Today, we celebrate Africa Day with enthusiasm in the Continent and in Türkiye.
We remember with appreciation African nations coming together under a single roof on May 25th, 1963. This day signifies a tough journey for independence and freedom, and a common consciousness based on solidarity and unity of the Continent. The success story attained in the following decades in this spirit, through the efforts of powerful and acclaimed African Leaders, attests to the bright future of the Continent.
Despite the historical injustices during colonial times, global apathy towards natural disasters and famine, and unacceptable external interferences, the strength of African nations to withstand these enormous challenges is outstanding. With its young and dynamic population, vast resources, rich and deep-rooted culture and history, the African Continent promises enormous potential for a more just, more equitable and better world in the 21st Century. Africa means hope and we are partners in this journey.
Türkiye is in a privileged position. In the last 20 years, Türkiye has become an “African hub” in its region with its ever-increasing number of African diplomatic representations along with its dynamic African diaspora comprised of students, business people and tourists. Our 44 Embassies in the Continent as well as 37 African Embassies in Ankara make Africa Day more meaningful for us.
African nations see us as a reliable partner and a close friend. It is a pleasure for us to host African interlocutors, often African leaders, in Ankara every month. President Erdoğan ranks first in terms of the number of visits to Africa.
Turkish Airlines, continues to reunite Africa with the rest of the world, and recovering from the effects of the pandemic, currently flies to 44 destinations in 35 African countries. The presence of African students in universities all over Türkiye is ever increasing, thanks to hundreds of Türkiye Scholarships granted annually. So far, Türkiye has granted over 15 thousand scholarships to African students.
As a strategic partner of the African Union (AU), we have jointly organized three Summits on Türkiye-Africa Partnership in 2008, 2014 and 2021. The Third Partnership Summit was held under the theme “Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity”, on 16-18 December 2021, in İstanbul, with participation of 38 African countries. We are now eagerly implementing the decisions approved at the Summit in close cooperation with all our African friends, in order to bring our relations with the Continent to a whole new and elevated level. We now aim to mutually benefit from our increased collaboration with the AU and African regional organizations in other international platforms such as the UN and the OIC.
Türkiye, also by hosting the UN Technology Bank is proud to be an important development partner for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in implementing UN Sustainable Development Goals. African countries have much to benefit from the Bank’s services in building and enhancing their technology and innovation capacity.
Our shared vision in global issues also plays an important role in advancement of Türkiye-Africa relations. In this framework, Türkiye shares the same basic expectations for the global order long since advocated by African countries on effective multilateralism and structural reform of the UN. In this regard, historical injustices towards the Continent need to be addressed, including by enhancing representation of African countries at the UN Security Council.
It is a collective responsibility to work for maintaining a peaceful, stable and secure Africa. To this end, as a country that has long suffered from terrorism, we are committed to strengthen our cooperation with the AU to fight and eliminate all forms and manifestations of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization, as announced in the Third Summit Joint Declaration.
Our economic cooperation with African nations is ever increasing. By the end of 2021, our trade volume reached 34,5 billion Dollars, increasing almost seven-fold in the past two decades. The Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation we signed with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat will further boost this volume. Our target, however, is beyond trade. Türkiye, has been and will be supporting its African friends in their quest for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development and prosperity based on equal partnership and mutual respect. Hence, we underscore our “win-win” principle on every occasion.
We applaud the robust and innovative policies and programmes introduced by the African Union to expedite the development of the Continent. Agenda 2063 is the flagship programme that can unleash the Continent’s potential and bring about hope and prosperity to all, which we wholeheartedly support. Our Government and official agencies have carried out efforts in line with the 2063 Agenda. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), through its 22 representatives across the Continent, and the National Disaster Relief Agency (AFAD), as well as the Turkish Red Crescent have spearheaded millions of Dollars-worth sustainable development projects and in-kind aid in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centers serve in 7 African countries and Maarif Foundation continues to provide educational services in 25 African countries with 191 institutions.
Even during the most turbulent times, Türkiye continued to be in solidarity with the Continent. We supported our African friends during the pandemic including through vaccine donations.
Owing to our centuries-old historical, cultural and human relations, we will continue to be in unity and solidarity with African countries as strong partners.
Happy Africa Day to all!
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Türkiye