70 Years of Pakistan-Turkey Diplomatic Relations
Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad
November 27, 2017
“Pakistan has always been a traditional ally and a friend. Turkish foreign policy towards Pakistan has been something like a romantic movie”. This was stated by Dr. Ufuk Ulutas a Turkish researcher and columnist, during his speech at a Public Talk on the occasion of “70 Years of Pakistan-Turkey Diplomatic Relations”, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) today under its Distinguished Lecture Series.
Other distinguished speakers at the seminar included H.E. Sadik Babur Girgin, Ambassador of Republic of Turkey to Pakistan and Dr. Mesut Özcan, Acting Chairman, Centre for Strategic Research (CSR), Ankara.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman ISSI, in his welcome remarks briefed the audience of the MoU signed between ISSI and CSR and thanked Ambassador Girgin, for facilitating this event. He went on to talk about Pakistan-Turkey relations and stated that Pak-Turk relations predate partition and are based on common faith and shared culture. Both countries are founding members of Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and the D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation. He said that Turkey’s stance on Kashmir is of particular importance where Turkey has always voiced unconditional support to Pakistan at all forums. Pakistan has likewise supported Turkey in case of Northern Cyprus. Ambassador Mahmood went on to highlight increasing Turkish investment both in the public and private spheres in Pakistan in the field of economic cooperation, commercial ties , energy and infrastructure to name a few. He stated that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – now in its implementation stage – would provide very attractive opportunities for the Turkish investors as well.
Dr. Mesut Özcan spoke on the Turkish Foreign Policy. He stated that in the 1990s, there were hopes for a liberal international order, but the turbulent environment in the neighbouring region pushed Turkey’s foreign policy towards a more security-oriented front. Currently, several dynamics affect Turkish foreign policy, particularly the situation in the Middle East because it is leaving security issues for Turkey. He spoke about the deteriorating European Union-Turkey relations, the growth of xenophobia in the west, and the refugee crisis. With regard to Pakistan-Turkey relations, he stated that though economic trends are lacking, of late Turkish investors in Pakistan are increasing, particularly in the energy sector. This, he said, would enable a more stable and durable relationship.
Dr. Ufuk Ulutas briefed the audience about the Turkish perspective on the developments in the Middle East. He said that there are four phenomena which are shaping, and will continue to shape the Middle East in the future; the failed state, the ripple effect caused by the proxy wars, violent non-state actors and the refugee issue. With regard to the refugee issue, he said that it is not only a political and economic problem, it is also a security issue. He then went on to focus on the situations in Syria, Iraq and the Gulf. He stated that the current Astana process is a key example of where this process, though the mediator parties have differing views, has still managed to find a middle ground for peace in Syria. With regards to the Gulf crisis which he called a potential proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, this he said, needs to stop because another politically motivated crisis will have destructive results.
Ambassador Khalid in his concluding remarks highlighted the constructive role Turkey has played in bringing stability in the Middle East. He said that Pakistan greatly values its relationship with Turkey and hoped that it would continue to prosper.