President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday received a call from his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the occasion of this year’s Eid-El-Fitr celebrations.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, disclosed this via a statement, saying that both leaders spoke on issues bordering on military cooperation, bilateral ties as well as global interests.
“During their phone call which was initiated by the Turkish leader, Presidents Buhari and Erdogan also covered a range of issues pertaining to the ongoing discussions between the two countries on the supply and local manufacture of military equipment as well as matters of strategic cooperation,” the statement read.
“President Buhari used the opportunity to especially thank his Turkish counterpart for his commitment and support to Nigeria in the ongoing war against terrorism.”
President Buhari also received Eid greetings from former Nigerian Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who congratulated him on witnessing the Sallah following 30 days of fasting. Gowon prayed for peace, unity, and progress in the country.
Turkey will send 15 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Africa, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday at a major summit of the continent’s leaders, adding that the low vaccination rates there was a blot on humanity.
Ankara has invested heavily in developing trade and diplomatic ties with the world’s poorest continent during Erdogan’s rule as prime minister and then president since 2003.
Speaking to dozens of attending leaders and ministers, Erdogan said Turkey would ship 15 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Africa, where cases are rapidly rising and vaccination rates are low.
“We are aware of the global injustice in accessing the Covid-19 vaccine and Africa’s unjust treatment,” Erdogan said.
“It is disgraceful for humanity that only six percent of Africa’s population has been vaccinated.”
Turkey is developing its own vaccine, known as Turkovac, which is in the process of receiving emergency use approval.
Following any authorisation, it will be shared with Africa, Erdogan said.
It was not immediately clear from his remarks whether Turkey would first send some doses of the internationally approved vaccines it was currently using, including those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.
“In order to contribute to the resolution of this issue, within our means, we plan to share 15 million vaccine doses in the period ahead,” he said.
Soaring infection rates
The number of new infections in Africa has shot up by 57 percent in the past week, according to AFP calculations based on official figures.
South Africa is the hardest-hit country, becoming one of the first in the world affected by the new Omicron variant, which is believed to be even more contagious than past coronavirus strains.
Erdogan said Turkey wanted to strengthen relations with Africa in a wide range of areas including health, defence, energy, agriculture and technology.
“The real potential between us goes far beyond the targets we have,” he said.
In a final declaration, Turkey and African countries agreed to strengthen cooperation in several fields, including health “through further health sector investments”.
“With the declaration, we have accepted at this summit and the joint action plan, we agreed on a road map to deepen our relations,” Erdogan told a closing media event.
Focus on trade
Trade between Turkey and Africa has grown in the past 20 years from $5.4 billion to $25.3 billion (4.8 billion euros to 22.5 billion euros) last year.
And in the first 11 months of 2021, it had reached $30 billion, Erdogan said.
Turkey has set an even higher target of trade volume for the future: $75 billion.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the third Turkish-African summit — by far the largest to date — was being attended by 16 African heads of state and 102 ministers, including 26 top diplomats.
Erdogan also held one-on-one meetings with African heads of state, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who have both expressed an interest in Turkey’s defence industry.
The next Turkey-Africa summit will be held in 2026 in an unspecified African country.
Nigeria and Turkey on Wednesday signed eight major Agreements and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) on a number of the key sectors, including Energy, Defense Industry, Mining and Hydrocarbons.
The implementation of the agreements reached are expected to commence immediately.
This was disclosed by President Muhammadu Buhari at a joint press conference on the occasion of the official visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Nigeria.
‘‘As a positive outcome, eight major Agreements/MoUs on a number of the key sectors including Energy, Defense Industry, Mining and HydroCarbons among others were signed today. We have agreed that implementation is to commence immediately,” a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted the president as saying.
President Buhari described the two-day visit of President Erdogan and the First Lady, Emine Erdogan, as a reflection of the ‘‘robust, warm and cordial bilateral relation’’ between Nigeria and Turkey.
The president further stated that President Erdogan’s meeting with a Joint Session of the Nigeria and Turkish Chambers of Commerce and Industry, before departing Nigeria, would be another opportunity to engage and exchange views on more productive ways of pushing ahead the socio-economic ties between the two countries.
Earlier, President Buhari heaped praises on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for opening his country’s borders to accommodate millions of refugees in dire need of humanitarian support.
Buhari said his Turkish counterpart has set an example for the rest of the world on how to treat refugees.
‘‘I commend Your Excellency for your leadership and generosity in receiving and accommodating 4 million refugees fleeing from conflict areas particularly in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. You have indeed set an example to the rest of the world,’’ the Nigerian leader said.
