President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to journalists on his flight from Angola, Togo and Nigeria and answered questions on current events.
Noting that the official visits, which began on October 17 as part of the Western Africa tour, were fruitful, President Erdoğan said they paid 41 visits to 30 African countries thus far.
Underlining that even these figures alone demonstrate their commitment to improving Türkiye’s relations with the African continent, President Erdoğan stated that he discussed bilateral relations and regional issues during his meetings with the presidents of Angola, Togo, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Nigeria.
President Erdoğan stressed that he addressed the National Assembly of Angola and discussed mutual investment and business opportunities during the Türkiye-Angola Business Forum, noting that he and President João Manuel Lourenço of Angola agreed to strengthen relations in all areas, from education to security, economics to cultural life.
President Erdoğan noted that contacts with Togo further bolstered the momentum gained in recent months as a result of reciprocal ministerial visits, adding that he discussed numerous issues with President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo, most notably the fight against terrorism and regional issues, and they both expressed a desire to strengthen cooperation in political and military matters.
Recalling that he also met with President Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso and President George Manneh Weah of Liberia in Lomé, and he said:
"As the four leaders, we met over a working meal. The declaration that we issued following this meeting with the leaders highlighted, among other things, our decision to boost our security cooperation. We agreed to wage a more effective fight against terrorist organizations such as FETO, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, and DEASH without discrimination. In our meeting with President Buhari of Nigeria, we examined all aspects of the relationship between our countries, and our visit was capped off by the signing of agreements that would strengthen our collaboration. The win-win principle based on mutual respect underpins our Africa vision. Africa is more of a partner to us rather than a market. We are fully aware that some countries view Africa through the lens of their own interests rather than the lens of cooperation, as we do. Rather than relying on hubris, we advocate for an approach to Africa that is built on cooperation, solidarity, shared history, and knowledge and experience exchange. We are pleased to see that our African friends are aware of our sincere approach."
President Erdoğan stated that they will attend the closing session of the Türkiye-Africa 3rd Economic and Business Forum in İstanbul, and that their ties and cooperation with the African continent would be topped off by the 3rd Türkiye-Africa Partnership Summit, which will take place in İstanbul on December 17-18.
After sharing his reflections on his visit to Africa, President Erdoğan answered the questions of press members.
“FETO has a significant infrastructure in Nigeria”
Upon the question, “Your talks in Africa have been widely covered also in the international media. There has been an intense expression of admiration for you and Türkiye in each of the three countries you’ve visited. You have made 41 visits to 30 different African countries so far. Why is Africa important?” President Erdogan said:
“We devised a schedule with my friends. It was also on the agenda in our meeting in Togo. And in accordance with this schedule, if the opportunity arises, I hope to visit other countries close to each other, such as Liberia and Burkina Faso. I want to make visits to the sub-Saharan region in particular. Although I’ve visited South Africa previously, another visit would be beneficial. Of course, South Africa is the most dynamic country in the region. Moreover, South Africa’s defence industry is especially strong. Of course, FETO, unfortunately, has a significant infrastructure also in Nigeria. Here, we discussed these issues in detail with the President of Nigeria, Mr Buhari. We agreed to give directives to our heads of intelligence to work on this and fight against FETO in Nigeria as well. It has a university and a hospital here. We also discussed our request to take them over. He said, ‘Then I will send you my Minister of Health. Let him examine your health system and hospitals on the spot. I know you are successful in this field.’ We said, ‘Let them come, they are welcome’. He will send the Minister of Health to Türkiye as soon as possible.”
Pointing out that this transformation of Türkiye in Africa should not be halted, President Erdoğan said: “We have a lot of work to do in Africa. The meeting of our businessmen in Angola was very productive. But it is not enough; it needs to be maintained and cultivated.”
“They will win, so will we”
Noting that Angola’s most important feature was the abundance of underground resources and that gold, copper, zinc and lead were found in the country, President Erdoğan said, “They ask us to take steps in fair sharing based on win-win principle.’ The diamond deposits are also very abundant. The French exploited them. But they realized this too late.”
