Davutoglu said that as the two countries entered 65 years of diplomatic ties, it is time to shift relations to “strategic cooperation.”
Aquino said the Turkish leader expressed support for peaceful means to settle territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea, including arbitration, for the sake of peace and stability in the region.
In a speech, Aquino thanked the Turkish prime minister for the support and guidance his country has contributed to Manila’s peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as well as to the 1996 peace agreement between the Philippines and the Moro National Liberation Front in its capacity as a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation peace committee for southern Philippines.
Turkey is a member of the International Contact Group and the Independent Decommissioning Body in government talks with the MILF and supports the government’s position on the closure of the Philippines-OIC-MNLF tripartite implementation review of the agreement with the MNLF.
“I reiterate the gratitude of the Filipino people for your country’s commitment to peace for all. Together, we look to a future of greater possibilities for our countrymen in the Bangsamoro, a future characterized by peace, stability and equitable progress for Christians, our indigenous brothers and Muslims in the region,” Aquino said.
“We are very happy to see this process is getting very successful and we are very proud that the chairman of the Independent Decommissioning Board is a Turkish diplomat,” Davutoglu said.
“And I hope with your wise leadership, Mr. President, this process will reach to success. We don’t have any doubt about it. And this success will be a good example for many other cases similar to this case,” he said.
“Just as we are committed to ushering in more opportunities for our people, we too are focused on ensuring the gains we achieve are maximized in a stable and secure environment,” Aquino said.
“The prime minister and I discussed the threat of ISIS, as well as the danger presented by similar organizations against religious and ethnic minorities in various parts of the world,” the President said.
Aquino said the fundamental purpose of government is to safeguard the welfare of its people by working hand-in-hand with partners at home, within the regions and in the larger community of nations.
Aquino said the IS is a difficult challenge for Turkey to address and “it is a threat that has brought great conflict to that nation and to many other nations beyond that vital region.” IS is also called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
“The various pressures presented by extremism seek to test the resolve of Turkey, a nation that has stood witness to many great battles in history, and I believe the government and people of Turkey, under your able leadership and that of President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan, will continue to demonstrate the vibrant resilience that embodies Turkish civilization,” the President said.
“Just as your people have partnered with us in advancing a just and lasting peace in Mindanao, allow me to say that it is my nation’s hope that we will be able to help Turkey as it confronts the persisting and emerging challenges of our time, such as the threat of ISIS. Rest assured, you will find a partner in the Filipino,” he said.
On issues confronting the Middle East, Davutoglu said he had briefed Aquino about the situation in Syria “because it is a humanitarian tragedy.”
“Around two million refugees from Syria are now in Turkey; 1.5 million escaped from the regimes who were attacked in the last three years and the rest 500,000 recently in three or four months because of the terrorists, brutal attacks of the ISIS,” he said.
“I am also grateful to Mr. President to have shared issues in Southeast Asia as well as maritime issues and other issues, we were briefed,” he said.
Davutoglu said Turkey would like to have more vibrant relations with countries in Asia.
“Whenever there is no wise leadership in a country, there is always a risk facing all types of challenges and bad memories. Your wise leadership in the Philippines and in ASEAN creates a zone of prosperity, a zone of stability. And Turkey – not only the Philippines – and the Philippines for us is a strategic friend and ally here, but we are also working our relationship with all ASEAN countries. We have opened embassies in all ASEAN. One of the first embassies was in the Philippines,” he said.
Air services deal
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of an air services agreement between the Philippines and Turkey.
“For the Philippines, this agreement will help further expand the operations of our own air services, and is part of our efforts to show to the world that we are indeed more open for business,” Aquino said.
The President also announced the two countries were working on a memorandum of understanding on tourism cooperation.
“We hope to convene the inaugural meeting of the Philippines-Turkey Joint Economic Commission in Ankara by next year to outline the approaches necessary in realizing our shared objective.”
The Turkish Prime Minister said he and Aquino agreed on almost everything they discussed. He invited the President to visit Turkey.
Davutoglu said the air agreement would work well because of the geographical distance between the two countries. – Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez