Turkey’s ambassador to South Sudan on Tuesday pledged Ankara’s support for the national dialogue initiative launched by President Salva Kiir a year ago to end four years of civil war.
Hasan Sevilir Asan made the pledge during a meeting with the national steering committee in the capital Juba.
In December 2016 Kiir launched a national dialogue initiative urging opposition groups and South Sudan’s people to join a dialogue to discuss all pressing issues, saying it would help unite the country and reconcile the people, who have been deeply divided by conflict since 2013.
“With regard to the IGAD revitalization process and national dialogue initiative, we will offer our support,” Asan said, referring to the East African Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) trade bloc.
“We will do our best to support the dialogue activities, we will implement two or three projects including technical help such as office space,” he added.
Asan said Ankara will remain one of the key partners for development in South Sudan, reiterating its support for the national dialogue initiative and the ongoing High-Level Revitalization process in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Gabriel Yoah, deputy co-chair of the dialogue steering committee, said Turkey and South Sudan have historical ties dating back to the 18th century.
“Turks were here in South Sudan during Turco-Egyptian rule before the British and we appreciate support from Turkish people,” he said.
He said the initiative is meant to open up avenues to discuss political, social and economic problems facing South Sudan, and also offer a platform for reconciliation and healing in the young country.
South Sudan has been mired in conflict between Kiir’s government and rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar since December 2013.
The conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced almost 4 million people from their homes, including over a million refugees who have fled to neighboring countries
Turkey’s IHH aid group ‘most recognized NGO in world’
We are the most recognized nongovernmental organization in the world with almost 30 years of experience, Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) head Bulent Yildirim has said.In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Yildirim said: “The IHH has become a trademark in the humanitarian aid field. We are well-known by both, governments and people across the world.”The IHH is currently taking care of more than 90,000 orphans in 52 different countries apart from 75 cities of Turkey; 170,000 orphans benefited from Orphan Solidarity Days projects around the world in 2017.The IHH opened the world's largest children’s living center in southeastern Hatay province of Reyhanli district last year. The center can accommodate nearly 1,000 children.One of IHH`s main goal is to increase the number of refugee camps and schools, especially inside Syria.“There is an increasing number of orphans in Syria and Iraq due to war. If these orphans don't receive education, they will be lost. That's why IHH is constructing universities and increasing the number of schools in 2018," he said.He also spoke about the organization's role in opening prosthetic workshops.“Additionally, Turkey’s largest prosthetic and orthosis workshop has been founded by us,” Yildirim said.“We will continue to construct new prosthetic and orthosis workshops in various regions in Turkey and abroad in 2018.”- Role in mediationThe IHH head also spoke about his organization’s role in finding the missing and kidnapped people from around the world.“We have mediated in finding many missing and kidnapped people in the world. It includes people from Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, France, the U.S., Italy, Ukraine and Russia,” he said.“The states who consider us as a dangerous organization also ask for our help in finding their missing citizens. Why they consider us dangerous? Because we do not make any discrimination.”He clarified that the IHH does not discriminate on the basis of race or faith in its humanitarian work.“Regardless of their faith or race, being oppressed is enough for us to help the needy.“We go to Japan and Haiti. We don't try to convert them. We go there to just help. This vision and understanding is dangerous for some imperialist powers," he said.“Conversely, imperial powers use aid agencies as an intelligence agency. Thus, these agencies act as a fifth column and gather information on society. Then, these imperialists start planning …occupation there.”- Record cataract surgeriesOver the last decade, the IHH has also carried out some 100,000 cataract surgeries on needy patients in 14 African countries, among them Sudan, Ghana, Ethiopia, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Niger, Mozambique, and Somalia."We have reached our goals in 2017 for cataract surgeries with around 100,000 operations," Yildirim said.The IHH cataract surgeries project started 10 years ago with the motto “If you see, they will see”.“We built hospitals and medical faculties in many African countries in 2017,” he added.Moreover, the aid group has opened more than 6,000 water wells opened in 33 countries so far.Emergency food aid was delivered to 155,000 people affected by drought in Somalia and Ethiopia in 2017.The IHH also helped 300,000 people in need in Yemen alone in 2017.A 1,200-person capacity mosque was also opened in Vietnam last year.Over a million people benefited from IHH works in Palestine in 2017 as well. The IHH also delivered aid to 555,000 Rakhine refugees in Bangladesh in 2017.
