By Halima Athumani
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday praised Uganda’s role in fighting the Ebola virus and helping bring stability to Africa.
Speaking at the State House in Kampala, Erdogan said: “Uganda has heavily invested in the concerns surrounding not only the east African region but also the entire African continent.”
The president is currently on a four-day tour of Uganda and Kenya.
Addressing journalists alongside Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Erdogan said medical techniques developed by Uganda had led to a “leap forward” in combating Ebola, which struck west Africa between 2013 and 2015, killing more than 11,000.
There have been several outbreaks of the disease in Uganda since it was first discovered in 1976 and the Uganda Virus Research Institute has a joint project with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. to control outbreaks.
Turkey had pledged $5 million to help fight the virus, Erdogan said.
Erdogan also welcomed Uganda’s involvement in Somalia, where it provides troops for the African Union mission fighting al-Shabaab militants.
“Uganda happens to be the leading country providing resources to the missions, thus contributing tremendously to the re-establishment and prosperity of peace in Somalia,” he said.
“As a very productive result of our joint efforts, Somalia has become a very different country compared to five to six years ago.”
- Always with Somalia
He added: “We have never left Somali alone. We will always be by the side of Somalia. Turkish companies have been constructing infrastructure in Somalia - health and schools. What matters is to establish contacts with the least developed countries of the world.”
Erdogan also said he hoped forthcoming elections in Somalia would contribute to the stability of the region.
Terrorism remained the main security threat in east Africa, he added, noting Turkey’s own struggle with terrorism over the last 35 years, which had led to it “paying a huge price in return”, and its commitment to supporting the victims of terrorism.
Racism was one of the “primary elements that seem to encourage the outbreak of terrorism”, he told the news conference.
Erdogan’s trip is focused on forging economic ties in east Africa and he is accompanied by 150 Turkish entrepreneurs. He said Turkey wanted to engage with African nations in an “equal partnership, [with] mutual respect and a win-win scenario in all possible occasions.”
Turkey and Uganda have recently signed agreements in tourism, defense, trade and education and Erdogan said Turkey was willing to share its experience.
Pointing to Turkey’s 39 embassies across the continent, Erdogan said: “We attach great significance to the prosperity, development, peace and security of the east African region.”
He added: “We are trying to extend a helping hand to the very comprehensive efforts of African countries as a whole.”
* Anadolu Agency correspondent Felix Tih contributed to this report from Ankara