Turkiye aims to further deepen its ties with continental Africa: Foreign minister


ANKARA

Turkiye plans to improve its relations with the African continent, and take tangible steps to deepen ties with regional organizations such as the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the country’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu’s remarks came at a joint news conference held in the capital Ankara with his Liberian counterpart Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah.

They discussed all aspects of bilateral ties, developments in Africa, security issues, and the Russia-Ukraine war, Cavusoglu said.

The measures against FETO — the terror group behind the defeated coup of 2016 in Turkiye — and the situation of Turkish companies in Liberia were also discussed during the meeting, he added.

“We will further deepen our relations with African countries, the African Union, and regional organizations such as ECOWAS,” he said. “We will take more tangible steps on many issues in the period ahead.”

Cavusoglu noted that it is of great importance to sign an agreement on economic cooperation to achieve the goals, adding that the drafts in this regard would be ready within a month.

The two countries have also begun negotiations on a memorandum of understanding on the defense industry, he said, noting that they also boost their cooperation in training special forces, and the fight against terrorism and organized crime.

He said there was a wide range of areas for cooperation, including the tourism and finance sectors, and several Turkish companies were ready to invest in the energy sector of Liberia.

With their bilateral relations growing at a quick pace, Turkiye has already started works to build an embassy in the Liberian capital on instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he noted, saying Ankara was ready to provide all kinds of assistance to Liberia, which plans to open its own embassy in the Turkish capital.

The Turkish minister welcomed Liberia’s support to fight the FETO terror group by taking over its schools, and said Turkiye’s Maarif Foundation could open new schools in the country or take the responsibility of schools taken over from the group.

Cavusoglu also commented on discussions about Frontex, the border agency of the EU, which has been under fire recently for allegedly taking part in illegal pushbacks of irregular migrants.

Responding to a question on the withholding of the Frontex budget on its role in the Greek pushback of migrants, he said Turkish authorities had already shared evidence showing how Greece pushed back irregular migrants on Aegean islands and Turkish borders.

“This is because some part of the budget was used for pushback of migrants. The Frontex did not only watch this, it also bore witness and participated in these inhumane practices. The withholding of the budget and resignation of the executive director do not acquit the Frontex,” he said, and underlined that the pushbacks resulted in deaths of migrants on certain occasions.

He further noted that both Greece and the Frontex, and accordingly the EU, had responsibility for the death of migrants and that Turkish authorities were willing to share documents and information on pushbacks if the European courts were to investigate the matter sincerely.

Kemayah, for his part, said the bilateral relations have gained momentum in the recent years and that he met Cavusoglu five times in the past year alone.

“We have said that we wanted to further advance our bilateral ties and strengthen our bond,” he said and noted that the diplomatic relations between the two countries were relatively new but were promising.

The foreign minister of Liberia said his country was ready to cooperate in fighting terrorism and he was glad that they would be collaborating closely with Turkiye in this regard.

Noting that the population in Liberia was young, making it necessary to provide the youth with opportunities, he also thanked Turkiye and its aid agency TIKA for its moves in Liberia.

* Writing by Ali Murat Alhas



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