The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organised a Public Talk, titled “Pakistan-Turkish Relations” today by the Turkish Ambassador in Islamabad, H.E. Mr. Sadiq Babur Girgin.
The Chairman, ISSI, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood in his welcome remarks said that Pakistan has a special relationship with two countries, China and Turkey. With Turkey, Pakistan has not only a strategic relationship, but also an economic one. Both countries are cooperating on Afghanistan through the Istanbul Process and the ‘Heart of Asia’ process to ensure stability in the region. However, he said economic relations with Turkey have not been very encouraging. He said that Turkey had always come to the rescue of Pakistan during disasters, proving all kinds of assistance to affected areas.
Ambassador Girgin stressed on the cultural and historical affinity between the two peoples. He stated that the common Islamic tradition formed the basis of unchanging people-to-people relations. More recently, effort has been made to develop bilateral cooperation especially in the energy and trade sectors through the platform of High Level Strategic Cooperation Council. Emphasising connectivity, the ambassador informed the audience of the frequency of flights between the two countries having tripled over the past few years. He said both countries would soon be signing a Free Trade Agreement. Referring to connectivity, he spoke about the rail link between the two countries and the test initiation of cargo trains and the road links between the two countries. He called for greater connectivity between the Think Tanks and Media of the two countries. He said Turkey will soon be increasing the number of Pakistani students in its universities. He said that it was easy to sign agreements, but we must make them work also. Taliking about regional cooperation, the Ambassador said that there are several processes underway including the Trilateral Summit Process, better known as the Ankara Process, the ‘Heart of Asia’ Process and the Istanbul Process which aim at putting the region at the center to find regional solutions to regional problems.
In conclusion, the Director General, Ambassador Masood Khan, praised Turkey for its exceptional achievements as an emerging leader in Asia, Europe and Africa. He said that Pakistan-Turkish relations are poised to become even stronger in the years to come. This relationship, he said has strategic depth anchored in history. Both countries have strong solidarity. Speaking about connectivity, he expressed hope that with the initiation of CPEC, new avenues would connect Pakistan and West Asia and Turkey, whose unique economic geography places it in a position of strength, and to act as a natural platform for connectivity with several regions and nations. He hoped that CPEC would continue through Iraq and Turkey, and as highlighted by the Ambassador, we already have the infrastructure, and this has to be developed further. Concluding, he said Pakistan and Turkey believe that the UN Security Council reform should be conducted in a manner that the UN as a whole, and the Security Council in particular become more representative, and this representation should be given to the small and medium size members. We would not countenance any candidacies for permanent seats. Turkey, he said, is a member of Uniting for Consensus and has hosted many conferences, and is a very credible and authentic voice in the United Nations on this issue, and Pakistan and Turkey are unanimous on this issue.