Africa Visit of the President Erdoğan

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The President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has visited Africa many times during his premiership, will be in Ethiopia and Djibouti from the countries of the Horn of Africa in January 21-24, 2015. The trip of Erdoğan who visited Ethiopia before in 2005 had a historical meaning because of the first visit to Sub-Saharan Africa in the level of Premiership from Turkey.

While both countries in the visit program are in the The Least Developed Countries List of EU, Ethiopia, who has been the fifth fastest growing economy in the world with a rate of 8,4% in the period of 2001-2010, has grown up in the rate of 9,8% in the period of 2011-2013 by keeping on its stability.

In the same time, Ethiopia, who has a population over 95 millions, is in the position of a country which Turkish companies have invested the most, in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The Awash-Weldia railway project of Yapı Merkezi has the biggest tenders that a Turkish company has won in Africa till today. On the other side, when there was only one Turkish firm investing in Ethiopia in 2003; today, the amount of Turkish firms who has a business relation with Ethiopia is over 340. In 2013, the trade volume between two countries doesn’t reflect the real potential as being 421,6 million dollars.

Djibouti, who is neighbor of landlocked Ethiopia, is in the way of becoming an important trade center in the region thanks to its investments of the transportation field and its modern ports. The World Bank has predicted that Djibouti, who is one of the local economic formations such as COMESA, IGAD and CEN-SAD and has a population approximately around 1 million people, will grow up in the rate of 6,5% for this year and next year. In 2013, the trade volume between Turkey and Djibouti was only 67,4 million dollars.

Since the last decade, it is the fact that our Africa policies, which can be accepted as successful, has important deficiencies. E.g. the failure to sign agreements about preventing free trade and double taxation by the aim of getting trade easier after the 1st Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit in 2008; being distant to the defined targets despite of the increase in the trade volume between 2008-2013; being affected of African overtime negatively by the Syria issue in foreign policy; tensed relations with Egypt and Libya; the fact that Turkey, who was chosen to the temporary membership of EU Security Council for the period of 2009-2010 by getting 50 votes from 53 African countries in 2008, couldn’t get support from Africa in the previous election in which Turkey was a candidate for the period of 2015-2016; and the stay of 2nd Partnership Summit, which was held in Equatorial Guinea in the last October, in the shade of the first summit in 2008, because of its participation profile are concrete indications of our failing Africa policy in recent years. In the same period, besides the effects of the other rising partners such as China, India and Brazil; have been increased in the appreciable levels, a successful revision about relations with Africa of traditional partners such as the USA and Japan in the last two years has brought the raising difference among them.

In this regard, visit program that aims to strengthen present relations with Ethiopia and Djiibouti according to Turkey who should make a new image work in Africa; will allow binary cooperations to deal on a large scale. Also on a larger scale, we should comment the planned visits to African countries at the level of President, Prime Minister and Ministers in 2015 according to balance of recently decreasing effect of Turkey who emphasizes the issue of continuity in foreign policy as an opportunity. But, comments of Turkish media about the visit program in the frame of a battle only with the parallel structure rather than causing such occasions; are a sign of the fact that we don’t have any healthy vision about Africa, yet. Even if discourse of the battle with the parallel structure is more newsworthy subject in the national public opinion; the fact that Turkey transports its discussions and problems in its domestic politics to Africa won’t provide a concrete contribution to our relations; and the evaluation of our recently decreasing energy in Africa will be more rational preference.

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