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Economy of Turkey’s Engagement with Africa

A New Actor or Passer-By? The Political
Economy of Turkey’s Engagement
with Africa
Mehmet Ozkan
Despite its Ottoman past in the continent, Turkey did not show a serious interest inAfrican
affairs until recently.However, since 1998 there has been a revival in Turkey’s involvement
in developing relations with Africa. This was a passive attempt initially, but after 2005, it
became an offensive one that culminated in the first Turkey–Africa Summit in 2008 and
booming economic relations. Despite much rhetoric on humanitarian issues, Turkey’s
opening to Africa is driven by two factors: Turkey’s need to diversify its economic relations
in a new global political economy and its re-orientation in global politics. In the current
situation, Turkey–Africa relations are still fragile and the future of the relations depends
much on Turkey’s domestic political developments and interest from the African side.
Turkish foreign policy today is far more proactive and multidimensional than
probably at any time in the history of the republic. Nothing captures this better than
Turkey’s recent involvement in Africa. In the Turkish political agenda, Africa did not
feature much until recently. Turkey announced 2005 as ‘the year of Africa’, and hosted
the first ever Turkey–Africa Cooperation Summit from 18 to 21 August 2008 in
Istanbul with the participation of representatives from 50 African countries. Again, in
July 2008, Turkey’s then Foreign Minister Ali Babacan declared that Africa has a
special importance to Turkey within the context of new foreign policy, thus it is
opening 15 new embassies in Africa in the next few years.1 Since then, a re-orientation
of Turkish foreign policy toward Africa has taken shape and become steadily more
visible publicly as well.
This paper seeks to portray Turkey’s new engagement with Africa in terms of
economic and political developments. Although Turks have a relatively long history of
involvement in Africa, the new engagement is an offensive one that bore fruit in a very
short time in terms of economic indicators. Indeed, Ankara’s first interest in
developing serious relations with Africa dates back to 1998; however, this has become
more evident only after the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma
Partisi, AKP) assumed power in 2002. The Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog˘an’s
ISSN 1944-8953 (print)/ISSN 1944-8961 (online)/12/010113-21 q 2012 Taylor & Francis
Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies
Vol. 14, No. 1, March 2012, pp. 113–133
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continued efforts to develop relations with neglected areas in Turkey’s foreign
relations. Until 10 years ago, Africa was known in Turkey by TV images of hunger,
poverty and conflicts. Today, Africa in Turkey is not regarded as a continent of hunger
and poverty, but of hope and a possible partner to cooperate and develop economic
and political relations.
To outline this dramatic change, this paper aims to develop three basic arguments.
Firstly, a general outline of historical relations between Turkey and Africa will be
outlined dating back to the latest period of the Ottoman State. These historical ties
will constitute the psychological and perceptual background of relations while
indicating the historically constructed and distinguished approach of Turkey to North
Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Although recent Turkish interest in Africa is equally
directed to both Africa, a perceptual and even strategic difference in approaching both
is still persistent.
Secondly, locating Turkey’s opening to Africa within the overall Turkish diplomacy
requires a short account of the new Turkish foreign policy and its theoretical
underpinnings. This is also important to understand why Turkey is interested in Africa
now and the viability and sustainability of the African dimension in Turkish diplomacy.
Turkey’s own new-found perception in international affairs that it could play a
constructive role in both regional and global affairs would be vital in understanding
current Turkey. Ideational and self-perceptual reasons sometimes may be more
important than available material reasons in an emerging foreign policy. In that sense,
it is argued that a newly developing multidimensional foreign policy is the driving force
behind Turkey’s outreach to Africa.
Finally, an effort is made to summarize the recent economic cooperation
established between Turkey and African countries as well as to present an overview of
Turkey’s trade and investment relations both with the continent as a whole and with
key countries. Once this picture is established, I analyse the nature and scope of
Turkey–Africa relations and investigate whether this is a short-term process driven by
the economic needs of Turkey and the changing international environment or these
relations may lead to any long-term cooperation.
This paper argues that historically having no colonial background coupled with an
intention to cooperate and collaborate, not to exploit, may pave the way for opening
a new era in Turkey–Africa relations. Furthermore, the changing geographical
perception of Africa in Turkey at societal and governmental level may accelerate this
process. However, the lack of knowledge and domestic political (in-)stability in Turkey
will define the sustainability of relations in the near future.
Historical Legacy: Asset or Burden?
In order for a better analysis of Turkey’s historical relations with Africa, a
geographical–conceptual approach is necessary. One can speak of two distinct
conceptions about Africa based on a geographical divide in Turkey: North Africa and
Sub-Saharan Africa. Both conceptions have been shaped in the Turkish psyche by
historical developments mainly from the Ottoman background. This articulated itself
in classical Turkish foreign policy toward the continent. Historically, Turkey has had
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relatively strong relations with North Africa as it was part of the Ottoman State dating
back to the 15th–16th century.With regard to Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey’s relatively
little historical relations are a recent development, mostly dating back to the 19th
North Africa is not a distant geographical area in the conception of Turkish society.
This is accounted for by two reasons. First, Muslim populations of North African
states and their close historical connection with the Ottoman past have created an
understanding that North Africa is part of the Turkish periphery. Developing political
and economic relations with North Africa has never been questioned but seen as an
essential part of diversifying Turkish foreign policy. Second,North Africa is considered
part of a broader Middle East—an area that Turkish society feels very close to.2
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical area has always been considered as a far away
land, full of problems, hunger, disease and civil wars. These were the basic elements
that defined the Turkish conception of Sub-Saharan Africa. Although Turkey had
comparatively important relations with the area through its Ottoman past, this
history did not receive any attention from academia or policymaking circles. Since
the official celebrations of 700 years of the establishment of the Ottoman State in
1999, researchers have paid more attention to the neglected areas of the Ottoman past
such as its relations with Africa. However, the persistent negative image of Sub-
Saharan Africa did not change until the recent work of both the AKP government and
civil society organizations.3 It is important to note here that when Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog˘an visited Ethiopia and South Africa in March 2005,
being the first prime minister visiting officially a state below the equator in the
republican era, many Turkish columnists, retired diplomats and the mainstream
media raised critical voices about wasting Turkey’s limited energy in vain.4 However,
such a conception of Sub-Saharan Africa seems to be changing with the works of
government and civil society organizations in the last few years.
Bearing these two Africa concepts in mind, one can divide Turkey’s relations with
Africa into three periods. The first period covers the Ottoman State’s relations with
Africa until the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, during which
Ottomans had considerable relations with Africa.5 The years from 1923 to 1998 can be
seen as the second period where Turkish–African relations were at the lowest level, if
not existing at all. After 1998, with the acceptance of the Africa Action Plan, there has
been a gradual revival in Turkey’s interest in Africa reaching a peak level after 2005.6
With regard to the first period, the Ottoman Empire had considerable relations
with North Africa—aided by the fact that African states such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia
and Algeria were totally or partially subject to Ottoman rule. The Ottomans also
played an important role in preventing Spanish incursions in North Africa as they
sent their emissaries when needed. In Sub-Saharan Africa, too, some African
countries were partially part of the Ottoman State, such as Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Djibouti, Somalia and even Niger and Chad. During the wave of colonialism, the
Ottoman State was active in Eastern Africa to balance the Portuguese penetration.
