President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thanked the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for supporting Turkey’s fight against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Erdoğan was welcomed in an official ceremony in the capital Kinshasa, on the first leg of his four-day Africa tour on Sunday. He was speaking at a joint news conference with his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi.
Erdoğan noted the sides’ solidarity on security and fight against terrorism, saying: “I thank President Tshisekedi and the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for their support in our fight against the FETÖ terrorist organization.”
“We will continue to stand with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in its fight against terrorism. I also would like to offer my condolences for your citizens who lost their lives in the terrorist attack that took place in Ituri on Feb. 1,” he added.
For his part, Tshisekedi said Erdoğan’s visit to his country had tremendous meaning for the future of the Central African country.
Noting that Turkey would help train Congolese forces and share its experience in the fight against terror, he said cooperation in health, infrastructure, transportation, and other promising sectors, would also be pursued.
“The priority area is security, increasing the capacity in the fight against terrorist groups as well as armed groups,” he said.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the failed coup attempt in Turkey which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
FETÖ was also behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Members of the terrorist group disguise themselves as businesspeople running schools, media outlets or charity groups across the world.
FETÖ also has a presence in Afrıca, where it runs schools, which serve as cash cows for the terror group. Turkey has replaced the administration of such schools.
The Maarif Foundation is tasked with boosting Turkey’s presence in the education sector abroad as well as taking over schools linked to the terrorist group. The foundation was established after the July 2016 coup attempt to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to FETÖ. It also establishes schools and education centers abroad.
Still, despite the efforts of Turkey and the Maarif Foundation, while steps have been taken, the FETÖ threat is far from disappearing in some African countries.
The DRC faces insecurity in its eastern region due to the presence of dozens of armed groups that regularly threaten civilians.
Military operations are underway against these groups, which include the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Daesh’s branch in Central Africa blamed for thousands of killings in the eastern DRC.
“Win-win” security and economic deals were reached during Erdoğan’s “historic” official visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the African country’s leader also said on Sunday.
Tshisekedi said the DRC and Turkey reached “win-win” cooperation agreements on security, infrastructure, health and transport, hailing a “historic day” for relations between the nations after speaking with Erdoğan.
The two leaders signed seven agreements on security, the economy, and industry.
Erdoğan underlined that with the communique, action plan, and joint implementation report adopted during the third Turkey-Africa Summit in December provided a “roadmap in our relations with Africa for 2022-2026.”
“We will continue to enhance our relations with African countries on the basis of sincerity, brotherhood and solidarity within this framework,” he added. “During our talks today, we have reviewed in detail our bilateral relations and cooperation opportunities. We have mutually reaffirmed our will to improve our bilateral cooperation.”
Pointing out the strengthening economic and trade relations between Turkey and the DRC, Erdoğan said: “We have nearly doubled our bilateral trade volume, which was $36.5 million in 2018 before the pandemic. We are advancing towards our trade goal of $250 million.”
Erdoğan also underlined Turkey encourages “Turkish businesspeople to boost their investments,” in the DRC.
Erdoğan also delivered 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines during the visit, pledging to donate 1.1 million more jabs.
“I brought along 100,000 doses of vaccines with me (to the DRC),” Erdoğan said.
“Our Health Ministry will send 1 million doses of Sinovac and 100,000 doses of the Turkovac vaccine,” Turkey’s locally manufactured COVID-19 jab, Erdoğan added.
Sinovac vaccines are produced by the Chines biopharmaceutical firm of the same name.
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) continues its support for the development efforts of the DRC, Erdoğan said.
“The TİKA is conducting various projects, including vocational training, healthcare, support for administrative and social infrastructure and school renewal,” he said, vowing that Ankara would continue to stand with the DRC in its development efforts.
In September, Tshisekedi paid an official visit to Ankara on the theme of economic cooperation and traveled to Istanbul in December where he took part in a Turkey-Africa summit.
Relations between Ankara and Kinshasa have been good for several years and the volume of Turkish investments in the DRC continues to grow.
Bilateral trade between the two amounts to about $40 million, but Turkey is seeking to strengthen its presence in Africa.
Since 2003, the volume of its trade with the continent has increased from $2 billion to at least $25 billion.
Erdoğan has visited Africa nearly 40 times since 2005, as prime minister and president, since when Turkey has opened some 40 embassies on the continent.
Turkey’s influence covers the realm of defense with Ankara inaugurating its first African military base in 2017 in Somalia.
Erdoğan was initially welcomed in the Kinshasa International Airport in the capital by senior Congolese officials, including Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’Apala and Turkey’s Ambassador in Kinshasa Murat Ülkü.
After departing from the airport, Erdoğan was welcomed with an official ceremony by his Congolese counterpart Tshisekedi at the presidential palace.
Erdoğan is accompanied by senior Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın and head of Defense Industries Presidency Ismail Demir.
After the DRC, Erdoğan is scheduled to visit the West African countries of Senegal and Guinea-Bissau.
The four-day Africa tour is expected to focus on all aspects of bilateral relations and opportunities for improving cooperation between Turkey and these countries in all fields.
During his visit to the Senegalese capital Dakar, Erdoğan will attend the opening ceremony of the Dakar Olympic Stadium built by a Turkish company. He will also inaugurate Turkey’s new embassy building.
Erdoğan’s visit to Guinea-Bissau will mark the first presidential visit from Turkey to the West African country.