Gen Jeje Odongo: Uganda eager to continue growing cooperation with Turkey

Uganda’s Foreign affairs Minister Jeje Odongo on Sunday morning held talks his Turkish Counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as both move to bolster bilateral cooperation

Uganda’s Foreign affairs Minister Jeje Odongo on Sunday morning held talks and his Turkish Counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu as both move to bolster bilateral cooperation

Uganda places great value on its relationship with Turkey and would like to see the cooperation growing, Jeje Odongo, the foreign minister said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Jeje Odongo said, “The relationship between Uganda and Turkey is relatively a long-time relationship, we value that it, and we’d like to continue to see it grow.”

He underlined that the countries cooperate in many areas, including the field of security and defense.

“Our military officers and police officers have benefited from training and equipment,” he said, noting that the level of involvement of Turkish companies in the country has grown over time.

“We know that quite a number of them are involved in construction, manufacturing and the provision of services like medical and education,” he said and added that Uganda is looking forward to attracting more Turkish companies and businesses to invest in other areas along with the existing fields of cooperation that include education, infrastructure development, and medicine.

“I can, in short, say that the relationship between Uganda and Turkey is growing,” he said and added that bringing more Turkish investment and businesses to Africa, particularly to Uganda, is in his interest.

Odongo also commented on Turkey’s Africa policy and said that they welcome Ankara’s initiatives in the continent.

Underlining that: “Turkey is a great country and has a large economy,” the minister said that it should take advantage of the unification of the market of Africa through the continental free trade area.

Highlighting examples of Somalia and other regions where security requires intervention and support, he emphasized Turkey’s initiatives that are helping in bringing peace to Africa.

Odongo also said that Uganda plays a significant role in the fight against regional terrorism and has been actively participating in regional initiatives through this aim.

Through these activities, Uganda has gained great experience and can share it and develop it further in cooperation with Turkey, he said expressing the need for further collaboration.

Uganda’s Foreign Minister Jeje Odongo speaks during a panel at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Antalya, Turkey, March 12, 2022 (PHOTO/Courtesy)

“In short, we welcome the involvement of Turkey and look forward to working very closely with Turkey,” he said.

Turkey’s engagement with the African continent has been gaining pace over the years. Ankara has been stressing the desire to advance relations with the continent on the basis of a win-win relationship and equal partnership while observing mutual respect. Both sides have been vowing to tap into their greater potential when it comes to further expanding and deepening relations.

To this effect, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased from just 12 in 2002 to 43 in 2021. Turkey’s trade with Africa totaled $5.4 billion (TL 80 billion) in 2003, which climbed to $25.3 billion by 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Turkey’s influence also covers the realm of defense, with Ankara inaugurating its first African military base in 2017 in Somalia.

The Turkish Embassy in Kampala and the Ugandan Embassy in Ankara were inaugurated in 2010. Relations between Turkey and Uganda are developing steadily as a result of high-level visits between the two countries and the willingness of both countries to work together. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Uganda on May 31-June 1, 2016. This visit was the first presidential visit to Uganda from Turkey and served to bolster the ties between the two countries.

UN reform

Odongo also criticized the existing global governance system, specifically the structure of the United Nations Security Council.

“If we are talking about democracy, then there should be democracy everywhere, including the U.N.,” he said.

He underlined the fact that nearly 1.5 million African people have no voice in the Security Council while Europeans with a much lesser population have two representatives among five permanent members of the council.

“Is that democracy? Is that fair?” he asked.

He said that Uganda and Africa support the view for a fairer and more democratic global system.

Odongo called for “legitimate arrangements,” underlining the need for corrections for democracy and justice in the existing system.

Turkey in recent years has repeatedly criticized the lack of representation at the U.N., saying that such an unjust system is no longer sustainable.

In order to make the U.N. system active again, the council must be reformed, Ankara has highlighted.

Odongo also expressed his happiness and excitement on having participated in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum and said that it offered a platform to understand the international system more.

The three-day high-level forum in the resort city of Antalya has brought together participants from 75 countries, including 17 heads of state, 80 government ministers, and 39 representatives of international organizations.

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