Turkey to open 19 new embassies in Africa

Turkey plans to strengthen its relations with the African continent via 19 new embassies to be opened over the next two years, with a number of these embassies to open before a Turkey-Africa cooperation summit in İstanbul this August.

Turkey to open 19 new embassies in Africa
Turkey plans to strengthen its relations with the African continent via 19 new embassies to be opened over the next two years, with a number of these embassies to open before a Turkey-Africa cooperation summit in İstanbul this August.

With the cooperation summit, Ankara expects to become a member of the "strategic partners group" of Africa. Ankara has already outlined a strategy toward Africa that includes political, commercial and humanitarian dimensions.

In regards to the political aspect, Turkey plans to improve bilateral relations with African countries while also intensifying contacts with African organizations and institutions. To this end, Turkey will open 10 new embassies by the end of this year -- namely in Tanzania, Ghana, Cameroon, Niger, Chad, Mali, Angola, Madagascar, Uganda and Mozambique -- and six or seven of these embassies are scheduled to open before August.

Ambassador Süha Umar, director-general of the department for bilateral political affairs for Africa and East Asia at the Foreign Ministry, said opening these embassies will also encourage Turkish investment in African countries.

"We also believe that we have a humanitarian responsibility concerning Africa. We consider assistance to Africa in fields of democracy, stability, development, education and health a responsibility," Umar said. Turkey's trade volume with African counties, which stood at $5.4 billion in 2003, had reached $12 billion by the end of 2006. Ankara aims at raising this figure to $30 billion in the near future. The Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), which organized a Turkish export fair in Tanzania on May 31-June 3 of last year, plans to establish a trade and investment bridge between the two countries as well as develop business opportunities there.

TUSKON held the first Turkey-Africa Foreign Trade Bridge program in May of 2006 and plans to hold its third such program this year. Meanwhile, in line with Turkey's goal of providing assistance for African countries, the Turkish Cooperation and Development Administration (TİKA) has opened three offices on the continent since 2005.

President Abdullah Gül is scheduled to attend a regular intergovernmental meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which will be held in Accra, Ghana, in late April.

In late February, the president was scheduled to kick off a tour to the African continent that would take in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville). Gül had to postpone the visit due to a recent military incursion by the Turkish army into northern Iraq to eliminate the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bases there.

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Last Mod: 11 Mart 2008, 13:01
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