A Turkish delegation headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed nine protocols and a joint declaration that aim to bring a new momentum to Turkish-Pakistani relations by enhancing cooperation in the fields of the economy, energy, transportation and tourism.
Erdoğan was received by his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in an official ceremony and the two held a private talk. Following that, the two leaders attend the second Turkey-Pakistan High-Level Cooperation Council meeting, where the two countries signed the agreements that would prepare the grounds for improved cooperation between the two countries. The accompanying Turkish ministers on Erdoğan's two-day visit to Pakistan, including Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız and Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, signed the agreements.
The ministers of the two countries put their signatures on an economic committee protocol, an agreement on cooperation on renewable energy, a framework agreement for cooperation on transportation, an agreement on incentives for mutual investments, a memorandum on the establishment of a technopark between ODTÜ (Middle East Technical University) and Quaid-i-Azam University, a memorandum of understanding on urbanization and an agreement between Karachi Municipality and Albayrak Holding.
Meanwhile, an upcoming Turkey-Pakistan Business Council meeting to be held in Turkey was announced, the date of which will be specified at some point in the future, as mentioned in the joint declaration. The declaration also foresaw the organization of annual bilateral meetings between the two countries at foreign ministerial level and announced the first meeting of its kind for the coming fall in İstanbul.
Erdoğan and his counterpart Gilani emphasized a deep fraternity stemming from old cultural and historical ties between the two countries, which are “tested by time” and “exceeding geographical distances” and evolving into a strong strategic partnership.
The joint declaration also noted that the two countries will enhance the continuing military partnership as well as cooperation in the fights against terrorism and drug trafficking, with a special focus on common research and development techniques in the defense industry.
During a joint press appearance with Gilani on Tuesday, Erdoğan also touched upon the future of the 11-year NATO Afghan mission.
“The target [for the end of NATO’s Afghanistan mission] seems to be the end of 2014, but it is not a confirmed date,” Erdoğan maintained. Erdoğan claimed that Turkey will never leave Afghanistan on its own and will be in the country until their “Afghan brothers” say the Turkish mission is done.
The contributing countries plan to aid Afghanistan to a large extent in order to bring it up to a level of self-sufficiency, which would prepare the ground for a withdrawal, as was discussed at the recent landmark NATO summit in Chicago.
Erdoğan also delivered an apology from the US to Pakistan for a tragic mistake which claimed the lives of 24 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan closed its border after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in US airstrikes on the Afghan border in November.
Claiming that to normalize ties with NATO and to re-open borders is “in Pakistan’s own discretion,” Erdoğan asserted that, “on Turkey’s behalf as a NATO member,” the issues should be resolved on the basis of mutual understanding between the parties.
Turkey’s recent push for Pakistani participation in the recent NATO summit ended in a last-minute invitation to President Asif Ali Zardari. Pakistan’s participation raised hopes that the country may be ready to reopen its border so that the US and NATO can dispatch military supplies to neighboring Afghanistan.
Courtesy: Today's Zaman, 23 May 2012