In northern Sub-Saharan Africa, the Ottomans were also part of the balance of power
system having friendship and alliance with the Kanem Burnu Empire prevailing in
today’s Northern Nigeria, Niger and Chad. The Kanem Burnu Empire even signed a
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defence pact in 1575 with the Ottoman Empire during the time of Sultan Murad III,
upon which the Sultan sent military equipment and trainers to Kanem Burnu.7
In 1894, after the first mosque was built in Lagos, the Ottoman State sent a special
emissary to Nigeria conferring the staff of office, the decoration of the Order of
Medjidie as well as the title of Bey, a higher civilian rank in the Ottoman Empire to
the leader of the Southern Nigeria Moslem Community, Mohammed Shitta Bey. The
Shitta Bey family is a large family and has presently several members playing an
important role in the social and political life in Nigeria.8
In Southern Africa, Ottomans had a diplomatic representation since 1861. The
appointment of the first honorary consul-general in Cape Town, P. E. de Roubaix, on
18 February 1861 was followed by a series of honorary consul-general appointments
in the following years until the first Turkish diplomat, Mehmet Remzi Bey, stationed
in South Africa on 21 April 1914, who passed away on 14 February 1916 and was
buried in Braamfontein, South Africa.9
Adding a religious dimension to the relations, the Ottoman State also sent imams
to the Muslims of the Cape of Good Hope (now in South Africa) in 1863, via
honorary consul-general de Roubaix, upon the request of the Muslim Community.
As the area was a British colony, the Governor of Cape of Good Hope sent the petition
of the Muslims to the Queen detailing the situations of Muslims and their request.
The matter was referred to H. E. Muzawras, the Ottoman ambassador to London. He
conveyed this to the Ottoman Sultan—caliphate of the time—and an order was
issued from the Sultan’s Palace that a scholar be sent to South Africa.With the arrival
of Abu Bakr Effendi, a strong bridge was built between the Muslims of the Cape of
Good Hope and Turkey due to his contribution to South Africa. As a sign of this, the
Muslims of South Africa had actively participated in the Hijaz railway construction
campaigns. They had raised funds and collected at least 366,551 pounds between 1900
and 1907.10 After the donations the Ottoman State distributed more than 200 medals
in gold, silver and nickel to those who contributed.11 In the past, some members of
the Effendi family were involved in politics and played an active role in South African
society. Currently, the Effendi surname identifies a well-known family in South
Africa. Some of his progeny went back to Turkey; others immigrated to Canada, New
Zealand and Australia.12
After the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turkey–Africa relations
reached their lowest level. This is accounted for by several reasons such as domestic
consideration of both sides and colonialism. However, Turkey started to attach
importance to Africa slowly during the cold war years. Turkey developed relations
with North African states economically and politically. However, these relations were
shaped by the conditions of the cold war bipolarity thus were sometimes at odds with
the historical public sentiment toward the continent. For example, Turkey’s position
on Algerian independence in 1956, when Turkey voted against the independence in
the UN General Assembly,13 is still remembered as a historical ‘failure’ in that sense.
Turkey’s relations with North African countries has developed, albeit in a limited way,
especially since the 1970s as part of Turkey’s efforts to diversify its economic and
political relations, but Sub-Saharan Africa never gained a position of special
importance within the Turkish foreign policy of the time. Nevertheless, Turkey played
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a relatively minor role in the independence of Namibia and Zimbabwe. Similarly,
when Ghana became independent in 1957, Turkey recognized Ghana and opened a
resident embassy at a later stage.With the decolonization process in Africa in the late
1950s and early 1960s, Turkey recognized all newly independent countries,
established diplomatic relations and opened resident embassies in some of them.14
Turkey opened the first official mission, the Turkish Consulate General in Lagos, in
1956.15 It tried its best to establish and develop economic, cultural and political ties,
in particular, with black African countries. In that sense, several strides were made in
the late 1960s and 1970s. However, this was not based on a long-term relationship
and Turkey was not really seriously involved in African affairs.
Exemplifying the nature of Turkey’s relations with Africa until 1998, the experience
of a Turkish diplomat who served in Africa in the 1960s and 1990s is very explanatory
and therefore deserves to be quoted here at length:
Permit me to share also with you some interesting experiences of mine at
the time of my two assignments in African Countries as a young diplomat
in Ghana in the middle year of 1960s and as Ambassador in Nigeria during
the first half of 1990s.
First, Ghana, as a new independent country wanting to diversify its trade
approached Turkish Embassy to import Tobacco. We informed the
Ministry. But we were not able to receive any response. The Israel Embassy’s
trade attache´ proposed to do joint trade to Ghana and elsewhere in Africa.
We were not able to give any answer to that proposal as well.
Just before I left Ankara to take up my duty to Nigeria in 1990, the first
meeting of Joint Economic Commission was held in Ankara. The second
meeting had to be held in Nigeria. But, it was not possible to organize this
meeting during 5 years I served there. There was a standing invitation to
our Foreign Minister to visit Lagos. I tried to do my best for the realization
of this visit. I was not able make it possible too. Among the decisions of 1st
Joint Economic Commission there was cooperation on energy matters and
possible import by Turkey Nigerian oil and liquidified natural gas. I tried to
get the view of the Government on this matter—Surprisingly I had a reply.
It was as follows; ‘Turkey is in negotiation with neighboring countries and
was not interested with Nigerian oil and gas.’16
When the decolonization process started in Africa, Turkey missed the opportunity
to develop permanent political, economic and commercial relations with Africa even
though it had designed an opening plan in the 1970s as part of an attempt to diversify
its foreign policy when Turkey was undergoing difficult times with its Western allies
due to the Cyprus issue. It could be seen partly as a result of other issues persisting in
Turkish policy of the time, however, the main reason was certainly the lack of Turkey’s
interest and of knowledge and strategy about how/what to do about Africa. Turkish
opening to Africa has come only in the late 1990s with the Africa Action Plan adopted
in 1998. This opening has been taken very seriously especially by the AKP government
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since 2002 and supported by various civil society organizations in Turkey. What is
different and unique in this new orientation of Turkish foreign policy is that it aims to
overcome geographically two Africa concepts and create a new and united image of
Africa in Turkish society.Underlying this point, when Africa is debated, neither special
treatment to North Africa nor a (mostly imaginative) negative image of Sub-Saharan
Africa persists. Turkey seems to be (re-)discovering Africa as a whole while businessmen
and politicians are busy developing strong connections with Africa.17
Why Africa? Understanding the ‘New’ Turkish Foreign Policy
It is commonplace to argue that Turkey had started to change not in 2002, but some 20
years earlier, in the 1980s. It was with Turgut O¨ zal that Turkey began to change its
orientation towards greater openness to the outside world especially at the economic
level.18O¨ zal saw for Turkey more opportunities than threats and the most important
opportunities were economic.He also altered the national role conception and foreign
policy orientation of Turkey while serving as a main referent to current AKP policies.19
A comparison betweenO¨ zal’s foreign policy and the AKP’s foreign policy indicates
the main differences between the two, despite some convergence such as the
importance of developing closer economic relations with the world. O¨ zal’s foreign
policy perspective, first, was ‘functionalist’ in that it emphasized primarily the
importance of the advancement of economic relations.20 Second, it was very much
utilitarian in the sense that it perceived Turkey’s relations with other regions as part of
Turkey’s interest in advancing its relations with the West. Therefore, the metaphor of
a ‘bridge’ between the East and the West was quite dominant in O¨ zal’s approach.21
However, the AKP has developed a new regional vision originating mostly from
historical and cultural depth. The new engagement has been dynamic and proactive as
well as Ankara-centric, meaning that it should not only be an extension of Turkey’s
relations with the West.22 In this context, it is not surprising that Turkey’s role as a
‘bridge’ is questioned as such a role symbolizes passivity and dilutes Turkey’s central
position in global politics.23 The AKP’s vision also includes more institutionalized
regional engagement24 and aspires to play a more independent role in foreign affairs.25
In a nutshell, the AKP foreign policy has been more sophisticated in its style and
discourses than O¨ zal’s opening, and is likely to have a long-term impact; hence,
requires an in-depth analysis to comprehend Turkey’s current Africa policy.
