Marking the 55th anniversary of Zambia's independence, the nation's ambassador to Turkey on Monday praised relations between the two countries.
Delivering a speech in Ankara, Turkey's capital, marking Oct. 24, Zambia's Independence Day, Joseph Chilengi gave special thanks for Turkey's support to the Zambian mission since it opened over five years ago.
Let me also seize this opportunity to convey special thanks to the government of the Republic of Turkey, which has been looking after us, for the support it has continued to render to our mission since the inauguration of the embassy on May 12, 2014, Chilengi said.
This year's gathering to mark Zambia's national day had the theme Our Freedom, Our Country, Our Responsibility.
On the occasion of this independence anniversary, I am proud to state that Zambia enjoys excellent relations with Turkey and relations have continued to grow from strength to strength since the reciprocal opening of diplomatic missions, he stated.
This strategic partnership is based on mutual respect and transparency for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries. This is reflected in the 12 cooperation agreements signed in various sectors such as diplomacy, tourism, education, trade and investment, security, sports, and the media, Chilengi added.
We have also noted with satisfaction the increased interaction both between the governments and the private sectors of the two countries, he said.
Turkey's Labor, Social Services and Family Minister Zehra Zumrut Selcuk also gave Turkey's congratulations for the 55th anniversary of Zambia's independence.
On the occasion of Zambia's Independence Day, I would like to extend my congratulations to the people of Zambia on behalf of myself and the Turkish nation, she said.
'Important partner in Africa'
Selcuk, who was recently appointed co-chair of the Turkey-Zambia Joint Economic Commission, added: Turkey sees Zambia as an important partner in Africa and we are keen to improve our bilateral relations.
Since your arrival in Turkey, our relations with Zambia have gained a momentum, she told Chilengi.
Turkey and Zambia have both displayed their mutual will to improve their bilateral relations and there have been reciprocal high-level visits recently, she said, including, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to the southern African country last year.
On trade, the Turkish official said that in 2018 bilateral trade totaled about $18 million.
We aim to increase our bilateral trade volume with Zambia to a level that corresponds to our common potential, she said.
We believe that the Agreement on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments, signed during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Zambia in 2018, will contribute considerably to the development of our relations, Selcuk stressed.
When Erdogan visited Zambia in July 2018, the two countries signed pacts to boost ties in areas such as agriculture, stockbreeding, fishery, tourism, investment, sports, and diplomacy.
I would like to announce that we will hold the first meeting of the Turkey-Zambia Joint Economic Commission in February 2020 in Lusaka, Zambia's capital, she said.
On educational ties, Selcuk said Ankara expects that the Turkish Maarif Foundation to become operational by taking over FETO-affiliated schools in Zambia as it did in many other countries as soon as possible.
The Fetullah Terrorist Organization and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
FETO also has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private educational institutions that serve as a revenue stream for the terrorist group.
Turkey established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to FETO. The foundation also establishes schools and education centers abroad.
Source: Anadolu Agency