He said Nigeria and Turkey have a long history and that there was a lot that can be done between the two countries.
“Obviously, there are some issues we need to discuss. This is our first engagement, and we will continue to engage.
“We in the 9th House have deployed what we call Legislative Diplomacy to see how we can address diplomatic issues.
“I’m glad that you brought the issue of the parliamentary friendship group,” Gbajabiamila said.
Gbajabiamila added that the House would explore more avenues when members return from their annual vacation.
“I envisage a parliamentary visit from our end between September and October, barring unforeseen circumstances.
“We’ll explore all the areas: security, economy, politics, agriculture and all that. We’ll establish that group in the next couple of days and look out to our engagement in September-October,” the lawmaker assured.
Earlier, the Turkish Ambassador, Mr Bayraktar said there has been a cordial relationship between the two countries, but added that there was the need to strengthen parliamentary ties.
He said his country had some time in 2018 established a Turkish-Nigeria parliamentary friendship group, calling for such in the Nigerian Parliament.
He said to boost the relationship between the parliaments of the two countries, it would not be out of place for Speaker Gbajabiamila to consider a visit to Turkey.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday he would meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of next week’s NATO summit, after months of bitter exchanges between the two leaders.
The pair have locked horns over a series of international crises including Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Macron has also warned that Turkey would try to meddle in France’s 2022 presidential election.
He has suggested that Ankara’s unilateral moves on the international stage and purchase of air defence missile systems from Russia have contributed to a “brain death” of NATO, where Turkey is a key member.
Speaking to reporters in Paris, Macron said he planned to meet Erdogan “just before” the NATO summit which begins in Brussels on Monday.
“When we are members of the same organisation, we cannot decide to buy equipment that does not allow interoperability, we cannot decide to carry out unilateral operations which are against the interests of the coalitions that we have built,” Macron said.
He added that the two sides had “profound disagreements” but need to “continue to talk”.
A new law against Islamist extremism which the French government introduced after a series of attacks also aroused Erdogan’s ire, with the Turkish leader accusing France of Islamophobia.
The Turkish leader last year said Macron needed “mental checks” and expressed hope that France would “get rid of” Macron as soon as possible.
But there have been tentative signs of an easing of tensions in recent months, with Erdogan keen to strengthen links with Turkey’s Western partners at a time of growing economic difficulties at home compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.
US President Joe Biden on Saturday recognized the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide, a watershed moment for descendants of the hundreds of thousands of dead as he defied decades of pressure by Turkey.
Biden became the first US president to use the word genocide in a customary statement on the anniversary, a day after informing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would go ahead with this step and seeking to limit the expected furor from the NATO ally.
“We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” Biden said.
“And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms,” he said.
The statement is a massive victory for Armenia and its extensive diaspora. Starting with Uruguay in 1965, nations including France, Germany, Canada and Russia have recognized the genocide but a US statement has been a paramount goal that proved elusive under other presidents until Biden.
Biden said his statement was “not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”
Biden made the decision “in a very principled way focused on the merits of human rights, and not for any reason beyond that, including placing blame,” a senior US official said.
Biden took office vowing to put a new focus on human rights and democracy in the wake of his volatile predecessor Donald Trump, who befriended authoritarians and, despite breaking plenty of foreign policy precedents, declined to recognize the Armenian genocide.
Explaining Biden’s thinking, the administration official also alluded to the Democratic president’s outspokenness on systemic racism in the United States.
Across the world, “people are beginning to acknowledge and address and grapple with the painful historical facts in their own countries. It’s certainly something that we are doing here in the United States,” she said.
A century of waiting
As many as 1.5 million Armenians are estimated to have been killed from 1915 to 1917 during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, which suspected the Christian minority of conspiring with adversary Russia in World War I.
Armenian populations were rounded up and deported into the desert of Syria on death marches where many were shot, poisoned or fell victim to disease, according to accounts at the time by foreign diplomats.
Turkey, which emerged as a secular republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, acknowledges that 300,000 Armenians may have died but strongly rejects that it was genocide, saying they perished in strife and famine in which many Turks also died.
Erdogan on Thursday told advisors to “defend the truth against those who back the so-called ‘Armenian genocide’ lie,” with his foreign minister warning that the United States would set back relations.
Recognition has been a top priority for the Armenia and Armenian-Americans, with calls for compensation and property restoration over what they call Meds Yeghern — the Great Crime.
Biden’s statement was also expected to heighten appeals from Armenia for greater US support against Turkish-backed neighbor Azerbaijan, which last year humiliated Armenia by taking back swathes of territory seized in the 1990s.
But Biden, whose call to Erdogan to inform him of the genocide recognition was their first conversation since the US leader took office three months ago, has signaled he hopes for limited diplomatic impact.
Biden and Erdogan agreed in their call to meet in June on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels, officials said.
Biden has kept Erdogan at arm’s length — a contrast with Trump, whom the Turkish leader reportedly found so amenable that he would call Trump directly on his phone on the golf course.
The US Congress in 2019 voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Armenian genocide but the Trump administration made clear that the official US line had not changed.
Former president Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president, danced around the issue by referencing pre-election statements he made recognizing the genocide and resisted pressure for a statement on the centennial in 2015.
Alan Makovsky, an expert on Turkey at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, said that the 2019 congressional resolution had “no discernible impact” on US-Turkey relations — and paved the way for Biden to go ahead.
“We’ve seen through experience that concern about Turkey’s reaction was always overblown,” he said.
“Turkey will raise a rhetorical fuss for a few days and perhaps delay acting on some routine requests from the US military.”
Tensions have risen with Turkey in recent years over its purchase of a major air defense system from Russia — the chief adversary of NATO — which under US law could trigger sanctions.
Turkey has also infuriated much of the US political establishment with its incursions against US-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria who helped fight the Islamic State group but are linked to militants inside Turkey.
Biden before taking office called Erdogan an autocrat and voiced support for Turkey’s opposition. His administration has also criticized homophobic statements from those close to the Islamist-oriented Erdogan.
A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced 22 former soldiers to life in jail for their roles in a failed 2016 bid to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of his lawyers told AFP.
In its latest mass trial of suspects whose failure to oust Erdogan was followed by a sweeping political crackdown and arrests, an Ankara court investigated the role of 497 former soldiers, including members of the presidential guard.
The putsch attempt included a raid on Turkey’s main state television broadcaster, whose newscaster was forced to read out a statement from the military junta leaders.
Turkish authorities on Sunday arrested a pro-Kurdish opposition MP who had refused to leave parliament for several days after his seat was revoked, his party said.
Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu “was brought out by force while he was in pyjamas and slippers” by “nearly 100 police officers”, the leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement.
The parliament on Wednesday revoked the seat of Gergerlioglu, an outspoken rights defender, and his accompanying immunity from prosecution after a controversial conviction over a social media post.
Gergerlioglu was handed a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for spreading “terrorist propaganda” online.
Gergerlioglu has rejected the accusations, and his expulsion from parliament was criticised by numerous campaign groups and Western governments.
He had remained holed up in a room in the parliament since Wednesday.
The HDP tweeted a photo of him being escorted out of the room, wearing a black T-shirt.
“You used to be able to see this kind of scene in the 1990s. Unfortunately, nothing has changed,” Gergerlioglu said during his arrest, according to comments reported by his party.
His remark referred to a decade marked by a flaring of the Kurdish conflict in southeastern Turkey when several pro-Kurdish MPs were arrested.
The HDP, the third-largest party in the Turkish parliament, has been under a constant crackdown since 2016 with the arrest of several of its lawmakers and leaders, including its charismatic co-chair Selahattin Demirtas.
Demirtas — a two-time rival to incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan in presidential elections — has been kept in detention since 2016 despite calls from the European Court of Human Rights demanding his release.
The top public prosecutor in Ankara had on Wednesday demanded that the HDP be dissolved over its alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has been waging an insurgency since 1984 that has killed tens of thousands and is listed as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and its Western allies.
The HDP has seen dozens of its mayors dismissed over alleged terror links.
Western powers have universally condemned the bid to shut down the HDP. The country’s highest court is due to rule on the case in the coming weeks.
Thousands protested in Turkey on Saturday calling for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reverse his decision to withdraw from the world’s first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women.
The government sparked domestic and international outrage after announcing the decision before dawn on Saturday, the latest victory for conservatives in Erdogan’s nationalist party and their allies who argued the treaty damaged family unity.
The 2011 Istanbul Convention, signed by 45 countries and the European Union, requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
“Reverse your decision, apply the treaty!” chanted thousands of people during a protest in the Kadikoy neighbourhood on the Asian side of Istanbul on Saturday.
The protesters held up portraits of women murdered in Turkey, one reading: “It is women who will win this war”.
Protester Banu said she was “fed up with the patriarchal state”.
“I’m fed with not feeling safe. Enough!” she told AFP.
Other smaller protests were held in the capital Ankara and the southwestern city of Izmir, according to media reports.
Europe’s top rights body, the Council of Europe, denounced Turkey’s withdrawal from a treaty it sponsored.
“This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond,” Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric said.
The treaty “is widely regarded as the gold standard in international efforts to protect women and girls from the violence that they face every day in our societies,” she added.
The European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor tweeted that “this is the current Turkish government’s real face: complete disregard to the rule of law, and full backsliding on human rights.”
Germany’s foreign ministry said it “sent a bad signal to Europe and above all to Turkish women” while France said “this setback to rights is worrying.”
Conservatives had claimed the charter damages family unity and encourages divorce, and that its references to equality were being used by the LGBT community to gain broader acceptance in society.
Turkey had been debating a possible departure after an official in Erdogan’s party suggested dropping the treaty last year.
Since then, women have taken to the streets in cities across the country calling on the government to stick to the convention.
‘You and your evil’
The publication of the decree in the official gazette early Saturday immediately sparked anger.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, one of Erdogan’s main rivals, tweeted that the decision “tramples on the struggle that women have been waging for years”.
Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairperson of the main opposition CHP party, said abandoning the treaty meant “keeping women second-class citizens and letting them be killed.”
“Despite you and your evil, we will stay alive and bring back the convention,” she said on Twitter.
Even the pro-government Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), whose deputy chair is Erdogan’s younger daughter, expressed some unease, saying the Istanbul Convention “played an important role in the fight against violence”.
In response to the avalanche of criticism, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said “our institutions and our security forces will continue to fight domestic violence and violence against women”.
300 femicides in 2020
Domestic violence and femicide remain a serious problem in Turkey.
Last year, 300 women were murdered and the rate is speeding up, with 77 killed already this year, according to the rights group We Will Stop Femicide Platform.
“The Istanbul convention was not signed at your command and it will not leave our lives on your command,” the platform’s secretary general Fidan Ataselim tweeted.
The country was also shaken by a video spread widely on social media earlier this month showing a man beating his ex-wife on the street.
The man was arrested on Sunday and Erdogan announced a parliamentary commission would be created to look at legislation to combat violence.
Rights groups accuse Erdogan of taking mostly Muslim but officially secular Turkey on an increasingly socially conservative course during his 18 years in power.
After a spectacular Pride March in Istanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, the government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.
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.