Er­do­gan uses car­rot-and-stick tac­tics on Africa visit

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - STAFF RE­PORTER

TURK­ISH Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan has con­cluded a four-day visit to Tan­za­nia, Mozam­bique and Mada­gas­car seek­ing to im­prove busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions.

Er­do­gan promised the Tan­za­nian gov­ern­ment a loan from Tur­key’s Ex­im­bank for the con­struc­tion of a 400km rail­way line in re­turn for ac­tion against Hizmet move­ment schools and Turk­ish busi­ness­men iden­ti­fied as sup­port­ing the move­ment, said Habib Mi­radji, a lo­cal re­porter.

How­ever, Tan­za­nia re­sponded with cau­tion.

In Mozam­bique, Er­do­gan also ex­pressed his con­cern about Hizmet schools to Mozam­bi­can leader Filipe Nyusi. He also ref­er­enced the coun­try’s ex­pe­ri­ence of colo­nial­ism.

“We know how the West ex­ploited Mozam­bique’s nat­u­ral re­sources for cen­turies,” Er­do­gan said.

The two coun­tries signed six agree­ments on en­ergy, con­struc­tion, diplo­macy and agri­cul­ture.

Er­do­gan’s ar­rival in Mada­gas­car came amid ris­ing ten­sion be­tween the two coun­tries af­ter the lo­cal press claimed that one of the many Syr­ian refugees who had re­cently ar­rived in Mada­gas­car aboard Turk­ish Air­lines flights had been ar­rested for try­ing to smug­gle in a large quan­tity of gold.

In ad­di­tion, Hasan Ucar, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of Rav­imed­i­cal, a Mala­gasy in­sti­tute in­spired by Fethul­lah Gulen, whom Er­do­gan has ac­cused of or­ches­trat­ing the failed coup against his gov­ern­ment last July, gave warn­ing of the Turk­ish premier’s in­ten­tions.

He said Er­do­gan would seek to force the gov­ern­ment to shut down Turk­ish schools.

Lo­cal me­dia fur­ther claimed that Euro­pean bod­ies had warned Mada­gas­car’s Pres­i­dent Hery Ra­jaonari­mampianina that they would cut fund­ing if he es­tab­lished close re­la­tions with Er­do­gan.

Ac­cord­ing to the Turk­ish For­eign Min­istry, Turk­ish-Mala­gasy trade in 2015 was worth $60mil­lion, with Turk­ish ex­ports from Mada­gas­car ac­count­ing for the lion’s share about $54m.

Er­do­gan’s at­tempts to use eco­nomic lever­age over African coun­tries by of­fer­ing gen­er­ous credit terms are un­der­mined by the present weak­ness of the Turk­ish lira against the dol­lar.

Mean­while, the EU has warned Ankara it may sus­pend ne­go­ti­a­tions to join the bloc due to con­cerns over the ex­tent of the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment’s cur­rent state of emer­gency, un­der which more than 120 000 pub­lic ser­vants have been fired and more than 40000 peo­ple ar­rested.

Some of the Mala­gasy me­dia ar­gued that build­ing close re­la­tions with Er­do­gan’s regime would not ben­e­fit Mada­gas­car.

PIC­TURE: EPA

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan in­spects an hon­our guard in Dar es Salaam, Tan­za­nia.

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