The students of Turkish foreign policy since 2002 point to one key person as the
brain behind the foreign policy of the AKP governments: Ahmet Davutog˘lu. He was a
foreign policy advisor (2003–2009) to Prime Minister Erdog˘an and since May 2009
appointed as foreign minister. In order to locate the Turkish opening to Africa within
a broader context, it is imperative to understand the Strategic Depth of Davutog˘lu,
which became the guidance for Turkish foreign policy, as articulated in his writings.26
He has exerted huge influence on foreign policymaking at both theoretical and
practical levels; thus, he is considered to be the main architect behind Turkey’s new
foreign policy orientation. Perhaps an indication of this can be seen in an analysis of
The Economist, which argued that ‘dealing with Turkish foreign policy means dealing
with Mr Davutog˘lu’.27
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Here, the Strategic Depth will not be discussed in detail rather a speech of
Davutog˘lu;28 a general conceptual picture of Turkish foreign policy will be outlined.
According to him, there are three methodological and six operative principles of
Turkish foreign policy today. First, methodology is a ‘visionary approach, not a crisis
oriented approach’.29 Because of the characteristic of the cold war, Turkey’s options
were limited as it was part of theWestern bloc.Now, Turkey seems to be ‘implementing
a vision-oriented foreign policy’.30 The second methodological principle is ‘a
consistent, systematic framework’ that guides Turkey in foreign affairs.31 This means
that Turkey’s involvement or relations with one area should not be seen as a contrast to
others. Therefore, Turkey’s endeavour to develop political and economic relations
with the Middle East, Asia and Africa is not an alternative to its European vocation and
its strong intention to be a member of the European Union (EU). Davutog˘lu argues
that there is one approach behind this new policy of Turkey and all complement and
support each other. The third methodological principle is ‘to have a new style, in the
sense of political rhetoric, tools and instrument’.32 This is called ‘soft power’, which is
new in Turkish foreign policy.While Turkey is using today more soft power than hard
power, it has not ignored its military potential as it consistently develops it based on
new technological advancements.
With regard to operational principles, first, Davutog˘lu emphasizes ‘the balance
between security and freedom’.33He argues that ‘if you ignore security for freedom you
will have anger and chaos. If you ignore freedom for security, you will have an
authoritarian, autocratic society.’34 This principle has been very important for
consolidation of Turkish domestic politics and entrance negotiations for the EU. The
second principle is ‘zero problems with our neighbours’.35 As a result of this, Turkey
has developed economic and political relations with all neighbouring countries and
signed high-level consultation agreements with Syria and Iraq. Turkey signed a
protocol with Armenia and now has better relations with Greece, Russia and Georgia.
The third operative principle is to have ‘proactive peace diplomacy, not only with
neighbours, but with all the regions’.36 Turkey’s active involvement in the Iraqi–Syrian
dispute in 2010, facilitation of Syria–Israeli peace efforts before the Israeli offensive in
Gaza in 2009 and its active diplomacy to prevent a conflict between Georgia and Russia
in 2008 are a few examples as a result of this principle. Similarly, Turkish activities
for Sunni–Shiite reconciliation in Iraq, domestic reconciliation in Lebanon and
reconciliation negotiations between Serbia and Bosnia are from Turkey’s immediate
neighbourhood, however, the recent official requests for Turkish mediation from
different parts of the world like Somalia and Philippines37 indicates the possible future
involvement of Turkey in global affairs.
The fourth principle is to have ‘compatible global relations’.38 As the international
system is no longer bipolar, Turkey considers any good relations with any regions as
distinct as with the EU. This is where Turkey’s opening to Africa finds its place in the
new foreign policy formulation. From this perspective, Turkey sees its relations with
Africa not as a temporary venture; rather it is part of its re-orientation in a changing
global political economy. ‘Active involvement in all global and international issues, in
all international organizations’ is cited as the fifth operational principle that also
explains the involvement of Turkey in Africa and other continents.39 In 2009, Turkey
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was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and also is a
member of the G20. Similarly, Turkey holds observer status both in the African Union
and the Arab League, and wants ‘to be a part of the Pacific Forum’. Along with these
involvements, Turkey will open ‘new embassies in Africa and in Latin America’. The
last principle, Davutog˘lu argues, is try to ‘work hard on all of these fronts’ without
creating an issue of changing axis and ‘to defend regional and global peace’.40
These principles are important for understanding the theoretical background of
Turkey’s new involvement in Africa and its new re-orientation within global politics.
However, there is another document that may be seen as a road map in managing
Turkey’s opening to Africa since 1998, which needs to be outlined here. In 1998,
Turkey adopted a policy document titled ‘Opening up to Africa Policy’. As outlined
above, this was part of expanding Turkey’s foreign policy options with different
regions and continents, initiated by then Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. In this
framework, Turkey hoped to further develop its political, economic and cultural ties
with African countries in the forthcoming period. The document outlined policy
recommendations. It comprises several areas such as developing diplomatic relations
and improving political, economic and cultural cooperation.41 In the diplomatic area,
it was suggested to upgrade the level of diplomatic representation in Africa and it was
decided to open three new embassies. This was an important step as during the 1990s
three embassies were closed down due to economic reasons (Ghana, Somalia and
Tanzania). Another measure in this field was accreditation of ambassadors directly
from Ankara to some African countries. According to this, Turkish ambassadors
would be sent to African capitals as special emissaries in order to develop bilateral
As political measures, some concrete steps were proposed, such as (i) organization
of high-level visits from African countries; (ii) establishment of political consultation
mechanisms; (iii) intensification of contacts with African countries within international
organizations; (iv) reciprocal inter-parliamentary visits; (v) visits of Turkish
delegations to various African countries; and (vi) contribution to various UN
technical and humanitarian assistance programmes.43
Economic measures were the central part of the document and listed the following
proposals: (i) conclusion of Agreements of Trade, Technical, Economic and Scientific
Cooperation, Prevention of Double Taxation and Mutual Promotion and Protection
of investments in order to complete the legal framework of economic and trade
relations; (ii) invitation of technical ministers from Africa such as Ministers of Trade,
Industry, Health, Agriculture and Education in order to determine possible areas of
cooperation, and invitation of African Ministers of Trade to Izmir International Fair;
(iii) organization of short-term training programmes for African experts in the fields
of health, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, mining, water management, free zones, etc.
