President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will take steps to shut down local FETÖ terrorist group-affiliated schools during his southeast African tour starting Sunday, according to the chairman of Turkey's Maarif (Education) Foundation.
The foundation is the only institution authorized to open schools on Turkey's behalf abroad. It has been tasked to take over schools abroad operated by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) following the coup attempt of last July, which Turkey blames the group for.
As part of Erdoğan's official visits to Tanzania, Madagascar, and Mozambique, Turkish officials will meet with local officials to take action on FETÖ-run schools in those countries, Maarif Foundation Chair Cem Zorlu told Anadolu Agency.
"By modernizing the schools in question, the foundation will contribute to the education supported by qualified Turkish and local instructors," he said. "The foundation will prioritize local instructors to hire," he added.
"We took over schools in Guinea, Niger, and Somalia, and signed memorandums of understanding with the governments of Chad, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Senegal, Gabon, and Mauritania," he added.
"Negotiations are still ongoing [for schools] in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Thailand, Cambodia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Iraq, northern Iraq, Moldova, Uganda, Australia, Indonesia and Azerbaijan," he said last week on the issue.
Erdoğan is scheduled to pay a four-day, three-country visit to eastern and southern Africa on Jan. 22-25. Erdoğan will first visit Tanzania on Jan. 22-23, followed by Mozambique on Jan. 23-24 and Madagascar on Jan. 24-25.
Next week's tour follows up his visits to Senegal in February 2016, followed by Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea in April, and Uganda, Kenya and Somalia in May and June.
During his latest visits to Africa, Erdoğan vowed to boost Turkish-African relations. "The growing cooperation between Turkey and Africa shows that a lot can be accomplished by engaging our partners genuinely and finding solutions that serve the interests of both sides," Erdoğan said last June.
"It also sends a strong message about Africa's true potential to the world," he added. When Erdoğan was prime minister, Ankara declared 2005 the Year of Africa, Turkey was accorded observer status by the African Union, and Turkey's official policy of "opening to Africa" gained new momentum.
According to the Turkish government, FETÖ leader Fetullah Gulen - a resident of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania - masterminded the July 15, 2016 defeated coup.
Ankara has also said FETÖ is behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary. The terrorist group is also known for its network of hundreds of schools around the world.
So far, over 80 FETÖ organizations operating abroad, including schools and training centers, have been shut down or transferred to the Turkish government.
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