Turkish envoy hails strong relations with South Africa

Turkish president to attend BRICS summit in South Africa

Turkey’s ambassador to South Africa praised brotherly relations between the two countries, ahead of BRICS summit which will be attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Turkey and South Africa go back a long way ,” Elif Comoglu Ulgen said, in an exclusive interview to Anadolu Agency.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa invited Erdogan at the summit as the term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

BRICS is a grouping of five countries including, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

“By joining the summit our president will convey our views to other leaders and will have the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with leaders of BRICS member countries,” she said.

Ulgen recalled that the two countries opened embassies in their capitals in 1993 and 1994 through a mutual agreement.

“Our bilateral trade volume is $2.5 billion. We buy minerals from South Africa. But there is a lot of untapped business potential. More needs to be done by South Africa.”

Ulgen pointed out that the internal dynamics of South Africa are well known and so patience and care should be exercised when trading in the country.

“Turkey invested in two companies in South Africa; appliance manufacturers and distributors Defy and Capetown Iron and Steel Works Company (Cisco).

“For better representation in South Africa, Turkey opened institutions such as TIKA, Yunus Emre Institute, Maarif foundation.”

 ‘South Africa similar to Anatolia’

Ulgen said that South Africa’s relations with Turkey go way back to Ottoman era.

Renowned Ottoman scholar Abu Bakr Effendi was sent to Cape of Good Hope in 1862 during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz.

His traditions are still being followed by Muslims in South Africa.

She said South Africa resembles Turkey’s Anatolian region in many ways.

“South Africa is similar to Anatolia. It has fertile soil like Anatolia and its climate is very beautiful. At the same time in terms of human history, it is a geography that has witnessed great pain,” she said.

Ulgen said South Africans perceive Turkey positively.

“South Africans take great pleasure in spending their holidays in Turkey,” she said, adding that there is also a great interest in Turkish textile and cuisine.