Turkey considers itself a strategic partner of Africa, working together to advance democracy, good governance and prosperity, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.
Çavuşoğlu's remarks appeared in the article titled "Turkey-Africa: Solidarity and partnership," penned by the minister himself, which was also recently published in various media outlets in Africa, including in Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda.
The article comes ahead of the second Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit, which is scheduled to run from November 19 to November 21 in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
"Turkey has never been in a colonial position or relationship with the continent. On the contrary, African nations looked for help from the Ottomans in their struggle against colonial oppressors," Çavuşoğlu said in the article. The Turkish War of Independence, fought almost a century ago, has had a strong influence on the African peoples in their struggle for liberation and independence, he wrote.
Çavuşoğlu said Turkey has never been indifferent to developments in Africa, and has always been in solidarity with the African people in their struggle for freedom from colonialism and national independence.
"Turkey has already made a change and is working for more change not only in Somalia, but in Africa," he said, referring to the Turkish-Somali partnership initiated on August 19, 2011, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – prime minister at the time – landed in Mogadishu along "with his family and a large delegation composed of the different segments of Turkish State and society.
"This flight turned the course of events in Somalia which has been in turmoil for so long with chronic instability and prolonged social strife creating, in turn, a serious humanitarian crisis, coinciding with severe drought and famine," Çavuşoğlu said. From that time onward, he said, the Turkish and Somali people have been striving intensively to ease the effects of the dire situation and to rebuild the country.
The efforts bore fruit, resulting in the "revival of social, economic and political life in Somalia," Çavuşoğlu said, adding that work was in progress for a new and better future.
The minister said that since 2005, the year of Africa in Turkey in conjunction with Turkey's Opening Policy toward Africa – dating back to an Action Plan adopted in 1998 – there has been increased engagement with African countries. Turkey has become an important partner for development, trade and investment in the continent, he said.
"Turkey's Opening Policy toward Africa has now been successfully completed," Çavuşoğlu said. Turkey embarked upon a new policy in 2013 under the name, "Turkey-Africa Partnership," which took the motto of "African issues require African solutions" as its main principle, he said.
Turkey also stood ready to contribute through diplomacy to the peaceful settlement of conflicts, Çavuşoğlu said.
"Turkey will remain committed to fully supporting the African Union in achieving its goals in priority areas which will further consolidate African ownership of African issues. That is why we feel that it is a privilege for Turkey to be a strategic partner of the rising continent of Africa."
Two hundred business leaders and a delegation led by Erdoğan, including Çavuşoğlu, will attend the Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit along with leaders from many countries in Africa.
A Joint Declaration and Action Plan for a Turkish-African partnership from 2015 to 2018 is expected to be approved at the summit with the theme: "A New Model for Partnership for the Strengthening of the Sustainable Development and Integration of Africa."
The plan will include actions in industry, education, health, trade, energy, investment, peace and security.
The African Union declared Turkey a strategic partner in 2008, and a Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit was held in the same year in Istanbul.
Trade volume between Turkey and Sub-Saharan countries has increased more than tenfold over the past 13 years, reaching $7.5 billion in 2013, up from $742 million in 2000, according to data from the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry.