A bright future for Turkey-South Africa cooperation

Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

Published Jan 10, 2023

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by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu

I am happy to be back in South Africa. This is the first stop of my regional visit.

African nations, despite the historical injustices and unacceptable external interferences, have shown a monumental resilience. They have grown outstanding leaders among whom Nelson Mandela has a unique place.

Africa, with its young and dynamic population, vast opportunities, rich and deep-rooted culture and history, has a great potential to shape the new century.

For us in Türkiye, Africa means hope and we are partners with Africa in this crucial journey.

Türkiye’s approach to Africa is built on an inclusive and equal partnership on the basis of mutual respect and win-win strategy.

Our 44 Embassies in the continent bear testimony to our growing partnership. President Erdoğan ranks first in terms of the number of visits to Africa among global leaders. In the last 20 years, Türkiye has become a hub for Africans as we host an increasing number of African diplomatic representations.

South Africa stands out as a key partner for Türkiye at bilateral, regional, continental and global levels. Despite our geographical distance, we share historic ties. Our encounters date back to 19th century, most memorably, the appointment of Ebu Bekir Efendi as a religious scholar to assist the Cape Muslim community in South Africa.

Türkiye opened an Embassy in Pretoria after the fall of Apartheid in 1994 and a Consulate-General in Cape Town in 2020. On the occasion of my visit, we are officially inaugurating our Consulate- General in Cape Town.

The pace of growth of bilateral relations between Türkiye and South Africa proves how effective we work together. South Africa is our largest trade partner in Sub-Saharan Africa. While the trade volume between our countries stood at only US$457 million in 2003, it reached a record high US$3 billion by the end of 2022. It represents a 50% increase from last year, and a relatively well-balanced account. It is an encouraging trend and the future is much promising.

Türkiye is also a reliable and principled development partner for South Africa. Turkish Coordination and Development Agency (TIKA) has an office in Pretoria, one of its 22 offices in Africa overall. TIKA has been instrumental in development cooperation projects all over the country, especially in reaching rural communities in all nine provinces. It has completed 50 projects since 2015. Around 20 of those projects were carried out in 2022 alone.

Yunus Emre Institute in Johannesburg, established in 2017, brings the peoples of two countries together through language courses, conferences and exhibitions. Turkish Maarif Foundation also has an Office in Johannesburg since 2018 and the first Maarif School opened its doors in Johannesburg last year. I am happy to announce that Maarif will open its second school in Cape Town this year. The launching of “Maarif Turkish Studies Center” at the Pretoria University will serve to deepen our common knowledge and motivate our academic people to take on studies in our respective countries.

Turkish Airlines (THY) with its footprint in 41 countries and 62 destinations in Africa, has been instrumental in boosting the tourist numbers between our countries which attained a record high in 2022 totalling 90 000 visitors as South African and Turkish people discover the beauties and opportunities in each other’s country.

Our shared vision in global issues plays an important role in advancement of Türkiye-South Africa relations. Türkiye shares the same expectations with South Africa towards a just and efficient global order based on effective multilateralism including a structural reform of the UN system to make sure that Africa’s voice is heard by the international community.

Being members of G20, Türkiye and South Africa have a historical responsibility, derived from the lessons learnt through their historical struggles, to defend and spread the spirit of peace, respect and cooperation across their regions and globally.

South Africa has been a pioneer for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and made peace diplomacy in Africa. Likewise Türkiye, with its enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy, has become a brand in mediation and facilitation. Türkiye’s efforts in the war in Ukraine is the most recent example. By securing the “Istanbul Grain Deal”, we ensured the uninterrupted flow of grain and fertilizer, especially to Africa.

The future of cooperation between Türkiye and South Africa is bright. Owing to our historical and cultural ties as well as shared values and global vision, we will continue to be in unity and solidarity with South Africa to generate peace, stability and prosperity in our regions and beyond.

* Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister.

** The views expressed are not necessarily the views of IOL or Independent Media.

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