He thanked the Turkish President and the First Lady for commissioning the Turkish Cultural Centre in Abuja as well as opening the newly renovated Government Secondary School in Wuse, Abuja, undertaken by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIIKA).
In his reaction to President Buhari’s remarks, President Erdogan stressed that Turkey was determined to improve relations with Nigeria to ‘‘higher levels on all fields’’.
He said the trade volume between both countries reached 2 billion dollars in 2020, making Nigeria the outstanding and the biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
‘‘However, we still believe that this level of trade we have achieved is far from being adequate. We hope and pray that we will be expanding our trade volume up to 5 billion dollars immediately.
‘‘We hope that the relations between the two nations will be further developed on the basis of a win-win scenario and mutual respect,’’ the President, who spoke through an interpreter said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has said that members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO) that attempted to push him out of power on July 15, 2016 through a failed coup are currently in Nigeria.
Erdogan stated this on Wednesday during a joint press conference with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The Turkish leader is on a two-day working visit to Nigeria, just as he is also touring two other African countries – Togo and Angola.
“Turkey has been fighting against terrorist organisations for many decades, such as the PKK, PYD, FETO, DASH and other terrorist organisations,” President Erdogan said through an interpreter.
“The perpetrator of the heinous failed coup of July the 15th, FETO, is still illegally active in Nigeria, and we are continuously sharing our intelligence with the Nigerian interlocutors and authorities.
“I hope and pray that our Nigerian brothers will forge a closer solidarity in this field with us, the Republic of Turkey.”
He equally sought the collaboration of the Nigerian government to overcome extremism and terrorism that has become a global phenomenon.
The Turkish president also commended President Buhari for hosting him and his delegation.
He added, “The most auspicious results and I would like to thank my distinguished brother, President Buhari, for being such a gracious host for me and for my delegation.”
Erdogan arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday night and was welcomed by the Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffery Onyeama; FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, the Nigerian Ambassador to Turkey, Ismail Yusuf Abba, and the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Hidayet Bayraktar, at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
Turkish officials that accompanied Erdogan were the First Lady Emine Erdogan; Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu; Energy and Natural Resources, Minister Fatih Donmez; Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar; Trade Minister, Mehmet Mus among others.
Turkey braced on Saturday for a new spell of financial turbulence after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sacked his market-friendly central bank chief and replaced him with a former ruling party lawmaker.
A presidential decree published late on Friday gave no explanation as to why Erdogan was replacing Naci Agbal with Sahap Kavcioglu in the key post.
But the decision was announced just a day after the central bank sharply raised the main interest rate to 19 per cent to fight inflation.
Kavcioglu has written columns for a pro-government newspaper heavily criticising Agbal’s propensity to raise rates.
Analysts say the new central banker subscribes to Erdogan’s unorthodox belief that higher interest rates cause inflation.
Most economists believe it slows inflation down by raising the cost of doing business.
“The shock decision by Turkey’s President Erdogan to sack central bank governor Naci Agbal late on Friday is likely to trigger large falls in the lira when markets open on Monday,” analyst Jason Tuvey of Capital Economics wrote in a research note.
“It looks like the central bank’s efforts to fight the country’s inflation problem may come to an end, and a messy balance of payments crisis has become (once again) a real possibility,” Tuvey warned.
Agbal was appointed during an economic team overhaul that Erdogan engineered in November to halt a steep Turkish currency slide.
The lira had by then fallen to 8.5 to the dollar from 5.9 at the start of 2020 as past central bank managers kept interests rates low while inflation gathered pace.
Economists at Goldman Sachs estimated that the central bank spent more than $100 million in 2020 alone buying up foreign currencies in an attempt to support the lira.
But Turks kept stocking up on gold and exchanging liras for euros and dollars to preserve their saving.
Foreign investors fled the Turkish market and the economy appeared headed for a major crisis.
Erdogan appeared to concede defeat and embrace orthodoxy by installing Agbal at the central bank and reformists at the finance ministry in the November reshuffle.
Agbal’s term has seen the lira stabilise. It stood at around 7.3 against the dollar on Friday.
But the lira began to reverse some of its earlier gains in February and the annual inflation rate rose to 15.6 per cent due to external pressure on the Turkish economy.
Agbal’s decision to raise rates by a greater than expected 200 basis points to 19 per cent on Thursday was cheered by investors but appeared to be the last straw for Erdogan.
Kavcioglu’s Yeni Safak newspaper criticised it on its front page on Friday.
‘Paid the price’
Erdogan’s dislike of high interest rates has remained a constant in Turkish politics.
He once called it the “mother and father of all evil” and stressed again in January that he was “absolutely against” higher rates.
His new central banker Kavcioglu suggested in a February column that higher interest rates “indirectly” lead to higher inflation.
