Turkey has human, business-oriented approach to Africa: Senior diplomat

Nur Sagman is happy to see importance of Africa ‘finally' being understood, but adds Turkey has ‘always been aware of it’

Rabia İclal Turan   | 23.10.2021
Turkey has human, business-oriented approach to Africa: Senior diplomat


Turkey’s perspective on relations with the countries of Africa is not only business-oriented but also human-oriented, according to a senior Turkish diplomat.

“We want to develop together. We want to support them and be on their side,” Nur Sagman, the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s top official for Africa, told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the Third Turkey-Africa Economic and Business Forum, a two-day event that wrapped up on Friday in Istanbul.

In her nearly three decades with the ministry, Sagman has served in many countries, including France, Morocco, and Ukraine. Most recently, in 2015 to 2018, she served as ambassador to the West African nation of Guinea.

Asked about rising interest in Africa in general, she said she is happy that the continent’s importance is “finally being understood,” but stressed that Turkey has “always been aware of it.”

Africa is not only the continent of the future but the continent of today, she said. “It has all kinds of potential. In terms of both human and natural resources. It is an extremely rich continent in many ways," she explained.

Communication and cooperation between Turkey and Africa are “extremely genuine,” she said. “Everyone will one day realize that without Africa, there cannot be a prosperous world. That's why we all need to move forward, hand in hand with Africa.”

Turkish-African ties

Sagman was part of a delegation accompanying Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week on a four-day trip to Angola, Togo, and Nigeria.

During his “fruitful” visit, said Sagman, bilateral agreements were signed on the economy, military, and education.

The presidents of Burkina Faso and Liberia also traveled to Togo to see Erdogan, said Sagman, adding that a joint declaration was issued after the mini-summit.

First lady Emine Erdogan also attended the opening ceremony of a new school in Togo run by Turkey’s Maarif Foundation, she said.

In recent years Turkey has stressed the importance of ties with African countries, with Erdogan visiting 30 of the continent’s 54 countries, along with active Turkish diplomatic missions, institutions, and organizations on the continent, including the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), Turkish Airlines, Yunus Emre Institute, and the Maarif Foundation.

Turkey has 43 embassies in Africa, up sharply from just 12 in 2002, according to ministry figures.

Sagman praised the high turnout at this week’s Turkey-Africa Business Forum, saying it was attended by more than 40 ministers from both countries.

She stressed that similar events and visits from Africa are on the way, including the Turkish-African Cooperation Summit on Dec. 17-18 in Istanbul, meant to cover the next five years.

“It will be an extremely important event,” she said, “We hope to welcome many heads of state.”

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