The Africa tour serves to follow up on the decisions made during the 3rd Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday, once again underlining that Turkey aims to cultivate its relations with the continent based on the principle of mutual gain.
Speaking to journalists during the trip, Erdoğan commented on his visit to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the first stop on his four-day Africa tour, where he met with his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi on Sunday.
“We have realized our third bilateral meeting in the past six months,” he said, highlighting that seven agreements were signed between Turkey and the DRC during the visit.
He also noted that Turkey delivered 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the DRC, pledging to donate 1.1 million more and fulfill the promise made at the summit to distribute 15 million jabs.
On Senegal, Erdoğan noted that this was his fifth visit to the country as he outlined his packed itinerary in the capital Dakar, where he met with his counterpart Macky Sall.
Only two years after the country's independence, Turkey opened its embassy in Dakar, one of the country's earliest embassies in Africa.
Senegal opened its embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara in August 2006, which gave a new impetus to bilateral relations.
The president mentioned that he planned to meet German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who was also in Dakar.
Erdoğan underlined the importance of the final stop on his Africa tour, Guinea-Bissau, as it constitutes the first presidential-level official visit by Turkey to the West African nation, where Turkey will soon open an embassy.
“With the operating of our embassy, our ties with Guinea-Bissau will gain momentum in every field. Opening an embassy means, proving your presence in that country. If you do not have an embassy, you are not there.”
Complimenting President Umaro Sissoco Embalo's handling of the recent coup attempt in the country, Erdoğan said: “As you know, there was a coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau not long ago. Thanks to Mr. Embalo's astute leadership, this heinous attempt was thwarted. As Turkey, we do not accept attempts to change the elected governments through illegitimate means. We have expressed our clear stance on this issue on every occasion, and we will continue to do so with determination,” he added.
Erdoğan also drew attention to the fact that this was his second Africa tour within four months and noted that the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased from just 12 in 2002 to 43 in 2021.
Erdoğan in October embarked on a four-day diplomatic tour to three African countries, Angola, Nigeria and Togo, as part of the country's push to contribute to the economic and social development of the continent with peace and stability while also developing bilateral relations on the basis of equal partnership and mutual benefit.
“Through this, we show that Turkey, which has ancient ties with the continent, is a companion in destiny with Africa.”
“We as Turkey, carry out efforts to win all together by increasing our mutual trade volume and to contribute to the development of Africa with a win-win understanding," Erdoğan stressed, noting that the DRC is 2.3 million square kilometers in size with a population of 90 million and "significant amounts of underground resources” from copper to diamonds.
Saying that the West prevented the DRC from developing and robbed the country, Erdoğan said: “Couldn't the West make any positive contributions to this place so far? They have been coming here for years. Did they provide any support? No. The significance of the importance we give to Africa is becoming clearer day by day.”
The Turkish and African leaders came together for a three-day Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in December, which came fast on the heels of a top-level business forum in October focused on investment and trade.
Over 100 government ministers and 16 presidents from Africa attended the summit that was held under the theme "Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity."
In a final declaration, Turkey and African countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in several fields, including health "through further health sector investments."
The sides agreed on five strategic cooperation areas through a joint action plan from 2022 to 2026: "Peace, Security and Governance," "Trade, Investment and Industry," "Education, Science-Technology-Innovation skills, Youth and Women Development," "Infrastructure Development and Agriculture" and "Promoting Resilient Health Systems."
The first Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit was held in Istanbul, the second in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, and the third at the Istanbul Congress Center in Turkey's commercial capital.
Turkey’s engagement with the African continent has been gaining pace over the years. Since taking office nearly two decades ago, first serving as prime minister, Erdogan has been fostering ties with Africa, presenting Turkey as a fairer player than the continent’s former colonial powers. Ankara has been stressing the desire to advance relations with the continent on the basis of a win-win relationship and equal partnership while observing mutual respect. Both sides have been vowing to tap into their greater potential when it comes to further expanding and deepening relations.
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 Istanbul with the participation of representatives from 50 African countries that year.