Turkey seeks to revive D-8 at Pakistan meet

Turkey seeks to revive D-8 at Pakistan meet

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey seeks to revive D-8 at Pakistan meet

People ride motorcycles past a banner promoting the D-8 Summit in Islamabad. The D-8 was established in 1997 to foster economic and trade ties between the world’s most populous Muslim countries, including Iran and Egypt. REUTERS photo

A summit to be held in Pakistan today aims to revive the futile D-8 organization after 15 years of unsuccessful efforts to foster economic and trade ties between the world’s most populous Muslim countries.

“Some steps have been taken in order to develop economic and trade cooperation among the D-8 countries. But unfortunately these steps are far from meeting expectations. We are going to exert efforts to make intra-D-8 relations more effective, active and to improve cooperation through administrative and other decisions,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters before his departure to Pakistan to attend the D-8 summit.

The D-8 was established by Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia in 1997 as a result of an initiative led by the late prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan. However, the organization became an almost useless group due to the lack of interest of member countries. Not a single project was completed and the trade volume among the members could not be increased.

However, with the Muslim world entering an important period since the commencement of the Arab Spring as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Turkey and Egypt are seeking to increase the D-8’s visibility in the international platform. The election of Mohamed Morsi as the president of Egypt has been an important factor to this end.

The summit will adopt three important documents during the summit, namely the Islamabad Declaration, the Global Vision Document, and the D-8 charter. These documents will both cement the authority of the body as an institution and establish a new road map for the organization’s short and mid-term targets.

Summit to be a turning point
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who is already in Islamabad to join the ministerial meeting of the summit today, described the Islamabad reunion of the D-8 as a turning point.

“At this juncture, we need a new development paradigm based on justice to properly address the new challenges that face not only developing countries but also the world at large. We need to come up with more representative structures which may better respond to the expectations of justice and more equitable sharing of the global welfare,” Davutoğlu said.

He noted that the D-8 previously fell short in meeting its expectations. “To give an example, D-8 total trade share in the world accounts for only 4.87 percent as of 2011. More regrettably, the percentage of intra-D-8 trade in the total trade of the members with the rest of the world stands at inadequate levels, corresponding to just 7.5 percent. These figures are far from the target of 15-20 percent set by the 2008-2018 road-map of the D-8.”

Joint declaration on Gaza
In addition to its economic agenda, leaders of the D-8 countries will also discuss the ongoing crisis in Gaza. Erdoğan, Morsi and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad are expected to hold a three-way meeting to discuss how to deal with the crisis, while Turkey is leading an effort to issue a joint declaration on Gaza strongly condemning Israeli aggression.