‘No difference between Gallipoli and occupied Kashmir’: Erdogan stands by Pakistan in Parliament speech
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad — for a record fourth time — during which he reiterated his country's support for Pakistan, its stance on the Kashmir issue and in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
"I thank God for giving me this opportunity. I am thankful to each of you individually for allowing me to address this joint session of Parliament. I would like to convey the greeting of 83 million brothers and sisters in Turkey," said the foreign dignitary at the start of his speech.
President Erdogan on ties with Pakistan:
- Backs Pakistan in face of pressure in the FATF
- Vows to stand by Pakistan in war against terrorism, Kashmir
- Emphasises the historical ties between the two nations
- To sign various pacts regarding infrastructure, investment during Pakistan visit
"I am thankful for the way in which the people of Pakistan have welcomed us. Here in Pakistan we never see ourselves as strangers. We feel at home. We are here at home, together with you.
"Today, Pakistan and Turkey's relations are admirable for others [...] The much-envied Turkey-Pakistan brotherhood today, is a true brotherhood, strengthened by history and reinforced by historical events."
'Will never forget your prayers'
Erdogan recalled various events, which he termed as "golden examples" of the "common history" of Pakistan and Turkey.
Recalling how during the First World War people from present-day Pakistan galvanised in support of the Turkish people, Erdogan referred to a public rally in Lahore which he said was led by Allama Iqbal.
"In the year 1915, while the Turkish soldiers defend the Dardanelles Strait with a glorious resistance, a rally took place [...] 6,000 kilometres from the front and it was recorded on the unforgettable pages of history.
"The theme of this historic rally in Lahore Square was Çanakkale [...] On that day, Lahore Square was jam-packed with Muslims as we were struggling to survive and our brothers and sisters in this geographic [region] were also under pressure of the colonialists.
"Despite challenges and threats, they raised a huge charity for Çanakkale through the exhibitions in the square."
The Gallipoli campaign, which is also known as the Battle of Çanakkale, was one of the bloodiest campaigns of the First World War that took place in what is modern-day Turkey. The campaign, which began after Allied forces landed in the Turkish peninsula to oust the Ottoman Empire, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands on both sides.
Thanking the Pakistani people for their help in Turkey's war of independence, Erdogan said:
"Dear brothers and sisters who else should we love and feel affection for other than you.
"Our friendship is not based on vested interests but on love," he said.
Quoting a poem by Allama Iqbal, which he said the poet read out during the Lahore rally, Erdogan said: "Yes, like the poet, people in Lahore Square burst into tears with these moving words.
"We have never forgotten and will not forget the help, which the Pakistani people delivered, during our War of Independence by piling up their own bread."
'We stand with Kashmiris'
The Turkish president said what had happened in Turkey all those years ago was being repeated in Indian occupied Kashmir today.
"Events that happened a hundred years ago in Çanakkale in Turkey are being repeated in Indian occupied Kashmir and Turkey will continue to raise its voice against the oppression.
"Today, the issue of Kashmir is as close to us as it is to you [Pakistanis]," he said, reiterating Turkey's support for Kashmiris.
"No distance can build a wall between the hearts of believers. If there is torture against any believers in the world, it's our duty to help them."
Referring to Kashmir multiple times in his address, Erdogan also said: "Our Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered from inconveniences for decades and these sufferings have become graver due to unilateral steps taken in recent times.
"The Kashmir issue can be resolved not through conflict or oppression but on the basis of justice and fairness. Such a solution will serve the interests of all parties concerned. Turkey will continue to stand by justice, peace and dialogue in the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
"Like in the past, we will continue to support Pakistan in the future," he vowed.
Erdogan also recalled Pakistan's support and solidarity after the recent earthquakes in his country.
"Following the Elazığ-Malatya earthquake, we received solidarity messages from all Pakistan, from the head of state to the citizens on the streets," he added.
War on terror
Shedding light on Pakistan's sacrifices in the war on terror, Erdogan said:
"Pakistan is on the way to peace and stability; peace and stability don't come in a few days, they require work.
"We applaud Pakistan's efforts to rid this region from terrorism. The country has been affected by terrorism.
"Pakistan and Turkey are the countries that have been most affected by terrorism due to their geographic location [...] we will continue to cooperate with Pakistan on counter-terrorism," he said.
"On this occasion, I would like to emphasise that we appreciate Pakistan's positive contributions to the peace process in Afghanistan. As Turkey, we lent the necessary support to Pakistan and Afghanistan both of which we deem as our brothers and sisters."
'Will support Pakistan in FATF'
Noting that Pakistan is facing political pressure in its bid to get off the FATF grey list, Erdogan said:
"I also want to emphasise that we will give support to Pakistan which is subject to political pressure in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meetings."
"I pray that God makes the solidarity between us strong and permanent.
"As in the past, we will continue to stand by Pakistan in the future."
His comments come days ahead of an FATF meeting in Paris which will decide on Pakistan’s request to be taken off its grey list of non-compliant states.
The Turkish president also said he wanted to turn his country's relationship with Pakistan into one that was rooted in business and trade.
"The strategic economic framework and action plan texts we will sign today will cover a wide range of industries from trade to infrastructure [...] and constitute a road map for us," he said, with regards to today's meetings during his trip to Pakistan.
'Trump's 'deal of the century' is an occupation plan'
Erdogan minced no words in rejecting US President Donald Trump's recently unveiled peace plan for the Middle East, which included a two-state solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict that critics say is heavily tilted in favour of Israel.
"Especially over the past few days, when [US President Donald] Trump and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu took a step about Al-Quds.
"The agreement of the century is not a peace project but in fact a project for occupation," Erdogan said, adding: "We said Jerusalem is our red line. We declared to the whole world that we will not leave Haram al-Sharif to the mercy of the occupying Israeli administration.
"In recent weeks, the American administration announced this plan as the plan of the century; we [Turkey] showed the biggest reaction to this plan of annexation, occupation and demolition."
Joint session of Parliament
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser began the session by welcoming Erdogan, who he said is a "true friend" and brother of Pakistan. He thanked the Turkish president and the great Turkish nation for their clear and just stance on the Kashmir issue.
Members of the armed forces, government leaders, federal ministers and opposition members — including Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan; PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PPP leaders Rehman Malik, Sherry Rehman and Raja Pervez Ashraf; PML-N's Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal; and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider — were in attendance.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani received the Turkish president upon arrival at the Parliament.
Arrival in Pakistan
The Turkish president arrived in Pakistan on Thursday for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening bilateral strategic partnership and economic ties.
Upon his arrival on Thursday, Erdogan was received at the Nur Khan Airbase by the premier.
In what has now become a tradition for special foreign guests, Prime Minister Imran personally drove President Erdogan and the Turkish First Lady Emine Erdoğan from the airport to Prime Minister House.
In his first official engagement for his trip, the Turkish leader held a meeting with President Alvi, which was followed by a banquet.
During their wide-ranging talks, President Alvi extended a warm welcome to President Erdogan and expressed satisfaction over the level of multifaceted engagement between Pakistan and Turkey, according to a press release issued by the President's Secretariat.