By Jerry Munthali
The Turkey-Zambia Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group constituted to lobby for Zambia’s interests in the 600-member Grand National Assembly of Turkey, has pledged to help strengthen the existing warm relations between the two countries.
Turkey-Zambia Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group chairman, Atilla Odunc said Turkey was ready to share with Zambia its vast experience in agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, energy, education, defence and security through institution-to-institution co-operation between the National Assembly of Zambia and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
Mr Odunc who is Bursa Member of Parliament (MP), said this during a bilateral meeting with Zambia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Dr Joseph Chilengi at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey buildings in Ankara yesterday.
“We strongly believe that this inter-parliamentary friendship group which has started well, will continue working hard to strengthen relations between our friendly countries in years to come,” he said.
Mr Odunc who was flanked by Turkey-Zambia Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group vice chairperson Yunus Kilic and Secretary-General, Orhan Kircali added that the high-level reciprocal visits between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Zambian counterpart, Edgar Lungu have helped to strengthen relations between the two countries.
And Mr Kircali who is Samsun MP, said the Turkey-Zambia Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group was excited that the National Assembly of Zambia was in the process of establishing the Zambia-Turkey Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group.
He further said Zambia could benefit from Turkey’s strong and self-sustaining defence industry through participation in the Defence Fair.
“We are also happy to learn that we have 136 Zambian students here in Turkey under the sponsorship of the Turkish authorities, we want to collaborate more on this,” Mr Kircali said.
And Mr Kilic said the Turkey-Zambia Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group was looking forward to visiting Zambia to share experiences and best practices with their Zambian counterparts.
Meanwhile, Dr Chilengi said some of the 12 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) signed between Zambia and Turkey during President Erdogan’s visit to Zambia required ratification by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
Dr Chilengi said Zambia will need the support of the Turkey-Zambia Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group in the approval of the agreements so that they can be implemented.
“It is Zambia’s desire to take the relations between our two countries to a higher level through initiatives such as the parliamentary friendship groups,” Dr Chilengi said.
He further underscored the need for the two countries to promote political dialogue as an enabler for cooperation in all sector under the leadership of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the National Assembly of Zambia.
Dr Chilengi also assured that the National Assembly of Zambia was in the process of reciprocating by constituting a similar group once Parliament resumes sitting on February 12, 2019.