By Bahattin Gonultas,
N’DJAMENA, Chad : On a landmark visit to Chad, the Turkish president said Tuesday that Turkey never viewed Africa like the colonizers did, and never would.
Speaking at the Chad-Turkey Business Forum in the capital N’djamena, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said:
“We never viewed Africa like the colonists who came to this land …
“Our relations on the African continent are based on mutual respect, love, the win-win principle. We are trying to develop our relationships with an understanding that wants to develop together, manage together, enrich together.”
Erdogan called for boosting bilateral trade with Chad, calling on Turkish investors to invest more in the central African nation.
“Turkey has 80 million people and Chad has 15 million. This means our two brotherly countries have 95 million people.
“The current trade volume is not enough. We need to increase our trade,” he added.
Erdogan said that on Tuesday the countries signed a total of seven agreements on cooperation on development and technology, investment protection, mining, energy, diplomatic archives, and avoiding double taxation.
Chad plays a critical role in Turkey’s Africa policy, he said.
The president said Turkey will stand together with Chad against terrorism, adding, “Turkey never let Chad be a victim of terrorism.”
Erdogan urged Turkish investors to get more involved in public-private partnership projects in Chad.
Erdogan arrived in the central African nation on Tuesday for a one-day visit — the first by a Turkish president — aimed at deepening ties between the two countries.
The Turkish president’s visit to Chad is the second stop on a three-nation African tour, starting with Sudan and ending with Tunisia.
Erdogan is being accompanied by a large delegation, including Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, National Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz, Agriculture Minister Ahmet Esref Fakibaba, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus, Transport, Maritime Affairs, and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and a delegation of some 150 Turkish businesspeople.
Chad presents opportunities for Turkish investors in construction, agriculture, food processing and storage, animal products processing, textiles, machinery and energy, according to Turkey’s Economy Ministry.
Chad also has rich gold, uranium, and oil reserves.
Turkey’s imports from Chad in the first 10 months of 2017 totaled $26.9 million, while exports stood at $14.9 million, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
*Sena Guler contributed to this story from Ankara.