The cooperation group between Turkey, France and Italy will be reactivated: Draghi

Italy, Turkey and France will make the cooperation group between the three countries functional again, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Thursday.

Speaking to the Italian press, Draghi said: “We have decided to reactivate the group between Turkey, France and Italy, one of the cooperation platforms created over the years and then interrupted. Soon the three countries will have a meeting”.

Saying his meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of the NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels was positive, Draghi said sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine had weakened the Russian economy.

Draghi also said it was “impossible” to include NATO or the European Union in the demand for a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine. Speaking about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plan to switch to Russian rubles for payments for natural gas sales, Draghi said: “We see it as a violation of existing contracts.”

Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia would start selling gas to “hostile” countries in rubles after Moscow’s confidence was shaken by foreign nations as Russian assets were frozen.

“Russia will, of course, continue to supply natural gas according to the volumes and prices (…) set in the contracts concluded previously,” Putin said during a televised meeting with senior government ministers.

“There was no condemnation against China. On the contrary, it is hoped that Beijing will contribute to the peace process,” he added.

President Erdoğan attended the NATO summit in Brussels, while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the alliance must strengthen its defenses to counter the Russian invasion of Ukraine and “respond to a new security reality in Europe”.

The president also met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

As Erdoğan arrived in Brussels on Wednesday evening, he was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun and presidential speech Ibrahim Kalın.

The extraordinary meeting of NATO heads of state and government discussed the alliance’s response to Russia’s war against Ukraine, which entered its second month on Thursday.

The summit, with a particular focus on the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war, reviewed steps the alliance will take to strengthen its defense and deterrence.

During the summit, leaders also discussed steps and decisions to shape NATO’s future ahead of the Madrid summit to be held in June to adopt its new Strategic Concept.

NATO’s long-term position in Eastern Europe was also assessed at the meeting.

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