The unprecedented conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic render the solidarity symbolised by Africa Day even more significant this year.
The progress made by Africa in recent years in many fields and the developing partnership between Turkey and the continent on the basis of a win-win understanding and mutual respect enables us to look into the future with hope, despite the challenges.
We are working hard to develop our economic and commercial relations, to increase our development and humanitarian aid as well as the number of higher education scholarships and Turkish Airlines flights.
A look at the figures best tells Turkey’s determination to bring the relations to the highest-possible level.
From only 12 in 2002, the number of our embassies in the continent have increased to 42, while there are 36 African embassies in Ankara from 10 in early 2008. Between 2015 and 2019, there were more than 500 high-level visits.
The bilateral trade volume has soared six-fold in the past 18 years. The Turkish Maarif Foundation operates 144 educational institutions and 17 student dormitories across Africa.
With 22 Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) coordination offices in Africa, thousands of students from 54 African countries have graduated from universities in Turkey through the Türkiye Scholarships programme.
Besides the historical and human ties, the foreign policy resulting from political stability in Turkey since 2002 has led to a strategic partnership with the African Union (AU).
Istanbul hosted the inaugural Africa-Turkey Partnership Summit in 2008. Shortly after I was appointed Foreign Affairs minister, I accompanied President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the second Africa-Turkey Partnership Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in November 2014.
When African leaders founded the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the AU, on May 25, 1963, they sought to protect the continent’s affairs by together, united, supporting the independence struggle and discarding the colonial economic model of exporting raw materials to import manufactured goods. Turkey has always sided with Africa in its just cause.
The historic Addis Ababa summit had an impact in Turkey. The news in the Turkish press and records of debate in the Grand National Assembly show the importance given to ties with the new African states.
The quest for independence by Africans was likened to Turkey’s struggle during the founding of the republic 40 years before, in 1923, and Apartheid was fiercely condemned.
Today’s Africa has made significant progress towards the integration that visionary leaders have dreamt of since 1963, and Turkey will lend unconditional support to the AU’s targets for 2063.
WAR ON VIRUS
That is why we wish to hold the Third Africa-Turkey Partnership Summit as soon as possible. The third Turkey-Africa Economy and Business Forum, held in Istanbul in 2016 and 2018, was planned for October.
African countries have taken timely measures against Covid-19. I hope this will continue and that the disease will be eradicated from the continent.
Turkey is among the countries that have overcome the first stage of the pandemic and new cases are below the treatment capacity.
Turkey will increase its assistance capacity, having provided equipment assistance to some countries since the first months of the outbreak.
The direct result of the slowdown of economic activity globally due to protective measures is the decline of production and revenues of every country.
A secondary result is the drop in prices of commodities such as minerals and oil that are used in industrial production and transport.
This affects countries that depend on the sale of such goods for export revenues. These problems require the international community to seek solutions together.
The post-Covid-19 world should be one that requires more, not less, international cooperation than before. Turkey is ready to play its part.
Unfortunately, the picture that has emerged at the international level in past weeks is one where competition — not cooperation — comes to the fore and a perspective that regards the world as a zero-sum game prevails.
Yet history has shown the harmful effects of such brutal rivalry and cold wars.
I believe a united Africa will overcome this challenge as well and that it will contribute to not only the welfare of its peoples, but also to the new world order.
Our partnership will be an example in the post-pandemic world, where solidarity will be critical. That is why the spirit of May 25, 1963 is essential to us all.
I heartily congratulate all Africans on this year’s celebration of Africa Day.
Mr Miroglu is Turkey’s Ambassador to Kenya.