UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH, GAMBIAN PRESIDENTS
By Nilay Kar Onum
Turkish president on Wednesday warned African countries against the threat of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey. “The sooner our African friends take measures against the organization, it will be better for themselves, their children and their future,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a joint news conference with his Gambian counterpart Adama Barrow.
“This structure [FETO] -- which does not hesitate to shed blood for their benefits -- is a big threat not only for Turkey but also for all the countries, where it exists," he said.
Erdogan praised Gambia for its support to Turkey in its fight against the terror group. “Gambia is one of our friends, who have extended the most determined support in our fight against FETO."
“Gambia has been the first country in the African continent, which closed FETO schools,” he said and thanked Gambian government and people for taking such a step. To date, around 30 African countries have handed over FETO schools to the Maarif Foundation -- which Turkey established to assume the administration of FETO-linked overseas schools -- or closed them down at Ankara's request.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured. Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
- Bilateral ties
Stating that Turkey declared 2005 as the year for Africa, Erdogan said: “From that day to today, our relations with Africa have been strengthening.”
Since 2004, Erdogan has paid official visits to 24 African countries accompanied by ministers, bureaucrats and businessmen, and spearheaded the signing of many bilateral pacts between Turkey and African countries.
Turkey currently has 41 embassies in African countries, up from only 12 in 2009. There are 33 African embassies in Ankara. Turkey aims to open embassies in all 54 African countries.
“Turkey has been a voice for Africa at many international platforms and will continue to be like this,” he said, adding that along with humanitarian aid Ankara supports social development projects in the continent.
Since 2009, Turkey has provided the African Union an annual support of $1 million.
Barrow said: “Turkey has always been an example to the world and will continue to be so.”
He praised Turkey’s leadership in the international arena saying: “You have always been a leading country in diplomacy.”
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