A Post-2014 Vision for Turkey-Africa Relations

By Ozkan, Mehmet | Insight Turkey, Autumn 2014 | Go to article overview

A Post-2014 Vision for Turkey-Africa Relations


Ozkan, Mehmet, Insight Turkey


The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government's Africa policy represents hands down the most successful aspect of Turkish foreign policy over the past decade. The Africa initiative, whose origins date back to 1998 and was implemented as of 2002, promises to become a lasting element of the nation's foreign policy for its content and potential repercussions. In recent years, the Turkish government's interest toward the African continent expanded into the domain of humanitarian assistance and economic relations. The nation's active involvement in Somalia, in particular, received great attention from across the continent and contributed to the consolidation of Turkey's position in Africa. Thus far, closer economic cooperation, coupled with large amounts of development aid and humanitarian assistance, has formed the basis of this new approach. Various government agencies and non-governmental organizations have been actively contributing to the nation's relations with the African continent. Meanwhile, the Turkish authorities' take on Somalia and other nations indicates that Ankara will represent not only an economic power but a political ally. Still, the time has come to analyze Turkey's African policy between 2002 and 2014, and engage the question of future steps.

The Past Decade's Achievements

The success that Turkey has found in the African continent represents an impressive achievement. At a time when Middle Eastern issues represent the top priority for the international community, the country has effectively nurtured its political, economic and socio-cultural ties with Africa and gradually established itself as a long-term stakeholder.

Over the past five years, Turkey has significantly expanded its diplomatic network in the continent by launching twenty-seven new embassies and increasing the total number of its embassies to thirty-nine along with four consulates. The number of African diplomatic missions in Ankara, in turn, rose from sixteen to thirty-two during the same period. High-level official visits continue to take place in an increasingly frequent manner.

Since 2004, the annual trade volume between Turkey and the African continent rose from $5.5 billion to $20 billion. By the end of 2015, the Turkish government aims to further increase the trade volume to $50 billion. At this point, the total amount of Turkish investments in Africa has broken the six-billion-dollar mark while several dozen international agreements have been signed in order to promote commercial and economic cooperation and to establish bilateral business councils. Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines continues to operate direct flights to 46 destinations in 28 African countries.

Turkish authorities, furthermore, remain aware of the importance of humanitarian assistance in its relations with the African continent. (1) In line with this policy, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (T?KA) has established representation offices in 11 countries to provide grants to the most disadvantaged nations. Meanwhile, the Presidency of Turks Abroad and Related Communities has covered, and continues to cover, the costs of education in Turkish universities for hundreds of African students. Such developments contribute to the African continent's perception as an important component of Turkish foreign policy among the nation's executives.

The Second Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, which took place on 19-20 November 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, established that Turkey's Africa policy has entered a new era. The event not only showed that Turkish-African relations entered a natural process but also addressed the doubts of both sides regarding the seriousness and future of the ties. As such, it was an important development that the parties signed a joint action plan for 2014-2019 and decided to elevate the level of the relations to strategic partnership.

The African continent represents a geographic area where Turkey's new foreign policy was best implemented and proved to be effective With the notable exceptions of the 2013 attack on the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia and the fatal shooting of a Turkish Airlines official, it would not be wrong to suggest that the Justice and Development Party government's foreign policy became extremely successful in Africa. …

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