On 29 October 2020, we celebrate the 97th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey.
Throughout this 97 year-long journey, Turkey, situated at the crossroads of Eurasia, a region facing multiple challenges, has become a source of peace, stability and prosperity in her neighborhood and beyond. A transit country and a hub for energy lines, Turkey has transformed herself into the 13th largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity.
Thanks to her dynamic production capacity, Turkey is strongly positioned in the global production and logistics networks. Turkey’s performance of adaptation since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic proves the economy’s resilience to the current challenges.
In fact, according to the latest OECD Report, Turkey will be among the least affected three countries from the global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lead indicators show that the worst is now behind us, and the economic recovery has begun accelerating. We expect to conclude 2020 with growth. We are focused on converting the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity.
At the same time, Turkey’s export reached a record high of 180.7 billion USD in 2019, while the cumulative amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2003-2019 was 210 billion USD. The automotive, petrochemical and electronics industries have risen in importance and surpassed the traditional textiles and clothing sectors within Turkey’s export mix as a result of her arduous and tireless efforts to enlarge the national production base in all sectors.
Being NATO’s southern flank and due to the conflicts in her vicinity, coupled with the terrorist threat, national defense has always been a priority for Turkey. The need for producing high-quality weapons systems for her own military has gradually turned Turkey into an exporter of advanced weapons systems to other countries.
Furthermore, with 10.319 projects undertaken world-wide, Turkey ranks second in the number of constructing companies building the largest volume of projects across the world.
Blessed by the natural beauties and cultural richness of our homeland, we became the sixth most visited country in 2019 by hosting 45 million tourists. Turkey is home to 18 UNESCO Cultural and Natural Heritage sites.
Recent discovery of natural gas in the Black Sea coast will usher the country into a new era, one with less dependency on external sources.
Owing to her growing means and capabilities, Turkey pursues a foreign policy guided by her founding principle “Peace at Home, Peace in the World” with an “Enterprising and Humanitarian” approach to achieve security, stability and prosperity in her neighborhood and beyond.
In pursuit of an enterprising and humanitarian diplomacy, as in the words of our President H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “reflects the enterprising spirit and humanitarian values of our nation”, Turkey puts considerable effort to reducing global vulnerabilities and undertakes leading roles in humanitarian assistance and development aid. She hosts the highest number of refugees in the world and ranks at the top of humanitarian assistance donor list. Furthermore, Turkey is the most generous country as per assistance to national income ratio.
Turkey firmly believes that resolution of global challenges depends on collective efforts forged by cooperation and effective multilateralism. This reality guides Turkey’s active diplomacy within multilateral fora. Indeed, H.E. Volkan Bozkır’s assumption of the Presidency of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and Ambassador Altay Cengizer’s designation as the President of the 40th General Conference of UNESCO are a testament to Turkey’s active role within multilateral organizations. Turkey strongly advocates reforming the UN and the UN Security Council to be more efficient, more representative and more accountable.
The coronavirus outbreak is unprecedented. In many ways, it is an era-defining challenge. What started as a public health issue in one part of the world has quickly turned into a global crisis with severe economic, political and security implications. Turkey has demonstrated stellar performance in addressing this pandemic thanks to the preparedness and effective mobilisation of the healthcare system and a comprehensive mobilization approach to leaving no one behind.
In line with this vision, since the onset of the outbreak, Turkey has extended a helping hand to numerous nations and international/regional organizations. So far, Turkey has provided medical supplies to more than 150 countries and has earned the title of the third biggest supplier of medical aid worldwide. Turkey is doing this with the belief that “a friend in need is a friend indeed”.
Africa: One of the Main Orientations of Turkish Foreign Policy
Relations with Africa on both bilateral and multilateral basis constitute one of the main orientations of Turkish foreign policy.
Turkey is present in the continent with 42 Embassies and 22 coordination offices of Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency. Turkish Airlines, our flag-carrier flying to 58 destinations in 39 countries in the continent, connects Africa to the rest of the world.
Our policy towards Africa is based on common interest and common good, creating value through business and pursuing a “win-win” approach.
In order to achieve our focus on harnessing the human capital, which is a cross-cutting goal of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, we have mobilized Turkish higher education scholarships (provided to more than 10,000 African students), vocational and technical training opportunities as well as development and humanitarian assistance schemes.
Turkey’s trade volume with the African continent reached 26.2 billion USD in 2019 from 5.4 billion USD in 2003. The total value of projects undertaken by Turkish companies across Africa has reached approximately 70 billion USD, while market value of Turkish investments across the continent has exceeded 6 billion USD. Moreover, Turkish companies have contributed to generating local employment and production in the countries that they operate. More than 100,000 Africans have gained employment opportunities thanks to Turkish investments.
As a strategic partner to the African Union since 2008, we have organized two Africa Partnership Summits in 2008 and 2014 in Istanbul and Malabo, respectively. Now, we are focusing on hosting the Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit to be held under the auspices of President of the Republic of Turkey H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey-Africa Economy and Business Forum, organized virtually by the Turkish Ministry of Trade, African Union and Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey with the attendance of President Erdoğan on 8-9 October 2020, enabled the participants to discuss post-pandemic economic relations between Turkey and Africa. The Third Turkey-Africa Economy and Business Forum is planned to take place in spring 2021 in Istanbul.
Turkey considers Ghana an important partner in the sub-region
In this sub-region, we highly value the friendship of Ghana and consider it an important partner. We always commend the special role of Ghana in the history of the continent. We congratulate the assumption of Chair of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government by H.E. Mr. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana at this challenging period. We strongly believe that his vision will support the peaceful resolution of disputes in the member countries and effectively promote the integration agenda of the organization.
In this perspective, Ghana has been actively supporting economic integration efforts of the continent. We reiterate our congratulations for hosting and recent commissioning of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area in Accra.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the re-opening of the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Accra.
During the last decade, bilateral relations between Turkey and Ghana have been strengthened and the spectrum of our cooperation has been expanded. President of Turkey H.E. Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Ghana in 2016 played a pivotal role in this regard.
In January 2020, we hosted Hon. Mrs. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana in Turkey. This was the first-ever official visit from Ghana to Turkey at this level. It enabled both sides to discuss the entirety of the prospects for bilateral cooperation. During this visit, the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Information Technologies and Diplomatic Archives was signed.
Accompanied by a high-level economic delegation, the economic segment of the visit hosted by the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) enabled to discuss mutual economic/trade/ investment opportunities at length.
More recently, the first round of Turkey-Ghana political consultations were held virtually last month, presenting yet another opportunity to expand upon our growing bilateral relations. We are committed to keeping all established mechanisms and dialogue channels open in order to widen the scope of our cooperation.
We are determined to continue to be a development partner for Ghana.
Turkish businesses have proved their competences in contributing to Ghana’s development efforts in several sectors such as energy, construction, healthcare, logistics and water treatment. Similarly, agriculture, processed food, transport, affordable housing, tourism, and aviation stand as promising areas of cooperation.
Last year, Ghana ranked as the third biggest trade partner of Turkey in the sub-Saharan Africa. Bilateral trade volume during the first nine months of this year has already surpassed that of the highest year ever. We are determined to elevate our bilateral trade volume to 1 billion USD as set by President Erdoğan.
We also encourage and support Turkish businesses to invest in Ghana consistent with the development priorities of the country, and at the same time, assist Ghana’s efforts to increase its competitiveness within the African Free Trade Area.
Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK) and the Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI) aims to increase partnerships. The virtual meeting between DEİK and AGI on 22 July 2020 enabled the parties to discuss opportunities in food, textiles and construction sectors.
Empowering human capital is an important agenda of our cooperation with Ghana. So far, 454 students from Ghana have benefited from higher education scholarships provided by Turkey. We are also keen to enhance our cooperation on technical and vocational training, not to mention one that empowers women.
Turkish Maarif Foundation Nursery and Kindergarten started to operate in September 2019. The foundation, which was established in June 2016, is the sole entity authorized to provide educational services abroad apart from the Ministry of National Education. Today, it has turned into a dynamic educational institution with its 344 schools across the world. The Foundation currently operates 130 schools across the African continent, 64 of which are in 8 ECOWAS countries, and is determined to expand its operations in Ghana.
Last but foremost, we are ready to build on the existing cooperation mechanisms and keep collaborating to find new ways to enhance our bilateral relations with the friendly country of Ghana.
As we celebrate this distinguished day, we renew our resolution to ensuring the achievement of sustainable development and peace agenda at the global scale. Our Enterprising and Humanitarian Foreign Policy will continue to contribute to the common goals of humanity.
The author is the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey.