Italian Premier Mario Monti says Turkey could give the "tired" European Union vibrant economic, strategic and cultural benefits if allowed to become a member.
Monti effusively praised the Muslim country's EU bid Tuesday in a press conference in Rome with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey's accession talks began in 2005 but have stalled, with EU skepticism over Turkey's bid building as Turkish reform efforts have slowed. Italy has been among EU nations who have long supported Turkey's candidacy.
Monti says Turkey represents an important example of a demographically young, vibrant country on the up-and-up economically.