PGMA confers Order of Sikatuna on outgoing Turkey envoy

April 7, 2010 10:18 pm 

MANILA, April 7 — President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo this afternoon conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Datu to departing Turkish Ambassador to the Philippines Adnan Basaga.

“It will be sad to see you go,” the President said.

The envoy answered, “I certainly feel sad and I will miss your country so much,” during the farewell call at the Music Room in Malacanang.

Joining the President were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Leslie J. Baja, and the envoy’s wife and select embassy officials.

Basaga, who assumed his post in January 2007, will now return to the head office in Istanbul. He will be replaced by Madam Hatice Pinar Isik.

The Order of Sikatuna is a diplomatic merit given by the Republic of the Philippines to individuals with exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic. It is bestowed on diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered conspicuous services in fostering, developing, and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines, or upon personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs, both in the Home Office and foreign posting.

It may be awarded by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the name of or by authority of the President.

Basaga is the fifth Turkish ambassador to the Philippines. He is credited with strengthening diplomatic, trade and tourism relations between the two countries.

During Basaga’s term, the two countries celebrated the 60th anniversary of friendly and diplomatic relations last year.

Also last year, the two countries exchanged official visits, with President Arroyo visiting Turkey in September 2009.

Baja said one of the envoy’s last accomplishments were negotiations on the air agreement between the two nations, which commenced in February and is ready for signing by both countries.

Under the air agreement, Turkish Airlines will make direct flights to Manila and Philippine Airlines will fly directly to Istanbul.

The flight from Istanbul to Manila is around 11 hours while Manila could be a hub point of airlines flying to Europe and North America.

In 2007, Basaga pushed for increased tourism between the two countries by opening direct flights from Turkey to Manila.

Back then, he expressed the hope that before his tour of duty ends, he will be the one to receive Turkish Airlines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He arrived in the Philippines in January 2007.

Basaga has also been pushing for expanded trade between the Philippines and Turkey by meeting with the Cebu business community, including players in the export and tourism sectors.

Turkey exports ships, boats, tobacco and man-made staple fabrics to the Philippines, he added.

The Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Turkey have enjoyed 60 years of bilateral relationship dating back in 1946 while Turkey was one of the first nations to recognize Philippine independence, Basaga added. (PNA) scs/OPS/ssc

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