Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday underlined that Western countries for years exploited the continent of Africa for their own interests and reiterated his message for a fairer world by calling the oppressed to act together for this aim.
Erdoğan on Monday held a joint press conference with his Angolan counterpart, Joao Lourenco, after one-on-one talks and delegation meetings at the first stop of his three-nation Africa tour also including Nigeria and Togo.
Referring to his recently published book “A Fairer World Is Possible,” Erdoğan said: “We have a demand for a just world. We need to join hands for a just world. We must not be afraid. If we fear, this persecution will encircle Africa.”
France used Africa as a continent for exploitation, Erdoğan noted and also reminded that Angola was also exploited by Western powers for years.
“You see what is happening in Libya and Somalia. The persecution still continues. To overcome this, we need to build a fairer world together,” he added.
In the book, titled “A Fairer World Is Possible,” Erdoğan highlights the deadlocks that global politics face, including injustice, refugee crises, international terrorism and Islamophobia. He also exposes the discrimination and double standards in the world via the case of the United Nations.
The president draws attention to problems related to the global body such as shortcomings in terms of its legitimacy, inclusiveness, efficiency, representation and governance, reiterating that it is in need of comprehensive reform.
As a solution, Erdoğan suggests fair representation and the removal of the veto privilege that is currently limited to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China.
The two leaders signed various agreements in order to enhance cooperation between the two countries.
Speaking at the press conference, Erdoğan said they had in-depth discussions about their relations, especially in the field of the defense industry and the fight against terrorism, and added that Turkey has acted with a holistic partnership approach in its ties with Africa.
“We will hold the 3rd Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul on Dec. 17-18. As you know, we started direct flights to Angola as of Oct. 13. On visa liberalization, my dear friend said, ‘There is no need to wait,'” he said.
Erdoğan also said that the facilitating steps they will take in the visa issue will accelerate the transportation of people and products. “We are ready to further develop our cooperation,” he stressed.
The president stated that there are serious cooperation opportunities between the two countries.
Following an approach based on the win-win principle, Turkey has been deepening its relations with African countries, he said.
Erdoğan also underlined that Turkey will continue to support Angola in its fight against terrorism.
On Turkey’s cooperation with Angola in the field of the defense industry, Erdoğan said that Turkey is ready to provide every possible support.
Then, addressing Angola’s parliament, Erdoğan stated that the fate of humanity cannot and should not be left at the mercy of a handful of countries that won the Second World War.
“There are still those who cannot accept the independence, freedom and equality gains of the African peoples. We have been witnessing the recurrence of this indigestion recently,” he said.
“As Turkey, we reject western-centered orientalist approaches to the African continent. We embrace the peoples of the African continent without discrimination,” he added.
Erdoğan arrived late Sunday in Angola’s capital Luanda, the first leg of his four-day diplomacy tour of three African countries.
Erdoğan was welcomed by Angola’s Foreign Minister Tete Antonio and Alp Ay, Turkey’s ambassador to the Southern African nation, at Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport.
Accompanying the president were first lady Emine Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Trade Minister Mehmet Muş.
The streets of Luanda were decorated to celebrate Erdoğan’s arrival. Billboards showing Erdoğan could also be seen in Nigeria’s capital Abuja ahead of the visit.
The Turkish president was welcomed by his Angolan counterpart Lourenco with an official ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
Erdoğan hosted Lourenco in July, and the two leaders inked agreements of cooperation on air transport, mutual promotion of investments, hydrocarbons and mining, renewable energy and visa exemptions.
During the visit, Erdoğan vowed to boost Turkey’s trade volume with the Southern African nation Angola. Turkey will stand by Angola as a country that has proven itself in its fight against terrorism, Erdoğan also stated.
Erdoğan’s tour is seen as part of the country’s African policy to contribute to the economic and social development of the continent with peace and stability, as well as to develop bilateral relations on the basis of equal partnership and mutual benefit.
The president has officially visited 28 African countries to date and is now touring Angola, Nigeria and Togo. This trip is the first official visit from Turkey at the presidential level to Angola.
Turkey’s recent close contact with Africa continues to increase and despite the ongoing pandemic, Erdoğan hosted six African leaders over the summer term. In this process, Erdoğan also carried out telephone diplomacy with nine African leaders.
The trip is significant as Turkey is hosting two important events in Istanbul: the two-day Turkey-Africa 3rd Economy and Business Summit on Oct. 21 and the two-day Turkey-Africa 3rd Partnership Summit on Dec. 17.