Underlining that Türkiye’s concern was not to exploit these lands, President Erdoğan continued as follows:
“On the contrary, we want to assist them and let them profit, so we will. Angola, for example, is in a strong position also in terms of oil. If we take those steps, our investors and entrepreneurs will also make significant profits along with them. Currently, our investors are making investments in Angola. At the same time, they continue to work on different projects such as ports and other infrastructure. There are steps taken by our investors in terms of natural gas and energy. With these steps taken, we will have brought the human relations between us to a much better position. Of course, someone is aware of this. They’re worried that they’re ‘slipping through their grasps.’ Because they always worked unilaterally. That is not how we are. They will win, and so will we. Of course, it will not be easy for them to exploit there again. Imagine, the President of Nigeria, Mr Buhari, says, ‘They killed one million of our people.’ The French also killed one million people in Algeria. They killed 700,000 people in Rwanda. They get mad when you say that. In their understanding, you cannot expose them; you cannot mention these.”
“They are unconcerned with whether the oppressed are dead or not”
Upon the question, “For centuries, African countries were exploited by both the British and the French. Today, remnants of that exploitation persist. You have put forward a win-win proposal. You are the first and only leader in that region to do so. How is your proposal considered across the African continent?” President Erdoğan said that the countries in the African continent attached great importance to that proposal. President Erdoğan stated the following:
“Because during their visits to the continent, the other presidents did not make that proposal. They took a heavy toll on them. They do not know how to share and win together as we do. Could such a thing be conceivable in a capitalist mentality? It is especially improbable under contemporary capitalism. They are capitalism’s deadly offspring. They followed through on their obligations in line with whatever contemporary capitalism taught them. They left nothing. They would come here by helicopters, land where those quarries were, extract gold, diamonds, silver, and everything else you can think of, and transport them to their own countries. They are unconcerned with whether the oppressed there are dead or not. All they are concerned with is the underground wealth. They did not leave that wealth there anyway. They took it to their own countries.”
Upon the question, “The French media and political establishment understand very well what your interest in Africa means. But unfortunately, statements such as ‘What are we doing in Africa’ were made in our country. While the French have seriously agreed on the importance of this matter, some in our country are unfortunately trying to discredit it. What are your thoughts on this?” President Erdoğan replied, “Africa is acutely aware of and understands this at the moment. ‘Your arrival here is now also pending the West’s relations with Africa,’ they say. The African are content with this. The point is that we must now awaken and initiate Africa. Inshallah, the investments of our businessmen there will truly awaken Africa.”
“FETO has started to collapse in Africa”
Being asked, “FETO, together with DEASH and Boko Haram, were included in an international text as a terrorist organization for the first time in Africa at the end of the quadrilateral summit you held in Togo. Could you evaluate both this and the importance of our presence in Africa for the fight against FETO?” President Erdoğan replied as follows:
“Indeed, FETO has started to collapse in Africa. Currently, a significant number of schools have been handed over to the Turkish Maarif Foundation. Turkish Maarif Foundation took over 216 FETO-affiliated schools in 19 countries. It is now only active in Nigeria. Of course, we also discussed this issue in our meeting with the President of Nigeria, Mr Buhari. But thanks to Allah, there were transfers to the Turkish Maarif Foundation in many African countries. Those transfers to the Maarif Foundation already point to the collapse of FETO there. This continues rapidly. FETO has started to collapse gradually in South Africa as well.”
Stating that the slogan "A fairer world is possible", uttered by President Erdoğan to draw attention to the unjust functioning in the UN, has elicited a strong response from the African and Middle Eastern people and governments, a journalist said, "France is seriously disturbed by this. It has been in a serious political crisis for a while, especially with Algeria. Because of this, Macron claimed that Türkiye was inciting the Algerian people and state. Then there was a significant arms sale to Greece. Finally, we also saw that Lafarge, in an anti-Türkiye move, supported terrorist organisations that Türkiye had been fighting." In response to the question, "How do you view France's anti-Türkiye stance?" President Erdoğan recalled that France was in the grip of a serious crisis under President Emmanuel Macron.
