Distinguished Heads of State,
Distinguished Heads of Government,
Esteemed Ministers and Heads of Delegation,
I would like to greet you with affection and respect, on behalf of my delegation and the citizens of the Republic of Turkey.
I am very pleased to inaugurate the Second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in this beautiful city of friendly Equatorial Guinea.
Allow me to thank H.E. Nguema Obiang, President of Equatorial Guinea, for the warm hospitality they have accorded to us as host State. I would also like to thank Lady Obiang. Likewise, I express my gratitude to H.E. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, Chairperson of the African Union and President of Mauritania, and H.E. Dr. Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, who have devoted considerable efforts for this meaningful Summit. I would also like to thank each and every one of the heads of state and government, ministers and heads of delegation of all friendly countries, participating and contributing to the Summit.
In the First Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul in August 2008, I had pointed out that we consider Africa as one of the significant centers of attraction of the future. We are very contended today to see that the developments of the past six years have justified this conviction. Indeed, Africa has become once again the center of attraction thanks to its remarkable progress in social, economic and political areas. Allow me especially emphasize that we, as Turkey, are really happy for the profound transformation that the African Continent has been going through.
I should sincerely state a certain fact: Africa has always been for Turkey a land where our friends and brothers dwell. Enjoying thousands of years of history and at least two thousand years of state tradition and as a country which has provided unique contributions to common civilization of humanity, Turkey has always treated the African Continent with veneration.
Here, I would like to underline one particular point: Turkey founded two great states in the last millennium: the Grand Seljuk Empire and the Ottoman Empire. The Seljuk Empire ruled over a vast geographical area of Asia while the Ottoman Empire ruled on three continents, including Asia, Europe and Africa. These two major states, both our ancestors and predecessors, never considered the countries in their regions or in Africa with racist, slavery or colonialist view. To the contrary, we have always treated African people as our heartfelt friends and comrades. Although our languages, our values, our ethnicities and our appearances may differ, we have felt ourselves on board the same ship as Africa. We have always admired the ancient civilization of the African Continent. We have never belonged to those circles who have watched the tragedies in Africa from the angle of their political or strategic interests. Instead, we have always approached Africa in humanitarian and conscientious terms. Likewise, we have seen the happiness and successes of Africa as if they were our own happiness and successes and we have taken pride in them. Founded in 1923, the Republic of Turkey, just like the Seljuk and the Ottoman empires, has seen Africa from this point of view. The ability of the African countries to be independent, free, peaceful and secure and to exercise their right to determine their own fates have been at the center of Turkey's foreign policy.
We attached great importance to relations with Africa when I served as Prime Minister between 2002 and 2014. We exerted efforts to intensify our relations with the Continent. When we declared 2005 as Year of Africa in Turkey, we defined this policy as the policy of opening up to Africa. In 2009, there were 12 embassies of Turkey on the continent of Africa, while there were 10 African embassies in Ankara. As of today, we are represented by 39 embassies and 4 consulates general in Africa. Similarly, the number of diplomatic missions of African countries in Ankara increased to 32. We have achieved great progress together in various areas from development partnership to political dialogue mechanisms, from educational and cultural activities to economic cooperation, from trade volume to investments, from construction services to transport infrastructure. Thus, we have mutually completed the opening up process. Consequently we see it now necessary to move to a new and more advanced stage based on equal partnership.
Now, it is time to advance our partnership on this solid basis. With this understanding, I believe that the declaration and the implementation plan that we will adopt at this Summit today will constitute a milestone of this partnership and give orientation to our goals in the upcoming period. I would like to state that these important documents include areas of cooperation to which the African Union and its members give priority. At this point, I would like to point out that we are ready to stand by and execute a more efficient and a deeper cooperation especially in priority areas of African Union and its member countries such as agriculture, energy, health, education, small and medium-sized enterprises, employment, promotion of investment, energy and transport. As highlighted in the theme of the Summit, we will walk together and resolutely, towards a new partnership model on the path to development and integration.
