Nov 27, 2013, 9:58 AM
Ambassador Soner was speaking on Thursday at a reception held at the Ocean Bay Hotel marking the 92nd anniversary of the proclamation of Turkey as a Republic.
The reception was attended by staff of the Turkish Embassy, members of the Turkish community in The Gambia, Gambia government officials, members of the diplomatic and consular corps, among other dignitaries.
“I am proud to share that Turkey is a true friend in Africa and that the Gambian people are brothers and sisters of the Turkish nation,” Ambassador Soner said.
“Turkey has been and will always be trans-continental brother of the Gambian people.”
He said that after 92 years, Turkey is a democratic, modern and prosperous country, which upholds the principles of respect for human and social rights, democracy, secularism, pluralism, rule of law and an open economy.
He added that the relations with Africa constitute a prime orientation of Turkish foreign policy.
“Ataturk’s motto: ‘peace at home, peace in the world’ is also reflected on the Turkish’s policy of partnership with Africa, which is based on reinforcing mutual gains and joint economic interest in bilateral relations,” he said.
“In this context, our approach to Africa is one of equal partnership, and is best captured in the African proverb which says: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together’,” he stated, adding:“For Turkey, relations with Africa remain a key priority.”
Ambassador Soner said further that Turkey and The Gambia have friendly and brotherly relations, based on a long and deep-rooted past, especially with the recent mutual opening of embassies in Banjul and Ankara.
The relations between Turkey and The Gambia keep on growing, progressing and diversifying in all spheres on the basis of friendship and brotherhood between the two countries, he added.
Since the opening of the Turkish embassy in Banjul 3 to 5 years ago, he noted, Turkish’s government has been actively involved in the capacity building of Gambian institutions and has been providing aid in kind.
He said: “InMay and August, a delegation which included experts from the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), Turkish University of Yildirim Beyazit (YBU), Turkish Premier’s office’s agency of related communities and Istanbul office of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) visited The Gambia two times, for the meetings with the Gambian authorities within the framework of a project for the capacity development of the Faculty of Medicine and allied health sciences of the University of The Gambia.”
He disclosed that Turkey is planning to establish a blood-transfusion centre in The Gambia to contribute to the continuous availability of safe and quality blood in health facilities, which would help drop infant mortality rates, improve maternal health and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Speaking on behalf of the Gambia government, Dr Abubacarr Senghore, Minister of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology, said Turkey is a genuine and close friend of The Gambia.
Since independence in 1965, he noted, The Gambia had enjoyed a close relationship with the Republic of Turkey.
“We have been together supporting each other for quite a long time in series of development and, most importantly, in the international sphere,” said Minister Senghore.
He said further that The Gambia had stood beside Turkey and Turkey had also stood beside The Gambia, and “Turkey looks forward to the continuity of the relationship”.
He said Turkey has supported the government in various areas, including in training of the police, administrators, civil servants, diplomats as well as in the area of conventional or formal education.
He also said Gambian students have continued to benefit from various Turkish interventions in the form of scholarships in many areas.
The minister said the two countries have continued to work together to increase the volume of trade between Banjul and Ankara, as both countries continue to enjoy closer trade relationships between them.
“The Gambia appreciated and will continue to appreciate you,” said Dr Senghore, who on behalf of the government and people of The Gambia congratulated Turkey on their “great day”.