THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, ANKARA, 18th SEPTEMBER 2013:
Pakistan and Turkey agreed to increase cooperation in trade, energy, infrastructure development, security and other areas, as well as enhance efforts for peace in the region.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, addressing a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, said ‘there was unanimity of views’ between the two sides on issues of bilateral and regional interest. Both the premiers co-chaired the third High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) meeting, which they described as ‘very productive’.
Prime Minister Nawaz said that his visit to Turkey, on the invitation of Prime Minister Erdogan, speaks volumes about the importance Pakistan gives to Turkey. On the strategic front, he expressed the hope that Pakistan and Turkey would redouble their efforts for ensuring peace and stability in the region.
The two countries also signed a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and agreed to increase the number of flights between Pakistan and Turkey.
Premier Nawaz said he was looking forward to the visit of Turkish Premier Erdogan for the fourth HLCC meeting to be held in Pakistan. He assured Erdogan that he would not find Pakistan lagging behind in the implementation of what was agreed.
Cooperation on security
Earlier, PM Nawaz Sharif met Turkish Interior Minister Muammer Güler and other senior security officials and reiterated that Pakistan would seek help and guidance from Turkey in wiping out extremism. He said that strong institutions, a corruption-free environment, an educated population and skilled manpower had resulted in Turkey’s development and progress.
The premier hoped Pakistan would implement an effective counterterrorism strategy with Turkey’s cooperation. “Turkey is our trusted friend and has come out of the same crisis we face today,” he said. “We have the potential to deliver, and we will deliver.”
The Turkish interior minister offered to help Pakistan control cybercrimes and tackle the issue of radicalisation. Pakistan has vast human resources and the right type of training and education would help a lot, Güler said.
He said that extremism could not be defeated with the use of force only, but it needs social reformation and education are equally required.
Pakistan and Turkey: ‘one nation, two states’
Separately, in an exclusive interview with Turkey’s Today’s Zaman newspaper, Prime Minister Sharif affirmed to put structures in place to boost trade and economic ties between the ‘one nation, two states’.
He underlined the excellent political relations between the two countries. “A huge reservoir of goodwill and affection flows from one country to another,” he said. However, there is a long way to go to translate these excellent political relations into tangible and robust trade relations, he added.
Nawaz called the Turkish business community and entrepreneurs to invest in Pakistan, especially in sectors like energy, infrastructure, engineering and the agro-based industry. Citing recent success stories involving Turkish companies in Pakistan, like Lahore’s Metro Bus System and a wind energy project in Sindh, he called Pakistan an investor-friendly country that offered complete legal protection and fair treatment to both local and foreign companies.
Meanwhile, the premier also emphasised Turkey’s role as a bridge between Asia and Europe, and Pakistan’s potential to become a gateway to the energy-rich Central Asia.
He said the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey trilateral process was an important initiative aimed at promoting peace, stability and socio-economic development in Afghanistan. “We are grateful to Turkey for its continued support to the process that has now evolved into an institutionalised tripartite mechanism for cooperation in diverse fields.”
Highest civil award
The prime minister was awarded Turkey’s highest civil award, ‘Jumhuriyet Nishan’. The award was bestowed by Turkish President Abdullah Gul at a special ceremony. “As a recipient of Turkey’s highest state decoration, I am deeply touched by the exalted recognition granted for my humble contribution to furthering our fraternal relations – a calling close to my heart,” he said in his acceptance remarks.