Turkey pledges backing for Philippines peace process

Turkey pledges backing for Philippines peace process

MANILA - Anadolu Agency
Turkey pledges backing for Philippines peace process

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu meet students after arriving in the Philippines on Nov. 17. AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu arrived in the Philippines on Nov. 17 and pledged Turkey’s full support for the Mindanao peace process, local media reported.

Davutoğlu promised to back the process that aims to end a decades-old armed conflict in the Muslim-majority south, Philippines broadcaster PTV News said.

The report stated that the Turkish prime minister had promised that senior diplomat Haydar Berk would focus on the disarming of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as agreed by a peace pact between the government and the Front, once the largest group fighting for greater autonomy in the southern Philippines.

Berk, a former permanent representative at NATO, has been appointed as chair of the Independent Decommissioning Body. The body comprises of foreign experts to assist in the disarming process.

“I have instructed him [Berk] to stay in the Philippines and, if needed, to not come back to Turkey until he finishes this job,” Davutoğlu joked during a lunch hosted by President Benigno Aquino III, the GMA News website reported.

He also praised the Aquino government’s “very wise, visionary approach to integrate all the country for the same objective of peace, stability and prosperity.”

“Turkey will always be at your side in this very important initiative. We are proud that you invited us to be part of this process,” he added.

Last September, Aquino submitted the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to the Philippines’ Congress. The legislation seeks to create a new political entity called “Bangsamoro” to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Davutoğlu’s two-day visit marks the first official visit to the archipelago by a Turkish premier and marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The leaders are also expected to sign an agreement on air transport.