In an exclusive interview with The Standard at his offices yesterday, Ambassador Erin Soner said: “Turkey has close ties with the brotherly and friendly Gambia. Despite the geographical distance The Gambia has always been a staunch supporter of Turkey at all international platforms. Moreover, The Gambia’s stability and its status as an important centre in Africa and as a re-export gate to the continent adds importance to Turkey relations with The Gambia. Therefore, The Gambia will continue to be a strategic friend of Turkey and Turkey is willing to further strengthen the bilateral relations and cooperation in all areas. The Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, paid a state visit to Turkey in February 2014, which was his first to Turkey after 17 years. Two ships of the Turkish Naval Forces Barbaros Maritime Task Force conducted a historic port visit to Banjul in April 2014. The first Turkey-Gambia Joint Economic Commission Meeting was held in Banjul in May 2014. On this occasion the Turkish health minister, Mehmet Muezzinoglu, co-chair of the Joint Economic Commission visited Banjul. This was the first visit from Turkey to The Gambia at ministerial level.
“The vice-president Isatou Njie-Saidy visited Turkey with a high level delegation including the new foreign minister Bala Garba Jahumpa. Africa is now in an impressive surge of growth, urbanisation and modernisation. The natural and human resources are abundant and diverse. When we examine some basic indicators we see a re-emerging Africa with many promising development stories. The continent has recorded an annual growth rate of 5 % over the last decade and is expected to continue this trend over the coming years. Six out of ten fastest growing economies in the world are now in Africa. Seventy percent of the continent’s people live in countries that posted average growth rates in excess of 4 percent over the past decade. There is a middle class of 313 million people, 34 percent of the population. Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200 percent since 2000”.
“Therefore, relations with Africa constitute one of the prime orientations of Turkish Foreign policy. Being an Afro-Eurasian state, Turkey’s policy of opening up to Africa is not just the reflection of a transient political and economic expectation. On the contrary, it is the product of a process with strong historical and cultural aspects. It is, foremost, the expression and natural result of the firm feelings of friendship and partnership between Turkish and African peoples.”
Sainey Marenah contributed to this story.]]>