ANKARA: Pakistan and Turkey on Tuesday agreed to further strengthen and take their existing close bilateral ties to ‘greater heights’ through enhanced cooperation in the range of areas including defence, with Turkey offering military hardware and assistance in infrastructure building.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan after co-chairing the first High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) meeting here told a press conference that the inaugural session of HLCC remained very useful and would help to steer “our unique partnership to ever greater heights.”
The two sides on this occasion also signed 18 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and Protocols for increased cooperation in various fields including health, education, agriculture, infrastructure, housing, media etc.
The Turkish Prime Minister said with the two countries already having strong relations, there were greater prospects of further strengthening these ties through enhanced cooperation in the areas of military, defence, trade and economy and culture.
He expressed the confidence that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Turkey, which was US$ one billion in 2009, would reach US$ two billion by 2012, adding, the visit of Prime Minister Gilani would broaden the possibility to expand cooperation in the fields of defence, economy, health, education, infrastructure etc.
The Turkish Prime Minister also pledged to help Pakistan rehabilitate the infrastructure damaged due to the recent devastating floods in Pakistan, especially schools and hospitals.
He said there was significant damage to infrastructure due to floods in Pakistan and there is a need for drinking water, energy, roads and hospitals. “We will also focus on housing projects.”
“Turkey has a strong construction industry which is second to China”, Erdogan said and added he visited Pakistan after earthquake hit Pakistan in 2005 and Turkey had its role in reconstruction.
The Turkish Prime Minister referred to the recent floods and said “this was a completely different scenario”.
Erdogan pledged all out support to Pakistan in overcoming the challenges faced by it and said, “We will work hand in hand to overcome challenges” and their effort to mitigate suffering of people will continue with solid support.
To a question, Prime Minister Erdogan said the Turkish defence industry has significant production capacity in armoured personnel carriers, unmanned aerial vehicles and sea vessels.
Turkey will start production of attack helicopters by 2013, he said while referring to possibilities of defence cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey.
“We are moving forward very confidently and engaging in commercial relations” and this is essence of defence sector, he added.
Prime Minister Gilani said he and Prime Minister Erdogan had excellent discussions, which were marked by unanimity of views on all issues of mutual interest and concern.
“We greatly value our brotherly relations and partnership with Turkey which is deeply rooted in our common history, culture and shared faith”, he added.
Gilani termed the inaugural session of the High Level Cooperation Council as ‘very useful’ and said, it would help to steer our unique partnership to ever greater heights.
The Prime Minister said the two countries were determined to further boost their relations in the fields of economy, trade, investment, agriculture, industry, defence and people to people contacts.
“We have placed special focus on re-energizing our trade and economic relations in a comprehensive manner. Our strategic economic partnership is sure to create win-win scenarios”, he stressed.
The Prime Minister close attention would be given to promoting cooperation in education as well as in the fields of culture, tourism and people to people and parliamentary exchanges.
“We also exchanged views on important regional and global issues”, he added.
The Prime Minister expressed gratitude on behalf of the Pakistani nation to the Turkish nation for their efforts in sending generous aid for the flood affected people of Pakistan.
“We deeply value the visits of Prime Minister Erdogan and Madame Erdogan to Pakistan recently to show solidarity with the people of Pakistan”.
The Prime Minister said he was convinced that the High Level Council will greatly contribute to give a new dimension to Pakistan- Turkey friendship and take our partnership to new heights.
To a question about the implementation of the MoUs signed between the two countries, Gilani assured that MoUs would be implemented as the two sides had done their homework and the ministers held deliberations by going into details of the projects.