stressed the determination to further improve our cooperation in culture, tourism, defense and education areas. Turkey and Italy have also a beneficial cooperation in international institutions especially in NATO."
Ciampi also met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.