By Fatma Esma Arslan
ISTANBUL (AA) – Niger needs Turkey's experience and equipment support in its fight against terrorism, the premier of the West African country told Anadolu Agency.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul last week, Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou hailed the intense participation from about 40 African countries.
He said the gathering was very “productive,” adding that everyone was very satisfied with the event.
The cooperation between Turkey and Niger, the premier said, is multidimensional.
The Niger office of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has implemented various projects in the fields of education, agriculture and health, he said, while the Turkish Maarif Foundation currently runs a school there.
He further said that the Turkish investors as well as institutions have recently started to invest in Niger.
The Niamey Airport was built by the Turkish company Summa, he stated, also mentioning the Niger-Turkey Friendship Hospital in the capital Niamey.
- Fight against terrorism
Mahamadou underlined that a project that plans cooperation with the Turkish government and companies in different fields is currently being discussed.
"Security, agriculture and industry are at the forefront of these cooperation areas. There may also be a free zone opportunity for Turkish companies in the industry field. While we want to diversify the areas of cooperation, we continue our cooperation in the fields of education, health and humanitarian aid," he said.
Emphasizing Turkey's experience in the fight against terrorism, Mahamadou said his country needs Turkey's experience in this field.
"In addition to intelligence and strategy sharing, equipment support is also important. Turkey is far ahead of Niger in terms of military equipment, aviation and unmanned aerial vehicles. Turkey can contribute to Niger's fight against terrorism in many areas," he stressed.
- Anti-French sentiment
Touching upon the increasing anti-French sentiment in Niger, Mahamadou underlined that behind this perception are the fake news and the community's feeling of "revenge" against France from the colonial period.
"Today, with the widespread use of mobile phones, fake news spread very easily... I think that the issue of fake news is effective in increasing anti-French sentiment. We should also look at the common history. Niger was a former French colony. At this point, it is possible to say that they acted with a sense of revenge against the former colony," he said.
The premier asserted that the young people, on the other hand, do not realize how difficult it is to fight terrorism.
"They thought that as soon as the French military Operation Barkhane arrives, the terror problem will be over."
France has maintained about 5,100 soldiers in West Africa as part of its Operation Barkhane with its headquarters in Chad’s capital N’Djamena. Forces are being drawn down, with President Emmanuel Macron announcing in July an end to the operation by early 2022.
Its forces were mainly focused on tackling armed groups in Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger.
"However, the fight against terrorism is both very complex and progressing slowly. Modern armies also have difficulties in the fight against terrorism, because the enemy does not use conventional weapons, does not respect the law of war, uses suicide bombers. The war drags on, but when there is no victory, anti-French sentiment also rises," Mahamadou said.
*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev in Ankara