Erdogan uses carrot-and-stick tactics on Africa visit
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.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inspects an honour guard in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.