Emerging markets economist Timothy Ash called Agbal “a patriot who made the difficult but right choices in the best interests of Turkey at the right times. He has paid the price for that.”
Kavcioglu becomes the fourth central bank chief Erdogan has appointed since July 2019.
He faces the task of meeting Erdogan’s goal of bringing down the annual inflation rate down to five per cent by Turkey’s next scheduled election in 2023.
But Tuvey of Capital Economics said Agbal’s dismissal also carried political risks for Erdogan because some in the president’s ruling party were growing uneasy with his unorthodox approach to economics.
“The sacking of Governor Agbal runs the risk of splitting the party, which had already seen several major players depart in recent years,” Tuvey wrote.
President Donald Trump’s controversial coronavirus adviser resigned Monday, while hopes for a first wave of vaccinations before the end of 2020 received a further boost with an announcement from US firm Moderna.
Scott Atlas, a favored coronavirus adviser of the US president, who tweeted in October “Masks work? NO,” has submitted his resignation, effective as of December 1, Fox News reported.
Lacking relevant experience or qualifications in public health or infectious disease, he also called in November for people in Michigan to “rise up” against Covid-19 measures.
Atlas stepped down as hopes rose for a first wave of vaccinations before the end of the year after Moderna said it was filing for emergency authorization of its vaccine in the United States and Europe.
After top US scientists warned Americans to brace for a “surge superimposed on the surge,” Moderna reported full results had confirmed a high efficacy estimated at 94.1 percent.
It was set to join American pharmaceutical maker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which applied for similar approvals last week, and have predicted their vaccine could be greenlit in the US shortly after December 10.
If the US Food and Drug Administration agrees Moderna’s product is safe and effective, the first of the drug’s two doses could be injected into the arms of millions of Americans by the middle of December.
Health Secretary Alex Azar told CBS News: “We could be seeing both of these vaccines out and getting into people’s arms before Christmas.”
Co-developed with the US National Institutes of Health, the jabs were generally well tolerated, with the most common side effects including injection site pain, fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain and headache.
Moderna expects to have approximately 20 million doses of the vaccine available in the US by the end of 2020, and between 500 million to a billion doses globally in 2021.
The news came after leading US scientist Anthony Fauci voiced his fears as millions of travelers returned home after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The United States is the worst-affected country, with more than 267,000 Covid-19 deaths, and the Trump administration has issued conflicting messages on mask-wearing, travel and the danger posed by the virus.
“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Fauci said Sunday.
More than 1.4 million people have died worldwide since the outbreak in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.
The World Health Organization (WHO) insisted Monday it was doing everything possible to find the animal origins of the virus, although it hasn’t yet sent a full team of expert investigators to China.
Observers have voiced concern the agency has bowed to Chinese pressure and dragged its feet over the investigation, but WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hit back and urged critics to stop “politicizing” the issue.
At a briefing, Tedros added he was alarmed over a rapid worsening of the Covid-19 situations in Brazil and Mexico, urging them to be “very serious” about halting the spread.
Europe meanwhile is still battling to lower the daily toll of death and infection with a variety of curbs, lockdowns, and tests after fatalities topped 400,000 at the weekend.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a total weekend lockdown and a curfew for the rest of the week.
In Asia, Hong Kong on Monday announced social distancing measures at some of the strictest levels in the city since the start of the pandemic, as authorities battle a fourth wave of infections.
“This new wave of Covid-19 has hit Hong Kong very quickly,” chief executive Carrie Lam said.
Anger over rising infection numbers sparked a riot in a Sri Lankan prison where guards shot dead eight inmates and wounded at least 71 others.
However, Australia’s success against the pandemic saw international students arrive for the first time since it shut its borders in March, with a charter flight touching down in Darwin on Monday.
The situation in former global epicenter New York remains precarious, with Governor Andrew Cuomo warning small gatherings are now responsible for 65 percent of the spread.
“We are now worried about overwhelming the hospital system,” Cuomo said, warning a new lockdown could be needed.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said his state’s hospital intensive care units could be overloaded in just a couple of weeks.
Covid risk across most of the US is now considered “critical” and more than 93,000 people are hospitalized, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Scientists estimate around 70 percent of the population will need to be vaccinated to bring an end to the outbreak, and this may not be achievable until the second half of next year.
Amid signs of growing global vaccine skepticism, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies president Francesco Rocca warned Monday: “To beat this pandemic, we also have to defeat the parallel pandemic of distrust.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said the peace drive to end the conflict in Libya since 2011 should not be wasted, in a video conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
There has been increased hope since the two main warring factions separately announced in August that they would cease hostilities, which was followed by a series of UN-backed talks.
