ANKARA, 29 August 2016:  Chief Minister Punjab Muhammed Shehbaz Sharif met with the highest leadership in Turkey as he visited Istanbul from 25-27 August for reaffirming Pakistan’s strong support and solidarity in the aftermath of the coup attempt of July 15.  He was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including the Provincial Law Minister, Members of Parliament, and senior officials.

Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif called on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Tarabya Kosku on 27 August, where he conveyed the cordial greetings of the President, Prime Minister, and people of Pakistan. He paid rich tributes to the dynamic and visionary leadership of President Erdogan, which proved to be the decisive factor in preserving the will of the people and safeguarding democracy.  The Chief Minister praised the people of Turkey for the courage, commitment and immense sacrifices with which they defeated the coup attempt on the streets and squares of Turkey.

The Chief Minister and his delegation separately met with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım. While reaffirming solidarity after the coup attempt, and offering the deepest sympathies and condolences of the leadership and people of Pakistan over the loss of innocent lives in recent terrorist attacks in Turkey, the Chief Minister underscored the desire to further deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields. Measures to promote Pakistan-Turkey fraternal ties, especially  in the trade, commercial and investment fields, were discussed.

Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, İsmail Kahraman, received the Pakistan delegation at Dolmabahçe Palace and hosted a working luncheon in their honour. During the meeting,  Speaker Kahraman reiterated Turkey’s gratitude for Pakistan’s strong support, including the unanimous resolutions passed by the National Assembly and Senate of  Pakistan. He also expressed thanks for the recent visit of Pakistan Parliamentary delegation, which came to reinforce the same message.

During their stay, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the delegation attended the opening ceremony of the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge on 26 August. The Chief Minister closely interacted with the Turkish leadership and foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony. While characterizing the Bridge as an “engineering marvel,” he congratulated the Turkish government and people over this highly impressive achievement. 

Earlier, in order to further deepen bilateral collaboration in the health sector, the Chief Minister had detailed delegation-to-delegation talks with Minister for Health Recep Akdağ. They also witnessed the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Turkey and the Punjab Government for closer cooperation in the health sector.

Apart from meeting with senior executives of leading Turkish companies including Zorlu and Koç Holding, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif met with the President of Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI) Mehmet Ergün Turan. They discussed further follow-up on the MOI signed earlier with TOKI on technical support for building low-cost housing units in Punjab. Mayor of Istanbul Dr. Kadir Tobpaş hosted a dinner for the Chief Minister and his delegation.

The Pakistan delegation included Senior Minister Punjab Rana Sanaullah, Chairman of Pakistan-Turkey Friendship Group in National Assembly of Pakistan Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Member National Assembly Shaista Pervaiz Malik, Advisor to Chief Minister Khawaja Ahmad Hassan and senior officials. Ambassador of Pakistan Sohail Mahmood and Consul General Istanbul Dr. Yusuf Junaid also attended the meetings.