and sending Turkish experts to Africa in the same sectors; (iv) creation of a special
technical assistance fund to be used only for Africa; (v) realization of Turkey’s
membership in the African Development Bank and the African Exports and Imports
Bank as an indication of Turkey’s political will and Turkish contractors’ involvement
in the projects financed by them; and (vi) exchange of visits by businessmen and
creation of Joint Business Councils or Chambers of Commerce.44
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To improve cultural cooperation and interaction in the field of education, it was
proposed to increase contacts between universities. The invitation of African scholars
to various international conferences and festivals was also listed. Cooperation in
military training, Turkish contribution to the UN peacekeeping activities and
invitation of Africans for military exercises in Turkey were considered important
along with the creation of an Institute of African Studies in order to enlighten the
Turkish public and to better understand Africa.45
As can be seen, the document was very clear in detailing the policy of Turkey in
Africa. However, domestic political reasons and the lack of political will and logistics
prevented Turkey from realizing its opening to Africa in earlier years. With the AKP,
a new synergy has been created in Turkish foreign policy with regard to Africa,
changing the discourse on Turkey–Africa relations.
Turkey in Africa: Anatomy of a Soft Power Engagement
In fact, Turkish opening to Africa has been an intensive attempt to revitalize relations
from the Turkish side in several ways. On the one hand, Turkey has increased its
financial aid to Africa both through international agencies and its own official aid and
cooperation agency. On the other hand, Turkey announced 2005 as ‘the year of
Africa’, hosted the first Turkey–Africa Summit in Istanbul in 2008 and opened 15 new
embassies since then, increasing the total number of Turkish resident embassies to 27
in Africa. In their discourse on the opening to Africa, Turkish officials have usually
emphasized increasing trade relations with Africa and economic development.
However, Africa has only showed a recent interest in developing relations with
Turkey. The scope of the relations may be categorized in three sections, ranging from
humanitarianism to economy and African reaction. The response from the African
side, by and large, has been a mixture of confusion and hope. Whether such an
African interest and Turkish eagerness may converge in future is an important issue
that will define the future of Turkey’s opening to Africa.
Aid, Humanitarianism and Politics
In the last decade, aid has been one of the strong foreign policy elements in Turkey’s
overall foreign policy in general and its Africa policy in particular. It has been part
of its soft power strategy. The official Turkish aid agency, Turkish International
Development and Cooperation Agency (TIKA), currently operates in Africa through
three offices located in Addis Ababa, Khartoum and Dakar as part of Turkey’s
development aid to Africa. TIKA was initially established to help the transition of the
states in Central Asia, Caucasus and the Balkans. However, after 2003, it transformed
into a more global aid agency and expanded its area of operation. One of the regions
that this expansion showed itself has been Africa.46 Through these offices, Turkey has
a strong will to widen cooperation with Africa and currently out of its three regional
offices it implements projects in 37 African countries.47 Turkey has also promised to
provide technical assistance to African countries through TIKA. It would also strive
to open an affiliate office in other African countries to further cement cooperation
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with Africa on the basis of several priorities. President Gu¨l argued that Turkey
attempts to build relations with Africa by taking ‘health, education, agriculture,
environment, infrastructure and capacity-building’ as strategic areas to take action.48
Besides the activities of TIKA, Turkey has also utilized international organizations
to provide aid to Africa. For example, through theWorld Health Organization,World
Food Programme (WFP) and the Red Crescent, Turkey has donated 7.5 million USD
to various African countries to assist them to cope with the negative effect of drought
and other natural disasters. In 2008, Turkey allocated 3.5 million USD as humanitarian
aid through the WFP,49 while in 2009, it made a modest donation of 0.5 million
USD to the African Union budget.50 In a similar vein in 2007, Turkey for the first time
hosted a summit of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) in Istanbul, 33 of which are
in Africa out of 49. In this summit, Turkey committed 20 million USD development
aid for their use. To show Turkey’s seriousness and commitment to development of
the LDC members, Ankara also hosted the fourth conference on Least Developed
Countries in the first half of 2011.51
Turkey’s increased humanitarian involvement and leadership in Africa really
became prominent when the drought and famine situation became worse in East
Africa. On 19 August 2011, Prime Minister Erdog˘an visited Somalia, arguably the
worst affected country from famine and drought, to draw international attention to
the country’s deadly situation. He became the first leader from outside Africa to visit
Somalia in nearly two decades. Erdog˘an took his wife, daughter and an entourage
consisting of cabinet members and their families with him to Somalia, and visited
refugee camps and hospitals to witness the devastation caused by the severe drought.
Erdog˘an also brought the issue to the UN General Assembly meeting in September
2011 and called on the international community for a continued approach to find a
long-lasting solution. Turkey has also opened an embassy in Mogadishu to show its
seriousness and took severalmeasures to help Somalia improve its infrastructure, which
included digging wells to improve water supply, building a major hospital, six field
hospitals and a highway from Mogadishu Airport to the city centre, as well as facilities
for waste management to clean upMogadishu’s rubbish-strewn streets.52 The Housing
Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI) will also build houses and schools in
the famine-hit country in the near future.Whether Turkish involvement in Somalia will
bring any peace and stability is yet to be seen, but it clearly showed Turkey as ‘a new
humanitarian power’ in Africa.53 It has also indicated that Turkish involvement is likely
to increase and even turn to focus more on political aspects of the problems.
In the last several years, Africa has been experiencing a trend to forge new
partnerships or renew existing ones with several countries as conglomerate economic
and political entities or individually. Such strategic partnerships entered enforcement
under ACP–EU and in the form of cooperation with individual countries such as
China, Japan, Brazil and India. The Turkey–Africa partnership may be seen as the
latest strategic link in a similar vain. The first Turkey–Africa Cooperation Summit was
held under the theme ‘Solidarity and Partnership for a Common Future’ from18 to 21
August 2008, in Istanbul. The summit was considered by many as a success in terms of
Turkey–Africa economic relations. It has achieved several concrete results including a
decision that the next summit is to be held in an African country in 2013.54
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The summit brought together the leaders and representatives from 50 member
states of the African Union with the absence of Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.
The AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, representatives of some 11 international
organizations and hundreds from business communities were also present. The
summit concluded by adopting two documents: ‘The Istanbul Declaration’ and
‘Turkey–Africa Partnership Framework Document’, which were prepared by senior
experts and ministers. The framework document reads:
Acknowledging the critical role that Trade and Investment should play
within the framework of this partnership as agents of development [ . . . ]
and we pledge to create a favourable legal and stimulating business
environment for economic cooperation as a central pillar of the Africa–
Turkey Partnership.55
The immediate objective of the summit was two-fold. First, as part of Turkey’s
serious effort to expand ties and increase trade volume with the African continent, it
has been a venue where Turkey wanted to prove its seriousness. It seems that Turkey
convinced African leaders, as a joint decision was announced at the end of the summit
that the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) and the
Union of African Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Professions
(UACCIAP) are to cooperate to establish the Turkish–African Chamber for furthering
commercial relations.56 Turkey’s second immediate aim was to gain the support of
African nations in its bid to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council
in 2009–10. Apparently, Turkey was successful in this goal as the Turkish President Gu¨l
confidently spoke that African countries fully supported Turkey’s candidacy during
the summit57 and the result of the election in September 2008 held by the UN General
Assembly indicated that Turkey received 151 votes.58
Trade and Institutional Cooperation
Nothing can summarize the remarkable change of Turkey–Africa relations better than
the increasing trade and institutional cooperation between the two. The year 2005 was
a turning point in Turkey’s relations with Africa. Turkey obtained observer status in
the African Union in 2005, which declared it a strategic partner in January 2008. In
May 2008, Turkey joined the African Development Bank and has strengthened its
relations with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa and
the Economic Community ofWest African States.59 The Foreign Economic Relations
Board of Turkey (DEIK) has established eight Business Councils as part of Ankara’s
attempts to increase business activities with Africa. Turkish Business Councils are
operating in Ethiopia, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, South Africa, Sudan and
Tunisia. To accelerate these relations further, in 2008, Turkey opened 15 new embassies
in Africa, in addition to the 12 it already had on the continent, more than doubling the
density of its diplomatic representation in Africa. In 2009 alone, Turkey appointed
eight new ambassadors responsible for opening embassies in their designated
countries and starting to work as soon as possible.60 By December 2011, legal
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procedures had been completed for opening six more embassies and once all of them
are completed, Turkey will have 33 embassies in Africa.
While these developments at the political and institutional level are important,
Turkish opening to Africa is underwritten by soaring bilateral trade. Turkey’s trade
volume with African countries was only 5.4 billion USD in 2003, and it increased
more than two-fold exceeding 16 billion USD in 2008 and despite the economic
crisis it did not lose its pace by numbering around 16 billion USD in 2009 (Table 1).
Yet, considering Turkey’s total trade volume with the rest of the world, the current
trade volume with African countries is not significant. Turkey’s target is to increase
trade volume with Africa to around 30 billion USD; however, given the situation of
the global economic crisis since 2009 it may not be possible to reach that target
According to the business organization the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen
and Industrialists (TUSKON), which is very active in Turkey’s Africa relations
through its Turkey–Africa business meetings in Turkey, African countries are mostly
demanding furniture, apparels, durable house products, home textiles, processed
food, packaging devices, iron–steel, electrical devices and construction materials;
while Turkey is mostly buying oil, raw materials, gold and minerals from Africa. To
diversify the nature of relations and urge investment in Africa by Turkish
businessmen, Rizanur Meral, the chairman of TUSKON, has frequently underlined
the importance of investing in African countries by pointing out that there are
significant potentials in investing especially ‘in dwelling and construction industries
in Africa’.61 The current nature of the relations is not exhaustive and the potential of
cooperation is yet to be explored. For example, there are signs that African nations are
interested in Turkey’s agricultural expertise. During the Istanbul summit of the
Union of African Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, and Professions
(UACCIAP), President Mohamed El Masry noted that the causes of Africa’s current
food crisis were not well understood in many Western nations; but as Turkey’s
agriculture sector had experience in raising food under adverse conditions,
cooperation utilizing Turkish agricultural expertise could prove invaluable.62
Table 1 Turkey’s Trade with Africa (1997–2009)
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Exports ($ million)
North Africa 980 1502 1344 1087 1150 1267 1577 2203 2544 3097 4030 5850 7447
Sub-Saharan Africa 253 316 311 285 371 430 554 765 1087 1469 1947 3212 2732
Total 1234 1818 1655 1373 1521 1697 2131 2968 3631 4566 5976 9062 10,179
Imports ($ million)
North Africa 1813 1493 1404 2257 2115 2138 2519 3231 4212 4878 3616 5267 3542
Sub-Saharan Africa 385 265 283 457 704 558 820 1589 1835 2526 3168 2503 2158
Total 2197 1758 1687 2714 2819 2696 3338 4820 6047 7405 6784 7770 5700
Source: Turkish PM, the Undersecretary of Foreign Trade website, ,
(20 May 2010).
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Since 2005, there have been quite a few prominent meetings between Turkey and
African nations. These meetings have taken place both at the ministerial and private
sector levels and have become so common that arguably Turkey’s ‘historical ties with
Africa are being revived’.63 However, Turkey’s keen interest in Africa seems to be
going beyond establishing only historical ties. Turkey is interested in bringing Africa
to the international attention and indicated its help for this purpose.64 When
President Gu¨l visited Kenya and Tanzania in February 2009, he pointed out that all
but two African countries65 had supported Turkey’s candidacy in 2008 for a two-year,
non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, thus ‘the Turkish Republic will be
the spokesman for Africa at the UN. It will support Africa on all of its issues.’66 Such
solidarity expressions have been very frequent since the 2008 Turkey–Africa Summit
in the speeches of Turkish leaders. For example, in a statement President Gu¨l once
again made clear that ‘everyone should show an undivided interest in Africa without
losing time. [In that sense] Turkey indicates its responsibility towards Africa.’67
In general, Turkey’s approach to developing trade with African nations seems to
differ from that of a number of nations seeking business opportunities on the
continent, whose overriding interests are Africa’s oil resources. As a mid-sized nation
with a developing economy, Turkey carries none of the free market capitalist baggage
aimed at securing the best deal at any cost that Africans so resent. By concentrating on
lower profile development issues such as agriculture, arguably Turkish initiatives
carry the promise of affecting genuine change in the lives of masses of Africans.68
In both the literature and society, there is a general assumption that what lies
behind the new interest in emerging states in Africa is energy resources. This cannot
be rejected outright as it is documented well in other places.69 In the case of Turkey,
