Turkey has continued to support Sudan in the areas of economy and diplomacy in the face of protests, a Sudanese minister said yesterday.
"Turkey's support to stabilization efforts in Sudan continues in the current political process," Federal Minister Hamid Mumtaz told the official SUNA News Agency.
Concluding a four-day visit to Turkey, Mumtaz met with Vice President Fuat Oktay to deliver a letter from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about bilateral relations between the two countries.
Mumtaz, also a representative of the Sudanese president, said Erdoğan signed 22 agreements in the economic and diplomatic fields during his visit to Sudan in 2017.
Sudan has been rocked by popular protests for the last two months, with demonstrators decrying al-Bashir's failure to remedy the country's longstanding economic woes.
Sudanese officials say around 31 people have been killed since the protests began in December, although the opposition puts the number closer to 50. A nation of 40 million people, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three quarters of its oil output, its main source of foreign currency, when South Sudan seceded in 2011.
Turkey was among the first countries to open an embassy in Sudan, after its independence in 1956. Erdoğan paid an official visit to Sudan in 2017 where the president and his delegation were given a very warm welcome. Oktay himself also paid a three-day visit to Sudan in December 2018. As part of its recent policy of increased engagement in Africa, Turkey has put special emphasis on Sudan. Following the historic visit by Erdoğan, the two countries have worked to increase their overall trade volume from $500 million to $10 billion. "We do not see Africa as a market or a source of cheap labor. Rather, we see Africa as a strategic partner. We have signed agreements to establish High-Level Strategic Cooperation Councils," Turkish Ambassador to Sudan İrfan Neziroğlu told Daily Sabah in an interview in August 2018.
"And Africa sees Turkey as a hope. This is why Turkey's achievements, from economy to sports, are celebrated passionately here. Turkey needs Africa and Africa needs Turkey," he added.