Turkey’s African policy, which encompasses political, humanitarian, economic and cultural spheres, is part of its multidimensional foreign policy.
To this effect, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased from just 12 in 2002 to 43 in 2021. Turkey’s trade with Africa climbed to $25.3 billion by 2020 from just $5.4 billion at the end of 2003, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Next stop Nigeria
The second stop on the African tour is Nigeria on Oct. 18-19. Erdoğan, who last paid an official visit to Nigeria in March 2016, hosted President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Complex in October 2017. Erdoğan had told the Nigerian leader that Turkey was ready to seize all opportunities to activate the true potential of the economic relations between the two countries.
Sources said Erdoğan will also meet Buhari and attend the Turkey-Nigeria Business Forum on his second visit to the West African country.
Steps will be taken to harness the true potential of the two countries’ relations during the talks, which will include bilateral economic and regional developments. Three agreements in the fields of hydrocarbons, mining and energy are also expected to be signed.
Nigeria is Turkey’s top trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa with a trading volume of $754 million in 2020, which is expected to rise to more than $1 billion.
The fight against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, will also be discussed during the Turkish president’s visit.
This will include a request to transfer FETÖ schools that continue to operate in several parts of Nigeria to the Turkish Maarif Foundation.
The last stop of the African tour will be Togo. Erdoğan held a telephone conversation with Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe in August. During the meeting, where bilateral relations were discussed, Erdoğan stated that cooperation with Togo in the field of defense would have a positive effect on the development of relations. Erdoğan is expected to be accompanied by businesspeople on his West Africa tour.
Having adopted a one-dimensional foreign policy shaped by its relations with the West for decades, Turkey has shifted to a more diversified, multidimensional and independent foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Turkey’s opening up to Africa, which dates back to the action plan adopted in 1998, took shape in 2005, which Ankara declared the “Year of Africa.” Turkey was accorded observer status by the Africa Union the same year.
In a reciprocal move, the African Union declared Turkey its strategic partner in 2008, and relations between Africa and Turkey gained momentum when the first Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit was held in the commercial capital Istanbul with the participation of representatives from 50 African countries that year.
Turkish Airlines offers flights to 60 different destinations across 39 African countries, while the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) has nearly 30 coordination centers in the continent. The Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) has joint business councils with more than half of the nations in Africa.
The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit will be held in Istanbul on Dec. 17-18. Many heads of state and government from African countries, ministers, high-level officials and representatives of regional and international organizations will attend the summit, which Erdoğan will also attend. At the summit, within the framework of the Africa Partnership Policy, the steps to be taken in line with Turkey’s goals of supporting the continent’s development efforts and increasing commercial, cultural and human relations will be evaluated. The first Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit was held in 2008 and the second in 2014 in Equatorial Guinea.
First lady’s book
Turkey’s first lady last month also introduced her book on her travels in Africa for the first time at the Turkish House in New York. Emine Erdoğan introduced her book “My Travels to Africa” for the first time to spouses of country leaders, the U.N. and other international representatives, as well as representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and foreign mission chiefs.
The book, which is dedicated to Emine Erdoğan’s mother, covers the first lady’s visits from 2014 to 2020 to 23 countries, including Algeria, Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Senegal.
Before the “African Initiative” led by Turkey in 2005, she said Africa was a distant continent for many in Turkey. When Africa is mentioned, “colonialism, poverty, and hungry, thirsty children” come to mind, she said.
Africa also meant a photo album in which the shame of humanity “brought rewards to its owner. This situation changed forever with my first trip to Africa,” she said, adding that she accompanies her husband on foreign visits as much as possible.
“I pay particular attention to the problems of African women and children, and I want to be a bit of a balm for their open wounds. This desire of mine is a gift from my nation, in which I was born and grew up, who raised me, shaped me and embroidered this culture into my bones,” she added.
She expressed hope that this book will lead to goodness, cooperation and better cross-cultural understanding, and strengthen the bridges of friendship between Turkey and Africa. Royalties from the book will be used for development, education, and health and cultural support to African women and children through the African Handicrafts Market and Culture House. It will be a symbol of friendship and solidarity between Turkey and Africa, she added.
Every year, the first lady participates in various international events for the development of disadvantaged groups living in Africa within the scope of the U.N. and meets with African first ladies and representatives of NGOs. In recent years, Emine Erdoğan has continued to support intercultural interaction by patronizing African cookbooks and African proverbs.