The two main factions are based around the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a parliament in the eastern city of Tobruk.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday voiced “cautious optimism” over efforts to end the conflict in Libya, after co-chairing talks with the United Nations that involved the warring Libyan sides.
Erdogan told Merkel that “the opportunity that emerged thanks to the calm sustained on the field in Libya should not be wasted,” the Turkish presidency said.
Turkey strongly backs the Tripoli government providing military support following an April 2019 offensive by rival strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.
Erdogan on Sunday expressed “full solidarity” with the GNA after a meeting in Istanbul with its head Fayez al-Sarraj.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday warned Turkey would make “no concessions” in the eastern Mediterranean and told Greece to avoid taking steps that could lead to its “ruin”.
His remarks come just hours after Athens said it would launch military exercises Wednesday with France, Italy and Cyprus in the region, where tensions between the two neighbours have escalated in recent weeks.
“In the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea, Turkey will get what is rightfully ours,” Erdogan said in the eastern province of Mus on the anniversary of the 1071 Battle of Malazgirt where pre-Ottoman tribes defeated the Byzantines.
The victory has been celebrated with increasing fervour in modern Turkey in recent years, and this year was no different with a socially-distanced audience listening to Erdogan.
“We don’t have our eye on someone else’s territory, sovereignty and interests, but we will make no concessions on that which is ours,” he said in the televised speech.
“We invite our counterparts to change their ways and avoid wrongs that will be the path to ruin,” Erdogan added in pointed remarks to NATO ally Greece.
“We want everyone to see Turkey is no longer a country whose patience, determination, means and courage will be tested. If we say we will do something, we will do it, and we will pay the price,” he said.
Greece and Turkey are already divided on significant issues including migration and Byzantine heritage in Istanbul, formerly Constantinople.
But the discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has further strained relations, with Turkey rejecting calls from the EU and Athens to immediately stop energy exploration in the region.
Turkey sent the Oruc Reis research vessel accompanied by warships to disputed waters on August 10. Its activities were meant to end on last Sunday but were extended to Thursday.
Germany has led the charge in Europe to defuse tensions, dispatching its foreign minister to Ankara and Athens on Tuesday to resolve the issue through dialogue.
Both sides said they were open to dialogue after talks with the German minister, and there will be an informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Berlin on Thursday and Friday.
Turkey will strike Syrian regime forces “everywhere” if its soldiers come under renewed attack, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Wednesday and accused Damascus ally Russia of committing “massacres” in Idlib.
“I hereby declare that we will strike regime forces everywhere from now on regardless of the Sochi deal if any tiny bit of harm comes to our soldiers at observation posts or elsewhere,” Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling party in parliament.
The latest threat comes after more than a dozen Turkish soldiers were killed in regime shelling in the northwestern province of Idlib — the last rebel bastion in Syria.
Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air strikes, have pressed ahead with an offensive to retake the province from rebel groups despite the 2018 Sochi ceasefire deal agreed between Turkey and Russia.
Recent direct clashes between Turkish soldiers and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have significantly raised the stakes, as well as heightening tensions between Moscow and Ankara, the chief foreign brokers of the conflict.
In a rare move on Wednesday, Erdogan was directly critical of Russia.
“The regime, backed by Russian forces and Iran-backed militants, are continuously attacking civilians, committing massacres and shedding blood,” he said.
He added that Turkey would do “whatever necessary” to push back regime forces behind the 12 observation posts it set up in Idlib under the Sochi deal in a bid to prevent a regime offensive.
But Syrian forces are advancing and taking town after town despite Ankara’s warnings.
“We are determined to push back (regime forces) behind the borders of the Sochi deal by the end of February,” said Erdogan.
“We will do whatever is necessary both on the ground and in the air without any hesitation and without any delay.”
The Turkish leader also said that aircraft striking settlements in Idlib would “no longer move freely”.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he would “teach a lesson” to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar if he resumed fighting after abandoning ceasefire talks in Moscow.
Haftar left Moscow on Tuesday without signing a peace deal aimed at ending nine months of fighting with the UN-backed government in Tripoli.
“We will not hesitate to teach a deserved lesson to the putschist Haftar if he continues his attacks on the country’s legitimate administration and our brothers in Libya,” Erdogan told a meeting of his party in Ankara in a televised speech.
The leaders of Russia and Turkey called for restraint in the escalating crisis between Iran and the United States, following a meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday.
“We believe that exchange of attacks and use of force by any party do not contribute to finding solutions to the complex problems in the Middle East,” said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a joint statement written in English.
“We express our commitment to de-escalate the existing tensions in the region and call on all parties to act with restraint as well as commonsense and to prioritize diplomacy,” they added.