President Erdoğan continued as follows:
"This administration is the most unfortunate administration in the recent history of France. I met Sarkozy and Chirac in France, and it was unlike anything I'd ever experienced with any of them. Chirac was a statesman. He kept his word, that's how he looked at it. It's quite interesting, for example, at the EU Summit, three men, Chirac, Schröder, and Berlusconi, did not slam Türkiye. Türkiye was present at all of the EU Summits at the time. The attitude towards the invitation shifted after Sarkozy and my dear friend Merkel arrived. Of course, this had a negative impact on our accession process to the European Union. These people have a different perspective on Türkiye. They know that if they pave the way for Türkiye, Türkiye will leap. Do they want Türkiye to leap forward, or do they even want to accept this? We currently continue our journey entirely with our own means. Look, the European Court of Human Rights has made a decision. They almost want to condemn Türkiye here regarding this Soros remnant called Kavala. Why would ten ambassadors make such a statement? Those who support this Soros remnant are pondering, 'What can we do to get him out?' I told our Foreign Minister that we could not host them in our country. Is it your place to teach Türkiye such a lesson? Who do you think you are? They want us to release Kavala. Do you release your own country's criminals, killers, and terrorists? Which country, America or Germany, has ever done such a thing? They didn't, and they don't. When they speak, they will say, 'our judiciary is independent.' So, your judiciary is independent, but our judiciary is dependent? Our judiciary exemplifies the highest level of independence."
Reminding that in return for Türkiye's receivable for $1.4 billion due to the F-35s, an offer has been made by the United States for the purchase of F-16s and the modernisation of the existing ones, adding, "The US State Department was contacted about this situation, but they did not deny or confirm it. They're using a delaying tactic once more. Will the United States not give up on this?" President Erdoğan answered the question by saying that there were currently talks at a low level.
President Erdoğan stated: "But, one way or another, we will get our 1 billion 400 million dollars back. All of these are on the table. These discussions are currently taking place between our defence ministers. Our Minister of National Defence will soon meet with the United States' Secretary of Defence. I am optimistic that we will make progress. Of course, we will address this with President Biden during the G20 Rome Summit. We will ask, 'What will be our next course of action?'. We will not allow Türkiye's rights to be entrenched in any way."
"There is no room for compromise over Syria"
When asked about his thoughts on the operation against terrorist groups in Syria, President Erdoğan said, "Currently, our operations continue to focus on the region's most vital areas. There is no room for compromise. This process is ongoing in Syria. As of today, I am unsure how the regime will react, but we continue to do everything possible to oppose this approach, particularly in Idlib, and counter with all our heavy weaponry. We cannot simply go with the flow on this issue."
When asked about the details of his visit to Azerbaijan on October 26, President Erdoğan went on to say, "Although Baku is not on the agenda, we will, inshallah, inaugurate the (Fuzuli International) Airport. We also discussed this with my brother, Ilham Aliyev. As part of that day's schedule, we will, inshallah, attend the inauguration of several nearby highways, as well as some agriculture-related projects. Our determination to open the Zangezur corridor remains unchanged. By the way, we provided and continue to provide Azerbaijan with minesweepers. They were greatly admired, and these vehicles were extremely effective at sweeping mines. We presented Togo and Burkina Faso with two each, and they were also very glad."
"I believe that Iran's new administration will not repeat this misstep"
Upon the question, "Iran makes reference to the Azerbaijani government's relations with Israel. After Türkiye establishes itself as a permanent and active actor in the Caucasus, would Iran's actions mean anything and escalate into a hot crisis?" after being reminded that there was a military mobilisation on Iran's Nakhchivan and South Caucasus borders, President Erdoğan replied, "Personally, I have no such expectation. Due to Israel's relations with Azerbaijan, Iran will not be hostile to Azerbaijan or put Azerbaijan on the target list because the Azerbaijani population in Iran is noticeable today. This, of course, gets them to contemplate the situation. It is not that simple. What has been done thus far is inappropriate, and I believe that Iran's new administration will not repeat this misstep."
When asked, "What occurred or what was discussed that precipitated the creation of that memorable image?" after being reminded that the pleasant moments of the four-way conversation with the leaders of Togo, Burkina Faso, and Liberia were captured on camera during the meeting, President Erdoğan expressed the following:
"President Weah of Liberia is a former football player. He entered politics following his football career. He expresses a strong affinity for Galatasaray. He played for a number of prestigious football clubs, including Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Marseille. Additionally, he was awarded the player of the year. He also won the Ballon d'Or, which Ronaldo also has. Of course, he was compensated handsomely for the transfers. It was a pleasant conversation during which we smiled over a joke we made about it."