I was in a rocky Italian village, Montagnaga, where Dr. Ermanno Visintainer, a renowned Turkologist, resides. He is not only an academic but also a truly passionate Turkologist. His wife, Gerlma Borcigin, is of Mongolian origin. Her sister completed a master's degree at Boğaziçi University. He met his wife in İstanbul and their little son, Timuçin, speaks both Mongolian and Italian.
Visintainer is the founding president of a think tank named Vox Populi (Voice of the People). I was at a workshop, “Mediterranean: Liquid Continent,” held by Vox Populi in Trento-Montagnaga, on July 1-3. Italian parliamentarians Riccardo Migliori and Giacomo Santini served as Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) election observers in Turkey during the June 12 general elections. At the workshop, they praised Turkish democracy, recent changes in the political, economic and democratic spheres as well as Ahmet Davutoğlu's foreign policy style, particularly on Mediterranean issues.
At Vox Populi they published an edited volume on Davutoğlu's seminal book in Turkish, “Strategic Depth: Turkey's International Position.” Its Italian title is “La Profondita Strategica Turca nel Pensiero di Ahmet Davutoğlu” (Turkish Strategic Depth in Ahmet Davutoğlu's Views). The Italian press in particular used to publish false reports on Davutoğlu's book. This is why they considered translating the book into Italian. However, because it was so voluminous, the book's translation from Turkish to Italian seemed impossible. They gave up on a direct translation and decided to instead write a book of analyses of Davutoğlu's book. The Italian book contains three preface pieces by Professor İskender Pala, Italia's envoy to Ankara, Gianpaolo Scarante, and Turkey's envoy to Rome, Hakkı Akil. An article by Davutoğlu was also translated for the book.
Each author commented on a part of the book. Visintainer analyzed the philosophical priority of Davutoğlu's book, while renowned Italian writer Andrea Marcigliano focused on NATO, Italian Turkologist Fabrizio Beltrami on Turkey's foreign policy in Arab countries, Leonid Savin on relations between Turkey and the Russian Federation, Andrea Forti on neo-Ottomanism, Daniele Lazzeri on Turkey's economic policies, Augusto Grandi on trade relations between Italy and Turkey, Andrea Liorsi on policies pursued by the Turkish Naval Forces, Giancarlo Lagana on northern Cyprus, and Angelo Mecca on the links between Byzantium and Turkey.
The authors contend that Davutoğlu's work is a remarkable geopolitical book considering both the Western perspective and the Turkish approach. This is why they believe Davutoğlu to be a leader of a new line of thinking. They are preparing to hold conferences on the book in both Venice and İstanbul. According to Visintainer, Turkey, as underlined by Davutoğlu, is at the center of three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa) and Italy is a bridge between Europe and Africa.
Trento, a city in the center of Trentino province, is located in the Adige Valley in the north of Italy. According to research by Visintainer, the people in the town of Moena in the province of Trentino believe that they are descendents of two janissaries who came to the area after the Siege of Vienna. They display Turkish flags during a festival in August and wear Turkish national outfits. The historical fountain in the town has Turkish imagery. Belluna, a neighboring town, has a village bearing a Turkish name, Karaköy. The village, now deserted, has a similar past. The Dolomite Mountains in the north of Italy have been home to a people called the Ret, who were related to Turks. The legends of Turks and Italians have many s imilarities and resemblances. They share a common history and past starting from Siberia through Asia and Europe.