Turkey in intense cooperation with Africa
The development of commercial and political relations between Turkey and Africa these past years has attracted attention ahead of the Second Turkey-Africa Ministerial Review Conference in Istanbul to take place on Feb. 11-12. The conference is co-organized by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the African Union Commission with the attendance of 19 African countries. It is being held four years after the Africa-Turkey Summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in November 2014.The upcoming conference is also symbolic in the sense that it coincides with the 10th anniversary of the African Union Summit of 2008 in which Turkey was declared a strategic partner of the African Union. According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry's press information note about the conference, it will be attended by a large number of AU member states, including the representatives of Rwanda, Guinea, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal, Libya, South Africa, Uganda, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Togo, Gabon and Chad, as well as AU Commission representatives. The note said Djibouti, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Somalia and Tanzania would be invited by Turkey as observers. It added that one of the objectives of the conference is to review the preparations for the Third Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit which will take place in Istanbul in 2019. The conference also aims to review the progress achieved with regards to the partnership and discuss steps that can be taken in order to strengthen the cooperation between Africa and Turkey, the note said.Closer ties The first Turkey-Africa summit was held in 2008 in Istanbul, the second one in 2014 in Malabo Equatorial Guinea and the third summit is scheduled for 2019 in Turkey. According to diplomatic sources, Turkey intends to continue it policy towards closer cooperation with the African Union as it attaches great importance to sharing political and cultural experiences and facilities and resources with African countries. Since 2004, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid official visits to 24 African countries accompanied by ministers, bureaucrats and businessmen where he pioneered in the signing of many bilateral treaties between Turkey and African countries. Turkey currently has 40 embassies in African countries. They numbered 12 in 2009. There are 33 African embassies in Ankara. Turkey aims to open embassies in all African countries. Turkey also provides an annual support of $1 million to the African Union since 2009, a source said.Investment, aid and trade In 2015, Turkey’s official development assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa was $395.77 million. Turkey’s bilateral trade volume with Africa increased three-fold from 2003 to reach $18.8 billion in 2017, as exports totaled $11.6 billion and imports $7.1 billion. Total Turkish investment in Africa is estimated to have surpassed $6 billion, the source said.Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) of Turkey has established business councils with 35 African countries and the first Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum was held in Istanbul on 2-3 November 2016. The first Turkey-Africa Agriculture Ministers Meeting was held in Antalya, Turkey, in April 2017.Turkish hospitals in Africa The hospitals built by Turkey have been extending a helping hand to thousands of patients in different regions of Africa. Turkey opened the Somalia-Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan Training and Research Hospital in Mogadishu in 2015. As part of a protocol signed by Turkey and Somalia, the Turkish Health Ministry will continue to financially support the hospital and send health staff for the next five years after which the hospital will be handed over to Somalia. The protocol also suggests development of a tertiary care services model and the provision of quality health services to the Somali people. The source said the Nyala Turkish-Sudanese Research and Training Hospital was also one of the biggest humanitarian projects Turkey has ever realized in Africa. The hospital does not only attract patients from Sudan, but also from Cameroon, Chad, Gambia and other countries in the region, the source added. Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Red Crescent in early 2017, launched a nationwide donation campaign “Umudu Ol” in Turkey to assist drought-ridden East African countries. Following the campaign, Congress of Health in Africa was organized in Istanbul on July 20-21 2017.Sharing experiences in AfricaTurkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) currently operates 21 Program Coordination Offices in Africa.The aid agency has carried out long-running and sustainable development models through its regional offices across the continent.Turkish Airlines also flies to 51 destinations in 33 countries in Africa.The Turkish Ministry of National Education hosted the first Turkey-Africa Education Ministers Conference in Istanbul on 19-21 October 2017 in cooperation with the Maarif Foundation.Turkey has provided undergraduate, graduate and doctorate scholarships to more than 8,000 African students since 1992.The Turkish Military Training Center in Mogadishu became fully operational at the end of September 2017 and it is providing training for personnel that will form the backbone of the Somali National Army, the source added.The source said the training center is being seen as a light of hope for restructuring the army in Somalia, which has seen recurring conflicts.Promoting African handicraftsAfrica Handicrafts Center and Culture House was also opened in the old town of Ankara under the patronage of the First Lady Emine Erdogan in 2016.At the center, handmade products are being sold to provide revenue for African women.
Turkey-Africa look to boost relations in upcoming meet
Turkey's Permanent Representative to the African Union Fatih Ulusoy said relations with Africa have been gathering momentum in recent years. Ulusoy, also Turkey's ambassador to Ethiopia, spoke to Anadolu Agency ahead of a major Turkey-Africa Ministerial Review Conference -- the second since 2008 -- the year when strategic partnership between Turkey and Africa kickstarted. The Second Summit at the level of heads of state and government was held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in November 2014. The upcoming ministerial meeting in Istanbul on Feb. 12 is therefore a precursor to a 2019 Third Turkey-Africa Summit where the tone and agenda of deliberations would be set. “This is an even more important occasion for us as this year marks the 10th anniversary of Turkey-Africa partnership,” Ulusoy said adding 19 African nations have been invited of which five will attend the ministerial meeting as observers. According to the ambassador, one of the issues on the agenda will be taking stock of what Turkey has done for Africa, and exploring ways of further cooperation. Turkey, he said, has contributed significantly for Africa’s economic development and security, fully sharing African Union’s Agenda 2063. Turkey has contributed $1 million annually to the African Union.- Trade and investment “We are committed to support key priority areas [of the African Union] concerning the development and welfare of the African people. “We focus our contribution on the areas where we have agreed together with the African side in the Malabo Summit.” Areas of cooperation, according to him, include trade, investment, peace and security, youth empowerment and technological transfer, rural economy and agriculture, infrastructure, energy, human resources, science and technology as well as tourism and education. In the area of security, he said, “[…] we made some contribution to AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) and the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).” “The trade volume [between Turkey and Africa] stands at $18.8 billion in 2017,” he said. “It shows increase of 12 percent from the previous year.” These figures, according to the ambassador are positive. “Turkish EXIM Bank has been providing loans,” he said, adding the value of loans provided stands now at over $800 million. He added: “Turkish contractors have undertaken 1,150 projects in Africa, worth $60 billion, according to 2016 figures.” “The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) from Turkey to Africa is $6.2billion, according to 2016 figures,” he noted.- Erdogan, the driving force The ambassador said much of the recent success in Africa-Turkey relations were possible because of a committed stance shown by Turkey’s President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan. In recent decades, Erdogan is the single world leader who made by far the most visits to Africa. “The driving force behind Turkey’s efforts in Africa is the vision of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Ulusoy said. “He is the key actor behind Turkey’s Africa vision. “Since he took over Presidency he has visited Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Sudan, Chad and Tunisia.” “This,” Ulusoy said, “shows the attention paid by our president to Africa and I am sure more visits will take place this year.” According to a statement issued by the African Union, the ministerial meeting will be attended by senior officials of the African Union Commission.