this has been refuted by many Turkish officials arguing that Turkey’s interest is based
on ‘to exchange competencies and technologies with Africa’.70 More recently, the
president of the Africa–Turkey Chamber of Commerce, Rifat Hisarciklioglu, has
dispelled the notion that Turkey is coming to Africa in search of raw materials: ‘we are
not coming to Africa for raw materials and in search of a supermarket; we are
interested in lending our manufacturing expertise to Africa’.71
African Reactions: Cautious but Curious
As mentioned, African reactions to Turkey’s initiative have so far been a mixture of
mild expectation and confusion. Following China and India, the question of why
Turkey has shown what some consider an unexpected interest in the continent still
does not have a clear answer for its African partners. Nevertheless, the fact that
Turkey does not have a colonial background on the continent and an emphasis on
equal partnership is welcomed and has created optimism about the future.72
The lack of interest from Sub-Saharan Africa to develop relations with Turkey was
very dominant and has hindered the economic development until recently (Tables 2
and 3) compared to North Africa’s trade with Turkey (Table 4). This trend seems to be
changing due to the increasing economic potential of Turkey since 2002 in global
affairs. Since 1998, Turkey has shown a keen interest to sign a Free Trade Agreement
with the South African Custom Union (SACU), but there has been reluctance
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especially on the part of South Africa, the biggest economy of the SACU. Perhaps as a
sign of the recognition of Turkey’s new status, inMay 2009 for the first time the South
African Department of Trade and Industry announced a study into the potential for a
free trade deal between the SACU and Turkey.73
In recent years, African business, too, in Turkey has made serious inroads especially
in the financial sector. For example, South African Standard Bank has been active in
Turkey since 1999 and bought a Turkish broker dealer in 2002. However, the major
development occurred in 2007 when Standard Bank bought a majority stake in
Turkish investment banking and brokerage firm Dundas Unlu with an initial 67 per
cent shareholding. With a new name, Standard Unlu, Standard Bank is expected to
substantially develop its business and possibly with further investment in banking
services in Turkey.74 As it is shown in Table 3, African exports to Turkey have also
been on the rise since 2002 especially from key countries in the continent. The
amount of increase is noteworthy in the case of South Africa, which jumped from 212
million USD in 2002 to 1503 million USD in 2008. A similar jump can also be
observed in the volume of exports from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and others to
Table 2 Turkey’s Imports from Selected Sub-Saharan Countries (1997–2009)
Imports ($ million)
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
South Africa 184 153 124 172 346 212 336 1007 1260 1794 2173 1503 1104
Nigeria 17 3 5 133 229 182 224 195 235 381 494 522 605
Sudan 10 12 8 5 2 13 8 13 8 8 9 10 8
Kenya 4 2 2 3 4 3 2 2 2 4 13 13 6
Angola 1 – 1 – 1 1 1 1 10 27 1 17 9
Mauritania 1 1 1 – 1 1 2 4 1 1 8 8 1
Niger 1 1 – 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 1
Senegal 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2
Gambia 1 1 1 1 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 0 1
Guinea – 1 – 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7 1
Sierra Leone – – 1 1 1 – – 1 1 2 2 3 3
Liberia 60 3 1 14 8 20 6 25 12 3 1 4 2
Ivory Coast 26 28 10 10 18 33 44 62 34 44 87 119 91
Ghana 8 15 29 28 36 40 96 81 74 58 42 47 103
Togo – – – 1 3 3 5 5 3 3 1 6 1
Cameroon 12 15 24 15 7 13 21 35 36 26 53 26 22
Equ. Guinea – – 1 1 1 1 2 3 6 34 46 2 1
Gabon 29 21 1 15 8 8 9 19 23 15 24 28 12
Rep. of Congo 2 3 11 2 2 4 7 13 14 16 15 18 7
Ethiopia 1 1 1 1 1 8 21 19 31 24 43 40 36
Djibouti 1 2 – 1 1 – 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Tanzania 3 1 3 2 1 4 5 11 11 16 12 15 12
Mozambique 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 7 13 15 19 11 67
Madagascar 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 2 2 3
Mauritius – 1 2 – 1 2 3 9 10 6 9 11 7
Total 364 268 229 411 677 554 799 1518 1790 2483 3046 2418 2106
Source: Turkish PM, the Undersecretary of Customs, , August
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Table 3 Turkey’s Trade with Selected North African Countries (1997–2009)
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Exports ($ million)
Egypt 305 475 468 376 422 327 346 474 688 710 903 1427 2619
Algeria 318 483 408 384 422 515 574 807 808 1021 1232 1614 1782
Libya 186 96 140 96 68 166 255 338 385 490 644 1075 1800
Tunisia 120 352 239 163 141 122 221 257 295 325 531 779 648
Morocco 52 100 91 71 99 139 181 331 371 552 722 978 601
Total 981 1506 1346 1090 1152 1269 1577 2207 2547 3098 4032 5873 7450
Imports ($ million)
Egypt 399 393 109 141 92 119 190 256 268 393 680 943 642
Algeria 769 648 682 1193 1064 1126 1082 1256 1695 1865 2109 3263 2029
Libya 534 343 503 787 848 755 1073 1515 1990 2298 400 337 403
Tunisia 60 64 67 65 73 72 99 101 118 151 230 365 235
Morocco 53 47 45 73 39 69 77 106 144 174 199 361 235
Total 1815 1495 1406 2259 2116 2141 2521 3234 4215 4881 3618 5269 3544
Source: Turkish PM, the Undersecretary of Customs, , August 2010).
Table 4 Turkey’s Exports to Selected Sub-Saharan Countries (1997–2009)
Exports ($ million)
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
South Africa 72 73 59 72 78 88 122 191 316 599 654 1239 867
Nigeria 17 24 38 46 70 63 67 81 99 84 134 281 258
Sudan 26 35 34 38 55 60 64 89 146 217 180 235 248
Kenya 10 13 12 8 11 9 14 18 51 86 99 234 71
Angola 3 3 3 5 9 12 14 23 27 45 48 183 152
Mauritania 1 1 2 3 5 12 5 6 11 9 11 16 23
Niger 1 1 2 1 1 1 3 4 4 4 12 16 11
Senegal 7 9 11 11 14 20 27 26 35 41 66 91 96
Gambia 1 2 1 2 4 7 11 15 11 12 18 18 21
Guinea 1 2 7 4 5 7 8 8 13 17 19 27 14
Sierra Leone 1 1 1 1 2 2 5 7 6 7 11 16 16
Liberia 27 37 3 10 9 3 20 47 48 10 101 159 172
Ivory Coast 9 13 12 5 9 16 15 15 27 30 33 40 60
Ghana 13 12 62 13 18 23 37 32 32 33 85 101 73
Togo 4 3 2 2 2 9 3 7 6 9 13 18 32
Cameroon 8 13 12 10 9 16 20 22 17 15 25 33 51
Equ. Guinea 3 0 1 1 1 1 1 3 5 11 10 15 21
Gabon 3 3 2 2 2 5 3 4 5 7 23 14 14
Rep. of Congo 1 4 1 3 4 7 6 10 16 15 20 29 15
Ethiopia 37 43 25 28 33 33 51 78 110 92 146 164 229
Djibouti 1 1 3 2 7 4 6 9 8 11 46 41 43
Tanzania 3 6 6 5 3 4 6 8 24 28 31 53 56
Mozambique 2 2 3 2 1 1 5 5 7 9 15 19 25
Madagascar 2 3 3 6 3 5 6 12 10 9 11 23 20
Mauritius 2 3 2 2 2 2 3 5 6 9 23 31 19
Total 255 307 307 282 357 410 522 725 1040 1409 1834 3096 2607
Source: Turkish PM, the Undersecretary of Customs, , August
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The change on the African side is best illustrated in the weaponry dimension of
Turkey–Africa relations. Turkey has had a long-time interest in buying the Rooivalk
attack helicopters for the Turkish army. Since the 1990s, Turkey knocked on the doors
of South African officials with its request, but was rebuffed by then President Nelson
Mandela’s administration due to the Kurdish issue. Relations were further
exacerbated by Mandela’s refusal to accept the Atatu¨rk Peace Prize in 1992 and the
imposition of an arms embargo on Turkey by South Africa in 1995.75 However, the
country’s policies toward Turkey have changed under Mandela’s successor, Thabo
Mbeki. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog˘an made the first visit by a
Turkish head of government to South Africa in March 2005, and in August 2008,
former South African Deputy-President Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka was among the 50
heads of state at the first Turkey–Africa Summit in Istanbul. Apparently since June
2006, a Turkish bid for Rooivalk was viewed by South African officials with a positive
prospect of selling it to Turkey as South African Minister of Public Enterprises Alec
Erwin announced in a press conference to promote the Rooivalk that ‘there would be
a high level of sharing in transfer of technology [with Turkey] . . . that applies to any
program we are involved in with Turkey, not only the Rooivalk’.76
What Future for Turkey–Africa Relations?
