ISLAMABAD: Turkey on Tuesday said it respected Pakistan’s decision on the Nato supply routes and endorsed its demand for an apology from the United States over the killing of its troops at the Salala checkpost.
“As a member of Nato, Turkey believes that such issues should be resolved through mutual dialogue,” he said, while addressing a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani after signing the joint declaration for cooperation in various fields.
PM Gilani said Pakistan was forced to close the Shamsi Airbase and Nato supply route following the Salala attack, after which the government had mandated parliament to chalk out new terms of engagement with ISAF, Nato and the US,adding: “Talks will continue in light of the recommendations.” He said the world should take cognisance of the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the war against terror.
“Pakistan wants to work with the international community vis-a-vis the Afghanistan conflict,” PM Gilani said, adding that the country was part of the solution rather than a problem for the neighbouring country. He emphasised the importance of a prosperous and stable Afghanistan, which he believed would be in the interests of Pakistan. “We will support and facilitate the Afghans’ own and Afghan-led reconciliation,” he maintained.
Responding to a question, the Turkish prime minister said Nato had decided to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, but the date was not absolute and might be delayed. He said Turkey would withdraw from Afghanistan after all troops had already withdrawn. “We are not going to leave our Afghan brothers alone.”
Erdogan also touched upon the confrontation between the government and opposition in Pakistan when asked to comment on his meeting with PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif. “I will try to understand his perspective on the matter at hand,” he added. Cracking a joke on the opposition in his country, Erdogan remarked: “If the government says the roof is black, the opposition calls it white.”
He advised the opposition to be constructive to serve the country and people. “If the government and the opposition keep fighting, the people of the country will suffer profoundly,” he added. “We should put the people first. The state is secondary. The purpose of the state is only to serve the people, and not anything else.”
Erdogan said if political parties in Pakistan demonstrated shoulder-to-shoulder politics, Pakistan would be able to take its deserving place in the world. Earlier, Prime Minister Gilani, in his opening statement, said the second session of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) would endorse a new chapter in Pak-Turkey relations. He said the enduring friendship between Pakistan and Turkey was unique and shared by the people of both countries. “The HLCC is a very special forum that virtually brings together the cabinets of the two countries on an annual basis to review in a comprehensive manner, the status of cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields,” he added. He said the first session of HLCC was held in Ankara in December 2010 where a comprehensive framework was drawn to intensify cooperation between the two countries.
PM Gilani said the important feature of the HLCC framework was the mechanism of joint working groups focusing on key areas of cooperation. The six working groups on finance and banking, commerce and trade, energy, railways and communications, education, and culture and tourism met in Islamabad on May 19 and 20, 2012. “I and my Turkish counterpart co-chaired the second session of HLCC where the concerned ministers presented the outcome of the deliberations of the six joint working groups. We have just signed a detailed joint declaration summarising the outcome of the deliberations held at the levels of joint working groups and Joint Ministerial Commission over the last three days. “The Joint Ministerial Commission signed the agreed minutes of the Joint Ministerial Commission. The two sides also signed seven documents on promotion and protection of investment, urbanisation, international road transport, renewable energy and higher education, besides signing an MoU on solid waste management,” he added.
Gilani said he hoped that the agreements signed and decisions reached would give fresh impetus to bilateral cooperation in key areas identified at the first HLCC meeting.“PM Erdogan and I have directed our concerned authorities to implement diligently the decisions of the second session of the HLCC.”
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said nine years ago, Pak-Turkey trade volume was $175 million, which had now reached $1 billion. He said he hoped that it would reach $2 billion in the near future. He said to attract foreign investment, a country should provide favourable atmosphere and strong economy. He
Separately, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was conferred the honorary degree of doctor of philosophy in international relations by the Quaid-e-Azam University. Acting President Nayyer Hussain Bokhari conferred the honorary PhD degree upon the Turkish prime minister in a special convocation held at Aiwan-e-Sadr.
Prime Minister Gilani, members of the federal cabinet, diplomats and other officials besides the academic staff of the Quaid-e-Azam University were also present on the occasion. Thanking the Quaid-e-Azam University, the Turkish prime minister said both Pakistan and Turkey had very strong and brotherly relations based on common background, culture and heritage. He said the foreign policy of Turkey and Pakistan should be used as a role model for the world as both countries had unanimity of views on all international issues.
Without mentioning the name of any country, the Turkish prime minister criticised the policy of some countries that possessed weapons of mass destruction, but did not allow any other country to acquire such weapons, even for their defence. Referring to the importance and equal status of every country in the world, he said every country should be given respect and honour.