Turkey is focusing on enhancing political and, especially, economic ties with African countries.
“Turkey is ready to improve cooperation with Zambia in the fields of agriculture, mining, energy and transportation. Turkey will pay close attention to the African continent and especially to Zambia,” Turkish President Abdullah Gül said at a press conference Monday.
Ankara hosted Rupiah Bwezani Banda, the president of Zambia, in his first official visit to Turkey. Agreements to establish channels for political consultations, as well as agreements on civil aviation and education of diplomats were signed during the visit. The two countries are working on more agreements that will be geared toward economic relations.
Speaking at the press gathering, Gül said Turkey was set to open an embassy in Zambia as part of a wider program to launch diplomatic missions in Africa. “Turkey has boosted relations with African countries over recent years with a view to improve economic, trade and political ties as well as to help them overcome their problems,” Gül said.
Noting he has paid frequent visits to African countries, Gül said Turkey has received support from nearly all the African countries to win a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
The Zambian president said Turkey’s development level was a surprise for them. “We will work with a competent partner in order to lift up my country,” he said.
Turkey has been implementing an “Open Up to Africa Policy” since 1998. In 2008, Turkey held the first summit of cooperation with African leaders and won the status of “strategic partner” with the African Union. Since the Turkish government started promoting Africa for investment from Turkish businesses, Turkey’s trade volume with African countries, which was only $5.4 billion in 2003, has increased more than two-fold and exceeded $12 billion in 2007. Turkey’s target is to reach a trade volume with Africa of $30 billion by the end of 2010.
Turkey would also like to use its two-year U.N. Security Council position to extend its influence deep into the African continent. The number of Turkish embassies on the continent has risen from 12 to 17 in the past two years and preparations are under way to inaugurate 10 more.