ANKARA: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday renewed their pledge to upgrade the excellent bilateral ties between the two brotherly countries to new heights by infusing new vigour of bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.
Addressing a joint press stakeout after holding a meeting, PM Shehbaz Sharif said the relationship between the two countries was embedded deep into history and shaped by shared goals. The ties transcended times and continued from generations to generations, he added.
Both leaders also agreed to holding of 7th High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC), a primary platform at the leadership-level, in Islamabad this year during the month of September. He said this year, the two countries were celebrating 75th year anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties.
The prime minister while terming his meeting with President Erdogan very productive, expressed the hope that under the dynamic leadership of president, the bilateral ties would scale to new heights. He said they had heart to heart and very productive discussions.
The prime minister said the visit of a strong Turkish business delegation to Pakistan would further provide impetus to the trade and investment cooperation and resolved to make the visit very solid and result-oriented.
Citing the launch of MILGEM-class ship PNS Badar in Karachi on May 20, jointly constructed by Pakistan and Turkey, the prime minister said it was ‘a shining example of the excellent cooperation’ between the two countries in the defence sector.
He said Pakistan and Turkey would be exploring further joint ventures in the defence sector. He reiterated that Pakistan would not abandon its quest for peace, but it was convinced that peace in South Asia was possible if the long standing issue of Kashmir was resolved under the United Nations Security Council resolutions and in line with the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
The PM reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to Turkey over Northern Cyprus and resolved that Pakistan stood with Turkey in its fight against terrorism and terrorist groups like the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). “Enemies of Turkey are the enemies of Pakistan,” he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his remarks, said during their meeting, they had discussed the regional and international issues in detail. The president said the mutual trade between the two countries had also soared to over $1 billion and they were resolved to take it to $5 billion annually. Tourism, education, logistic and civil aviation were the some other sectors in which they had been working to enhance cooperation, he added. The president underlined the need for business companies of both countries to increase the mutual investment as it was a driving engine for their economies.
He promised to encourage the Turkish companies to increase their investment in Pakistan. President Erdogan also reiterated support to the Government of Pakistan in its efforts against terrorism. He also reaffirmed Turkey’s support to Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, stressing for its legitimate resolution.
He said both countries were also making efforts to ensure a lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, and referred to the humanitarian assistance and support extended to the Afghan people.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warmly received Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif upon his arrival at the Presidential Complex. National anthems of the both countries were played and the prime minister inspected the guard of honour along with President Erdogan. Both the leaders were introduced to the delegations of the two countries.
PM Shehbaz also visited the mausoleum of first president and founding father of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and laid a wreath there. He also observed a minute of silence to pay respect to the great Turkish leader.
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of various agreements and memorandums of understanding for enhanced cooperation in diverse areas of mutual interests. Earlier, Pakistan and Turkey Wednesday decided to constitute a Joint Task Force, under the coordination of their commerce and trade ministries, to develop a comprehensive roadmap, covering the issues connected to bilateral trade.
The Force, under Turkish Ministry of Trade, and Ministry of Commerce Pakistan, would cover areas including logistics, banking, customs and agriculture.
A decision in this regard was made during Turkish Commerce Minister Dr Mehmet Mus’s meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The two sides exchanged views on the trade potential between the two countries.
The PM underscored the importance of increasing bilateral trade volume to US$5 billion over the next three years. He also underlined the resolve to fully facilitate Turkish companies in Pakistan to enhance trade.
The prime minister also noted that the connectivity projects between Pakistan and Turkey, in particular Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) Cargo Train, would provide additional avenues for the traders on both sides to conduct business efficiently and expeditiously.
Turkish Minister for Trade Dr Mehmet Mus concurred with the PM on realising true potential of the trade between the two countries, and promised full cooperation in this regard.
PM Shehbaz Sharif, in his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu, highlighted the convergence between the two countries on a range of regional and international issues and stressed the need for continued close coordination. He noted that the bilateral relations were exceptionally warm as the peoples of the two countries shared special bonds that dated back centuries. He recalled the support extended by the two countries to each other in times of need.
PM Shehbaz Sharif lauded the personal contribution of the Turkish foreign minister to advancing bilateral relations and for playing an important role in strengthening existing institutional mechanism of cooperation between the two countries.
In this context, the importance of the 7th session of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) was highlighted and the substantive preparations for it were reviewed.
He asked Turkish companies to invest in diverse sectors including food processing, agriculture, automotives, information technology, hydel, solar, and wind energy. The PM thanked the Turkish foreign minister for Turkey’s principled policy on Jammu and Kashmir. He added that the people of Pakistan and Kashmir deeply appreciated Turkey’s support for this just cause.
On Afghanistan, the prime minister stressed the importance of addressing the dire humanitarian situation, the release of Afghan assets to help stabilise the economy, and continued efforts for sustainable peace and stability in the country.
PM Shehbaz Sharif also invited the Turkish investors to explore Pakistan’s diverse sectors, particularly the energy sector, offering immense opportunities and scope for development.
Addressing the Pakistan Turkey Business Council under the DEIK -- Foreign Economic Relations Board, he said Pakistan’s energy sector with its vast potential in hydel, thermal, coal, wind, and solar areas could prove ideal for the Turkish investors. The leading businessmen and investors from Turkey and Pakistan participated in the meeting.
President DEIK Nail Olpak and Chair Turkish-Pakistan Business Council Ahmet Cengiz Özdemir introduced the participating companies and briefed the prime minister about Turkish investments in Pakistan.
The prime minister stressed that Pakistani and Turkish companies could also work together in the oil and gas sector. They could collaborate not only in exploration and production but in building refineries and pipelines, he said.
Shehbaz Sharif highlighted the priorities of his government, saying that addressing the challenges of industrial sustainability, particularly in view of the global fourth industrial revolution was significant. He said Pakistan with its huge youth bulge could undergo remarkable progress and development in various sectors of public importance.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister for Commerce and Investment Syed Naveed Qamar, and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb were also present.
PM Shehbaz Sharif said that out of political animosity, the previous government ruined all the projects initiated by the preceding governments. In separate meetings with Turkish investors, he said unfortunately, a conspiracy was hatched to discourage investment in Pakistan. He said previously as the Punjab chief minister, he had saved $90 million from the contract signed with the Lahore Waste Management Company.
In a meeting with the PM, a delegation of Turkish firm Siyahkalem, headed by President Cengiz Ozdemir, expressed confidence in the measures taken by his government to encourage foreign investment in Pakistan. The delegation expressed its keen interest in the projects in the fields of solar, wind, hydel energy as well as housing construction.
A delegation of Arcelic, led by Chief Commercial Officer Can Dincer, also met the prime minister and appreciated his government’s steps to facilitate the foreign investors.
Chief Executive Officer of Zorlu Energy, along with a delegation, called on Shehbaz Sharif and expressed the interest to invest in the energy sector of Pakistan.
During his meeting with President of Albayrak, Ahmed Albayrak, the prime minister was told that the previous government’s spokesperson had damaged the company’s reputation and was pressured to wind up its operations in Pakistan. Moreover, the company’s workers were also jailed.
Vice President of Turkish firm Hayat Kimya Ali Zaybuk, along with a delegation, also called on the prime minister and conveyed his company’s interest in enhancing the volume of investment in Pakistan.