ACCRA (Reuters) - Turkey stands ready to help fight the growing threat of terrorism in west Africa under a new strategic partnership that aims to boost trade and other ties with the continent, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
Addressing members of Ghana’s parliament during a two-day visit to Accra, Erdogan said Turkey was well placed to help African countries combat terrorism, an allusion to its decades-long fight against Kurdish separatist rebels as well as other groups including Islamist militants.
“Turkey has a vast experience in combating terrorism and we understand those countries suffering at the hands of terrorism best,” he said, citing recent attacks by Islamic militants in Mali and Burkina Faso.
At least 28 people from 12 countries were killed in January when Islamist jihadists attacked a hotel and a restaurant in the Burkina Faso capital, Ouagadougou. The attacks followed a similar raid on a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako in November which left 20 dead.
Erdogan said developing countries, including in Africa, needed to push harder for reforms of the United Nations Security Council to make it more responsive to their needs in times of crisis, adding that the body as currently constituted only served the interests of a few “elite” countries.
The Security Council’s five permanent members are the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.
“The Security Council of the United Nations is not active in Syria, in northern Africa, or northern Iraq ... and its failure to interfere in troubled countries should be of concern to all and that’s why we need to push for reforms in the Council,” he said.
Erdogan, accompanied by some 150 Turkish businesspeople, is keen to open up new markets for his country’s exporters, to seek new investment opportunities in fast-growing African economies and boost Ankara’s diplomatic profile on the global stage.
Turkey is set to significantly expand its trade with Africa, Erdogan said, though he gave no figures. His tour of west Africa also includes Ivory Coast, Guinea and Nigeria.
Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Gareth Jones