Turkey, Philippines sign air services agreement

Natashya Gutierrez
Aside from increasing tourism and trade between the two countries, President Aquino and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu discuss security issues and economic cooperation

STRONGER TIES. Turkey and the Philippines agree to strenghten tourism, trade and economic ties among others. Malacanang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines ­­– After a week of travels, it was President Benigno Aquino III’s turn to welcome a guest to the Philippines.

On Monday, November 17, Aquino engaged in bilateral talks with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, with both leaders vowing stronger ties between the two countries.

In a joint press conference following their talks, Aquino said he and his counterpart “focus on how we can spur greater economic activity between our nations” and improve trade and tourism opportunities through the Air Services Agreement.

Turkish Airlines desires to fly daily to Manila through this agreement. Aquino said said the agreement will also “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.”

Davutoğlu noted that this would address the increasing number of tourists from both countries.

Additionally, Aquino said they are working on a memorandum of understanding on tourism cooperation, which looks at more investments, marketing, and cultural exchanges. There are also plans to convene the inaugural meeting of the Philippines-Turkey Joint Economic Commission in Ankara by 2015.

The joint press conference came after Aquino earlier hosted a luncheon in Davutoğlu’s honor.

ISIS, China

The two countries also agreed to support each other to combat security threats, agreeing gains can be maximized in “a stable and secure environment.”

Aquino said they discussed the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), especially active in neighboring countries of Turkey. Davutoğlu said around 2 million Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey.

“We share the belief that it is the fundamental purpose of government to safeguard the welfare of its people, and we seek to fulfill this purpose by working hand-in-hand with our partners at home, within our regions, and in the larger community of nations,” Aquino said.

As Aquino has done with foreign allies, he also asked Davutoğlu for his support in the Philippines’ case against China over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“The Prime Minister noted that the Philippines’ decision to pursue arbitration is one that advances a durable and peaceful resolution to the issue,” he said.

“Likewise, Turkey stands with the Philippines in calling for the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, as well as an expeditious conclusion of a legally-binding Code.”

Aquino also thanked his ally for its “support and guidance” in the government as it pursued peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Meanwhile, Davutoğlu said while Turkey and the Philippines have had “excellent relations in the past 65 years,” he said it is time for “our relations to upgrade,” especially because the countries are “rising powers in global economy.”

Davutoğlu said he and Aquino decided to have more high-level visits, thus extending an invitation to Aquino to visit Turkey “in the name of our nation, and our country.” Rappler.com

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