World Bulletin / News Desk
“I see this building as a sign of the value our country places on relations with the Republic of South Africa,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the inauguration of a new Turkish Embassy building in South Africa’s capital Pretoria.
“Today we usher in this new building, giving us the opportunity to provide better service with physical conditions worthy of the Republic of Turkey,” Erdogan said.
Turkey and South Africa first opened embassies in each other’s capitals in the post-apartheid era, in 1993 and 1994, through a mutual agreement.
Erdogan arrived in South Africa on Wednesday as guest of the annual summit of BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
He added that Turkey is working to strengthen its diplomatic representations abroad.
“We're working to increase the number, capacity, and representation ability of our missions in African countries,” he said.
Erdogan also said that his government has long encouraged and supported non-governmental organizations and businesspeople in their efforts to forge ties with Africa.
Mentioning Turkey’s efforts to help least-developed countries, Erdogan said it ranks first in the world with $8.2 billion in annual aid.
-Guard against FETO
Erdogan also slammed terrorist groups, saying that they are all the same.
“In our eyes, there is no difference between terrorist organizations,” he said, adding that Daesh is the same as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the PKK, Boko Haram, and al-Shabaab.
Erdogan also warned the country of the threat of FETO -- the group behind a defeated coup in Turkey in 2016 -- as South Africa is one of the countries where the terror group is most active.
He added that Turkey would not allow the terror group to make South Africa into a base.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
FETO has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private schools that serve as a revenue stream for the terrorist group.
Also speaking at the inauguration ceremony ahead of Erdogan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey aims to have 50 embassies across the African continent.
“We must be in every part of the world to do justice to our trade and our mission on international platforms and organizations,” Cavusoglu said.
“Today, we have 241 missions in every continent across the world. We have 41 embassies in Africa. Our aim is to raise this number to 50.”