My Esteemed Friends,
Turkey is following a versatile and a multi-dimensional policy in Africa. Our trade volume with sub-Saharan African countries has achieved a 10-fold increase in the last decade. Our total investments have reached six billion dollars in Africa. Turkish Airlines is conducting scheduled flights to forty different cities on the African continent today. Through the contribution of these flights and ever-expanding flight network, the number of passengers traveling between Africa and Turkey for tourism, culture, business or trade purposes reached two hundred thousand annually. I would like to note that that this number is increasing with every passing year.
In 1991-2013 period, we allocated a total of 3254 scholarships to African countries in the undergraduate, graduate and doctorate levels. Furthermore, we have allocated more than a thousand new scholarships for our young African brothers and sisters at Turkish universities in the last two years. We will further increase this number. For we are confident that these young people will put high quality education and high skills they will acquire in Turkey to the service of their country and their communities on their return.
We observe that the health sector has especially become a significant area of cooperation with African countries. We are immensely pleased with this development as well. We are preparing to open a fully equipped 200-bed-hospital in Somalia after the opening of a 150-bed-hospital in Sudan. We will continue to implement similar projects which are operated jointly with the Turkish and local medical personnel in a self-sufficient manner, and which provide efficient health services as shown as model implementations. Recently, as we are going through a difficult period due to outbreak of Ebola epidemic, we appreciate once again importance of cooperation in the field of health. On this occasion, I would like to announce that Turkey has put aside an additional source of 5 million dollars for our African friends to combat Ebola outbreak in addition to our other contributions in this field so far. I will give more details on this subject during the round table meeting.
Moreover, we offer as a concrete cooperation proposal to train within 5 years a thousand experts in Turkey to enhance their professional qualifications in three or six month-periods. This effectively means training 200 experts each year. As another cooperation proposal, we offer to implement within five years one agriculture and stockbreeding project in each one of 10 countries to provide a model. Thus, we can include two countries annually in this programme. I would like to especially remind that we have extensive experience in this field so far.
My Distinguished Friends,
Africa is now aware of its future as a continent whose political and an economic weight is gradually increasing in the global arena. It is obvious that Africa, the second largest continent in the world, shall play a more active role in the international system with its rich natural resources and human capacity in the next years. Moreover, there have been significant achievements in economic and social development, prevention of conflicts, democracy, human rights and peaceful resolution of the problems in Africa. We attach importance to preserving these achievements and carrying them further.
I believe the African Union and other regional organizations will continue to play a leading role in achieving political and economic integration in parallel with jointly determined objectives.
We also appreciate and welcome the increasing political significance of the African Union in addition to its forceful representation, and the active role it plays in solving the problems arising in the member countries.
I would also like to underline that we will continue our financial contribution to the budget of the African Union in the coming years, as we have done so in the last five years.
Moreover, I would like to reiterate that we are prepared for a strong and a result oriented cooperation based on projects with African countries in their efforts to fight against poverty, illiteracy and epidemics as well as terrorism, organized crimes and drugs.
I would like to draw your attention to a particular matter. I notice that several vicious structures are trying to come between Turkey and some African countries under the guise of non-governmental organizations or education volunteers. We follow them carefully. We hope that our friendly heads of states and governments will be more sensitive to such organizations, which venture into developing secretive structures in each country they operate and whose spying activities are becoming increasingly more apparent. I would like to emphasize here that we are ready to share any kind of information and conduct a joint struggle against organization or organizations constituting a serious threat in each country, including Turkey, where they operate under the mask of education or humanitarian assistance.
I strongly believe that this second Summit will constitute a new turning point between Turkey and Africa.
As you know, Istanbul is ready for the third summit in 2019. We are looking forward to hosting you there.
I wish a successful Summit to all of us and offer my best wishes and hopes for the future of Turkey-Africa partnership.
I would like to thank especially all those who have contributed to and participated in the Summit and greet you wholeheartedly on behalf of my country, my people and myself.