Speaking in an interview with journalists recently at his Brufut office, Ambassador Soner said: “The mutual opening of the embassies in Banjul (2011) and Ankara (2010) has not only galvanised the bilateral cooperation but also become a turning point in dealings between Turkey and The Gambia. From that stage on, a solid revitalisation in our relations has been witnessed. I am very happy, as Turkey’s second ambassador to The Gambia that my tenure of duty coincides with this period of revitalisation. I am pleased to observe that since I assumed duties in Banjul – a short duration of about seven to eight months now – relations between the two countries have gained momentum.”
“Turkey has recognised The Gambia since the latter gained her independence in 1965. Both countries enjoyed and continue to enjoy friendly and brotherly relations. However, in this 50-year period apart from the military training from the early 1990s to 2005 and the brotherly and friendly relations, one can say nothing concrete materialised due to different reasons. The mutual opening of the embassies has not only galvanised the bilateral cooperation but also become a turning point in dealings between Turkey and The Gambia. The first large scale investment contract was signed between Nawec and Turkish private sector company for the investment in the field of energy sector worth US$15 million. We are hoping this will not be the first and last, there will be more Turkish companies coming soon to invest in the country. There are also plans to build a standard fish cold storage facility in Tanji, a mango and cashew processing facilities for food safety purposes and to improve and extend rice cultivation in The Gambia.”
He added: “I would like to further strengthen and diversify the already existing brotherly relations between Turkey and The Gambia. My intention is to maintain the relations in a wide range of fields of cooperation. In other words, we would not only focus on political, economic and trade activities, but rather also on areas such as cultural, health, education, environmental protection and women’s empowerment among others. On the economic field, in order to make The Gambia’s development very rapid and easy, any investment in areas like energy, transport, commerce, tourism should be done in consideration that the agricultural production sector is of paramount importance.
“I would like to draw reference to the agriculture cooperation agreement which Turkey signed with Sudan. These two countries have signed a cooperation deal that will see Turkey’s first investment abroad in agriculture. According to this deal agreed in April 2014, the countries will set up a joint-venture company (80% Turkish and 20% Sudanese) to work land (780,000 hectares) in Sudan and exchange experience. The products will be processed in installations to be established and then exported to other countries. It is worthwhile to mention that a similar cooperation can be realised in the Gambia if a conducive environment and the necessary legal framework is provided. This can include agricultural production, transfer of technological expertise, mechanisation capacity and food safety, also supporting the poorest of the poor of the society and to improve the status of women. We have everything in common to share with our Gambian counterparts in sectors of development. On the day I will be leaving Banjul, whether sooner or later, the only thing I would like to hear is even the ordinary Gambian on the streets talking about how the relations between Turkey and The Gambia have positively impacted his or her living standard.”
By Sainey Marenah]]>