Erdogan vows not to 'give up' in face of terrorism in Somalia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Sunday not to give up in the face of terrorist groups in the war-torn Somalia, Anadolu Agency reported.
"We will fulfill our humane, conscientious, Islamic duties," Erdogan said, during a joint press conference with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, following a head to head meeting.
Erdogan, who began his Africa tour on Jan. 21, planned to visit Somalia on Friday, but postponed the visit after the death of Saudi King Abdullah.
On Jan. 22, the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab terrorist group attacked the hotel where the Turkish delegation was making last preparations ahead of Erdogan's visit in Somalia, killing four people -- including the attacker.
Turkish interests in Somalia have been repeatedly targeted by terror attacks by Al-Shabab. Erdogan thanked the Turkish nationals serving and working in Somalia despite the threats.
The Turkish embassy in Somalia was attacked by terrorist groups in July 2013, killing a Turkish serviceman.
The Turkish president had visited Mogadishu for the last time three and a half years ago while serving as Turkey's prime minister.
Despite having close historical and cultural ties, Turkey's engagement in Somalia accelerated following the visit of then Prime Minister Erdogan in August 2011, the Turkish Foreign Ministry says. It says that this visit was followed by a nationwide campaign collecting around $300-million worth of donations for war-torn Somalia.
The ministry says that since 2011, the Turkish public, private and civil society sectors have begun to engage widely with Somalia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended Sunday the official opening of a 200-bed Somalia-Turkey Training and Research Hospital in capital Mogadishu.
Erdogan said Turkey would build houses in Somalia for the country's low income groups.
"We said: let's start construction of residential buildings," said Erdogan. "But first let's make a city plan and in the first step let's build 10,000 homes, thereby changing the city's appearance."
The president said he believed the residential buildings would be ready within a year or two.
Erdogan said that the works on the new building of Turkey's Embassy, which will cover 10,000 square meters in a 80,000-square meter area, were in progress. The new building is planned to be "one of the biggest Turkish embassies in the world."
Erdogan also noted the modernization of the Port of Mogadishu, which is being conducted by a Turkish company, the Albayrak Group.
"Mogadishu's port is in a very strategic place and constitutes an important source of income for the Somali government," Erdogan said.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said relations between Somalia and Turkey had intensified and thanked President Erdogan for his visit and support.
"Relations between Somalia and Turkey are not new; we have had ongoing ties since the Ottoman empire period," said Mohamud, emphasizing that the relations between the two countries strengthened both countries.
Somalia's president noted that his country has changed since President Erdogan's visit three and half ago. "Somalia has become a different country," he said.
"We thanked Erdogan, when he was here as prime minister and it is important for us to thank him once more," said Mohamud.
He also pointed out the signing of strategic partnerships in various fields, saying that they were not short-term, but would continue to be part of "a long-term partnership."
With an estimated more than 10 million population, Somali, for decades have remained a war-torn country, with devastation causing several famines.
The African Union says that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of the Republic of Somalia, established in 2004 and internationally recognized, is the most recent attempt to restore national institutions to Somalia, with several factions, including al-Shabaab, regrouped to continue their insurgency.
An African Union (AU) peacekeeping force continues to serve in the country and acts as the protector of the Transitional Federal Government.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was accompanied in the visit by his wife and daughter, Emine and Sumeyye Erdogan, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, Science and Industry Minister Fikri Isik, and Forestry and Water Minister Veysel Eroglu.