Behind much of the lofty political rhetoric about humanitarian aid and economic
development, Turkey’s Africa policy is driven by a long-term orientation of Turkey in
international politics and can be understood within this context.77 Turkey seems to
be following a foreign policy that may eventually lead to diversifying its economic
allies. For example, Turkey is interested in reducing economic dependence on
traditional European and Russian trading partners by efforts such as opening to
Africa. Turkey has understood that the world has changed profoundly and new allies,
strategic calculations and planning are not a necessity but a must in the new global
The case in point here is the EU process. For more than half a century, Turkey has
been trying to become a member of the EU. This has been the backbone of Turkish
foreign policy since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923 through
Westernization and modernization. However, since French President Nicolas
Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Markel took office, a strong rejection of
Turkey to be member of the EU is voiced more loudly. Turkish disappointment with
regard to the EU accession did not create a static anti-European (and anti-EU)
feeling among the public, but led Turkey to diversify its foreign political and
economic relations with other parts of the world: Africa, Latin America, Far East,
Asia and the Middle East. In Ankara there is an understanding that the more Turkey
involves itself in global politics and increases its standing in international affairs, the
more easy Turkey’s accession into the EU will be. Nevertheless, almost all Turkish
leaders, from president to foreign minister, have denied that there is a shift in
Turkish foreign policy from the West to the East; but they emphasized that Turkey’s
relations with other regions is neither a substitute for Turkey–EU relations nor a
change of direction.78 In a broader perspective, Turkey’s opening to Africa is part of
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Turkey’s domestic societal and state-level reconstruction in a changing international
economy. While the emerging multidimensional foreign policy has provided the
theoretical basis of opening to Africa, increasing Turkish involvement in Africa at
political and economic levels represents a smooth convergence of both governmental
and business policies.79 It is interesting to note here that after the global economic
crisis in 2009, Turkey’s opening to Africa has gained more importance in terms of
opening up new markets as a way to decrease the influence of global economic
Turkey has no colonial background in Africa but has cultural and religious ties
dating back to the Ottoman period. This is an advantage for Turkey. However, a
coherent and serious Turkish opening up strategy and a receptive African response
should consider the following points, which may define the nature and speed of
future relations between the two. First of all, the most pressing issue between Turkey
and Africa is the lack of information on both sides about each other. Three strategies
could be implemented: (i) promote exchange students for studying in and about
each other. This will bridge the societal and informational gap. (ii) Exchange
academics between universities. Especially in Southern Africa, there is a lack of
expertise on the Middle East and Turkey, while the same is true for Turkey about
Africa. Creating an African chair for African professors in one (or more) of the
Turkish universities whose education is in English could be a good start. This might
lead to an institute in the long run. (iii) Cooperation between African and Turkish
think tanks for organizing joint conferences and publications on both sides on
Turkish and African issues would create awareness equally important on both
It is a well-known fact that until recently, modern Turkey never paid attention to
African affairs82 and Africa is known in Turkey only through the TV images of
hunger, poverty, AIDS and all the other negative elements. Partly because of this,
there is hardly any credible information about Africa not only in academia but also in
government circles. As an academic subject, Africa has long been taught only within
the larger context of world political history, and it was almost impossible to find an
expert on the continent or a basic textbook or article. However, over the past decade
and a half, Turkish policymakers have carefully shaped an African dimension to
Turkey’s foreign policy that is increasingly involved in a dizzying range of sectors
from trade to transport, health to humanitarian aid.
Turkey’s opening to Africa is a result of both Turkey’s domestic transformation and
a change in the global political economy. Turkey’s domestic transformation has
challenged the traditional Turkish partners in the economy and aimed at diversifying
its trade alternatives in line with the change in the global political economy power
configuration. Change in the international system led countries to define their own
interest in a newly emerging system. Turkey’s response to such changes has been to
define a multidimensional foreign policy and develop economic and political
relations with not only immediate neighbours but also other regions and continents.
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Turkey’s Africa opening is part and parcel of this new redefinition of Turkish foreign
The recent global economic crisis has also contributed to this redefinition in the
African context by accelerating the process, as it has generated major damage in
Turkey’s traditional export markets, Europe and the USA, forcing Turkish companies
to look further afield. Put boldly, a major Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, did not
hesitate to run an article titled ‘Africa as a Savior for Turkish Firms’ arguing that
‘many Turkish companies including small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs,
are choosing to head toward Africa, tying their hopes to this new market’.83
In the future, whether the global and domestic developments will bring any change
both in the nature and speed of Turkey–Africa relations is yet to be seen. However,
redefinition of Africa both at conceptual and political levels in Turkish foreign policy
represents a novelty. Yet, there is still a long way to go to develop relations further and
deeper especially in the political field, while economic relations are dominating the
relations for the time being.
[1] See Ali Babacan, speech to the Group of African Countries, New York, 24 July 2008, , http://
[2] See Davut Dursun, Ortadogu Neresi, Insan, Istanbul, 1995.
[3] For more on civil society involvement in Africa, see Mehmet Ozkan and Birol Akgu¨n,
‘Turkey’s opening to Africa’, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 48(4), 2010, pp. 525–546.
[4] See Ozdem Sanberk, ‘Gu¨l do¨neminde Tu¨rk dıs¸ politikası’, Radikal, 21 August 2007; Asli
Aydintasbas, ‘Etiyopya mi?’, Sabah, 3 March 2005.
[5] See Ahmet Kavas, Afrika Raporu, Stratejik Rapor No. 4, TASAM, Istanbul, 2005; Osmanlı-
Afrika Iliskileri, TASAM, Istanbul, 2006.
[6] See Mehmet Ozkan, Turkey Discovers Africa: Implications and Prospects, SETA Policy Brief
No. 22, 2008.
[7] Numan Hazar, ‘The future of Turkish–African relations’, Dis Politika, 25(3/4), 2000,
pp. 109–110.
[8] Ibid., p. 110.
[9] See Tom Wheeler, Turkey and South Africa: Development of Relations 1860–2005, SAIIA
Report No. 47, 2005, pp. 3–5; Serhat Orakc¸ı, ‘The emerging links between the Ottoman
Empire and South Africa’, International Journal of Turkish Studies, 14(1/2), 2008, pp. 47–60;
and Serhat Orakc¸ı, The Ottoman Legacy in South Africa, Lap Lambert, Saarbru¨cken, Germany,
[10] Orhan Kologlu, Hicaz Demiryolu, (1900–1908) Amaci, Finansmani, Sonucu, Cagini Yakalayan
Osmanli, IRCICA, Istanbul, 1995, pp. 220–222.
[11] Selim Argun, ‘The life and contribution of the Osmanli scholar, Abu Bakr Effendi: towards
Islamic thought and culture in South Africa’, unpublished MA thesis, Rand Afrikaans
University, Johannesburg, 2005.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Meliha B. Altunisik, ‘Worldviews and Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East’, New
Perspectives on Turkey, 40, 2009, p. 174.
[14] Hazar, op. cit., p. 110.
[15] Salih Z. Karaca, ‘Turkish foreign policy in the year 2000 and beyond: her opening up policy to
Africa’, Dis Politika, 25(3/4), 2000, p. 116.
130 Mehmet Ozkan
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[16] Ibid., p. 118.
