Turkish foreign minister says Turkey ready to increase presence in Africa

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu said that the Turkish diplomatic presence will be increased across Africa, Sputnik Turkish reported on Monday. 

Çavuşoğlu made the remarks as part of the African Regional Review meeting "From Istanbul to Doha - Towards a New Decade Partnership for LDCs", part of the 5th conference of the United Nations (UN) Least Developed Countries (LDCs). 

"The African continent, where 33 LDCs are located, needs a solid leadership and the support of development partners." Çavuşoğlu said, stressing Africa’s need for increased support due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Turkey's presence in Africa has steadily grown under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The number of embassies since 2002 increased from 12 to 42 and overall trade volume was $26.2 billion as of 2019. Turkey also assisted several African countries through the supply of COVID-19 masks and other protective equipment. 

Turkey has used its relationships in Africa consistently as a means to convince nations to end the presence of educational organisations associated with the Gulen movement. The Turkish government accuses the Gulenists, a religious group led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, of being behind the 2016 failed coup against Erdoğan.