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Presidency of the Republic of Turkey

10/08/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/08/2020 10:27

“We have built bridges from heart to heart between our nation and the Africans”

Addressing the opening session of the Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum, President Erdoğan said: 'Turkey and Africa used to seem far away from one another unfortunately despite their shared history dating back more than a thousand years. There used to be many artificial barriers placed between our two countries, with prejudices eclipsing the truth. We got started by first tearing down these prejudices. We have built bridges from heart to heart between our nation and the peoples of Africa.'

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made a speech at the opening session of the Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum.

'THE PEOPLES OF AFRICA HAVE BEEN LEFT ALONE IN THE FACE OF THE PANDEMIC'

Underlining that the COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated the burden on Africa's shoulders, President Erdoğan noted that the peoples of Africa were left alone in the face of the pandemic, and said: 'The COVID-19 brought into view the distortions inherent in the global system, while also further deteriorating the inequalities originating from the structure of this system. We are very saddened because nearly 1.5 million African friends of ours have so far contracted this disease. I extend my condolences on behalf of myself and my nation for our African brothers and sisters who passed away due to the pandemic.'

'WE RAN TO THE HELP OF OUR FRIENDS AND BROTHERS AT THE PEAK OF THE PANDEMIC'

'While tending to the needs of our own citizens, we also ran to the help of our friends and brothers at the peak of the pandemic,' the President stated. Further stressing that Turkey reached out to 154 countries and eight international organizations in response to their call for help across the world without making any distinction on the basis of religion, language and race, President Erdoğan added that 46 of the countries provided with medical supplies and equipment were from Africa.

'WE HAVE ALWAYS ENDEAVORED TO ENHANCE OUR COOPERATION AS EQUAL PARTNERS ON A WIN-WIN BASIS'

Drawing attention to Turkey's Africa Opening initiated back in 2003, President Erdoğan said: 'Turkey and Africa used to seem far away from one another unfortunately despite their shared history dating back more than a thousand years. There used to be many artificial barriers placed between our two countries, with prejudices eclipsing the truth. We got started by first tearing down these prejudices. We have built bridges from heart to heart between our nation and the peoples of Africa. We have carried out works in order to let our African brothers know our country better and notice Turkey's potential. More importantly, we have never seen the countries of the continent as sheer markets for Turkish products and have always endeavored to enhance our cooperation as equal partners on a win-win basis in every area.'

'HAVING ANCIENT TIES WITH THE CONTINENT, TURKEY SHARES A COMMON DESTINY WITH THE AFRICANS'

Stating that Turkey has increased the number of its embassies in Africa from 12 to 42, President Erdoğan said Turkey has also extended its presence in the continent through the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, Yunus Emre Institute, the Turkish Maarif Foundation, Anadolu Agency and Turkish Airlines, and that two Turkey-Africa Partnership Summits have been held so far, one of which was in Istanbul in 2008 and the other in Malabo in 2014.

Pointing to economic and trade cooperation agreements signed with African countries, President Erdoğan noted that the $5.4-billion trade volume between Turkey and Africa in 2003 increased to $26.2 billion in 2019, and added: 'Having ancient ties with the continent tracing back a thousand years, Turkey shares a common destiny with the Africans. Sincerity, brotherhood and solidarity lie at the essence of our relations with Africa. We are never in pursuit of short-term interests. We want to win, succeed and move forward together. We do not approve the desire for maintaining old colonial habits through new methods. As a country that has no stain of colonialism in its history, we reject the arrogant and imperious perspective towards the continent.'

'NAGORNO-KARABAKH IS AN AZERBAIJANI LAND WHICH FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS HAS BEEN UNDER ARMENIA'S OCCUPATION'

Also touching upon Armenia's attacks on Azerbaijan, President Erdoğan stressed: 'Nagorno-Karabakh is an Azerbaijani land which for nearly 30 years has been under Armenia's occupation. Despite the UN's and OSCE's clear resolutions and calls, Armenia has not withdrawn from these lands. The Minsk Group has yet to display a will to settle the issue so far, either. The key to resolution in this issue, which has reached deadlock for 30 years due to the uncompromising and spoilt attitudes of Armenia, is to put an end to the occupation. The proposals that legitimize the occupation have no chance of being implemented on the ground. And we see that Azerbaijan is very determined to liberate its lands. As Turkey we wholeheartedly support the rightful struggle Azerbaijan is putting up to take back its lands. We call on all countries that are on the side of justice and equity to stand by Azerbaijan. Our African friends have always reacted in the strongest terms against occupation, particularly in the Palestinian issue. I believe that you will be on Azerbaijan's side in saving Nagorno-Karabakh from occupation, as well.'