[17] For specific details of these activities in 2009 and 2010, see Mehmet Ozkan, ‘Turkiye’nin
Africa Politikasi 2009’, in Burhanettin Duran, Kemal Inat and Muhittin Ataman (eds), Tu¨rk
Dıs¸ Politikası Yıllıg˘ı 2009, SETA, Ankara, 2011, pp. 571–601; and Mehmet Ozkan,
‘Tu¨rkiye’nin Afrika Politikası 2010’, in Burhanettin Duran, Kemal Inat and Muhittin Ataman
(eds), Tu¨rk Dıs¸ Politikası Yıllıg˘ı 2010, SETA, Ankara, 2011, pp. 501–527.
[18] Muhittin Ataman, ‘Leadership change:O¨ zal’s leadership and restructuring in Turkish foreign
policy’, Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, 7(1), 2008, pp. 120–153; Sedat
Laciner, ‘Turgut O¨ zal period in Turkish foreign policy: O¨ zalism’, USAK Yearbook of
International Politics and Law, 2, 2009, pp. 153–205.
[19] Bulent Aras and Aylin Gorener, ‘National role conceptions and foreign policy orientation: the
ideational bases of the Justice and Development Party’s foreign policy activism in the Middle
East’, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 12(1), 2010, pp. 79–81.
[20] Altunisik, op. cit., p. 181.
[21] Ibid., p. 182; Aras and Gorener, op. cit., p. 80.
[22] Altunisik, op. cit., p. 188; Ahmet Davutog˘lu, ‘Turkey’s new foreign policy vision: an
assessment of 2007’, Insight Turkey, 10(1), 2008, pp. 77–96.
[23] Altunisik, op. cit., p. 188.
[24] Ibid., p. 189.
[25] Ibid., p. 191.
[26] See Ahmet Davutog˘lu, Stratejik Derinlik, Kure, Istanbul, 2001; Davutog˘lu, ‘Turkey’s new
foreign policy vision’, op. cit.
[27] See The Economist, 17 November 2007; Bulent Aras, ‘The Davutog˘lu era in Turkish foreign
policy’, Insight Turkey, 11(3), 2009, pp. 127–142.
[28] Ahmet Davutog˘lu, ‘Principles of Turkish foreign policy’, address by H.E. Foreign Minister of
Republic of Turkey at the SETA Foundation’s Washington, DC Branch, 8 December
2009, ,
[29] Ibid., p. 6.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid., p. 7.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Ibid., p. 8.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Ibid., p. 11.
[37] Ibid., p. 12.
[38] Ibid.
[39] Ibid.
[40] Ibid., p. 13.
[41] The content of the document is based on Hazar, op. cit., pp. 111–113.
[42] Hazar, op. cit., p. 112.
[43] Ibid.
[44] Ibid.
[45] Ibid., p. 113.
[46] See Hakan Fidan and Rahman Nurdun, ‘Turkey’s role in the global development assistance
community: the case of TIKA’, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, 10(1), 2008,
pp. 93–111.
[47] See Abdullah Gu¨l, ‘Africa’s development needs: state of implementation of various commitments,
challenges and the way forward’, remarks by President of Turkey in New York, 22
September 2008, ,
[48] Ibid.
[49] See ,, 17 August 2008.
A New Actor or Passer-By? 131
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[50] See AUC News, No. 38, March 2009.
[51] See ,¼53411 ., 12 February 2010.
[52] See ‘Somalia famine: Turkish PM Erdogan visits Mogadishu’, ,
world-africa-14588960., 19 August 2011.
[53] Abdirahman Ali, ‘Turkey’s foray into Africa: a new humanitarian power?’, Insight Turkey,
13(4), 2011, pp. 65–73.
[54] See ,¼26942 ., 20 August 2008.
[55] See ,, 15 January 2010,
pp. 1–2.
[56] Zaman, 21 August 2008, p. 11.
[57] See ,¼26942 ., 20 August 2008.
[58] See Akif Kirecci, Turkey in the United Nations Security Council, SETA Policy Brief No. 28,
2009; and Birol Akgun, Turkiye’nin Birlesmis Milletler Guvenlik Konseyi Uyeligi: Amac, Surec ve
Beklentiler, Selcuk University, SAM Research Paper 1, July 2009.
[59] See Mehmet Ozkan, ‘What drives Turkey’s involvement in Africa?’, Review of African Political
Economy, 37(126), 2010, pp. 533–540; Mehmet Ozkan, ‘Turkey’s rising role in Africa’, Turkish
Policy Quarterly, 9(4), 2010/2011, pp. 93–105.
[60] Hurriyet, 29 July 2009.
[61] See ,, 23
June 2009.
[62] Quoted in J. C. K. Daly, ‘Turkey courts Africa’, Eurasia Daily Monitor, 5(183), 23 September
[63] See Abdullah Gu¨l, ‘Turkish foreign policy in the new era’, lecture at USAK, 16 December
2009, ,
[64] In that sense, a Francophone perspective on the issue is worth seeing, ‘Old Ottoman friends,
new “voice of Africa”?’, 16 April 2009, ,
friend-new-voice-of-africa.html?Itemid¼35?articleid ¼ 0240 ..
[65] Reportedly these two countries were South Africa and Mozambique.
[66] Today’s Zaman, 24 February 2008.
[67] Gu¨l, ‘Turkish foreign policy in the new era’, op. cit.
[68] Daly, op. cit.
[69] See, among others, Francis A. Kornegay and Chris Landsberg, ‘Engaging emerging powers:
Africa’s search for a “common position”’, Politikon, 36(1), 2009, pp. 171–191.
[70] See ,, 14 December 2009.
[71] Ibid.
[72] See Tom Wheeler, ‘Turkey’s outreach to Africa’, 25 August 2008, ,
[73] Quoted in Peter Delonno, ‘Turkey gets on with business—on its own terms’, Business Report, 9
June 2009, p. 20, ,¼5026771 ..
[74] See ,
[75] Wheeler, Turkey and South Africa, op. cit., pp. 17–22.
[76] Quoted in Business Report, 1 June 2006, ,
fSectionId¼561&fArticleId ¼ 3272460 . .
[77] See David Neylan, ‘Turkey focuses on Africa as it looks to diversify EU, Russian trade’, Today’s
Zaman, 9 October 2008.
[78] See E. Fuat Keyman, ‘Globalization, modernity and democracy: in search of a viable domestic
polity for a sustainable Turkish foreign policy’, New Perspectives on Turkey, 40, 2009, pp. 7–27;
Cengiz Candar, Turkey’s ‘Soft Power’ Strategy: A New Vision for a Multi-Polar World, SETA
Policy Brief No. 38, 2009.
[79] See Daly, op. cit.
[80] See ,
132 Mehmet Ozkan
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[81] Ozkan, Turkey Discovers Africa: Implications and Prospects, pp. 7–8.
[82] Kavas, Afrika Raporu, op. cit., p. 17.
[83] Hurriyet, 27 January 2009.
Mehmet Ozkan is Senior Assistant and Lecturer in International Relations at the
International University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a PhD candidate
at Sevilla University, Spain. His research interests include comparative politics; non-
Western IR theory; religion and politics; African studies; Middle Eastern politics;
Turkish foreign policy; and South Africa and India.
Address for correspondence: Faculty of Business and Administration, International
University of Sarajevo, Hrasnicka Cesta 15, 71000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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