By Andrew Ross and Magdalene Mukami
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey is ready to share its experience in the fight against terrorism with Kenya.
Addressing a joint news conference alongside his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Thursday, Erdogan said Turkey will share its anti-terror experience to bring peace in the region.
“Turkey and Kenya have been facing the same problem [terrorism] in their regions. There are many areas where we can share our experiences,” he said.
The visit, which comes between trips to Uganda and Somalia, aims to strengthen Turkey’s relations with east African countries.
Erdogan said "the stability of East Africa is vital for Turkey. We are actively involved in Somalia since five years for [the sake of establishing] peace in the region.
“Turkey has been struggling with terrorism since the last 35 years. As a result of the attacks, we have lost more than 40,000 people. We know what terrorism is and that is why we stand by Kenya.”
Erdogan also called on the international community to learn about how to treat refugees from Turkey and Kenya.
“Kenya and Turkey opened its doors to millions of refugees,” he said.
He also mentioned the first ever World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul last week, which brought stakeholders together. But he noted the need for implementation to tackle the refugee crisis.
“Words are not enough. We need execution,” he said.
While lesser developed countries try to tackle the refugee problem, "rich countries are failing to do so. This is a double-standard issue and injustice that we cannot admit,” he said.
The Turkish president also mentioned Syria.
“I have had the opportunity to discuss the situation in Syria with world leaders. I have asked world leaders to establish a security zone [no fly zone] in northern Syria, free from terrorism, because these people should be able to live free from fear. We should save them from getting into the Mediterranean,” he said.
He also called for boosting economic ties with Kenya.
Erdogan’s trip aims to forge strong economic ties in East Africa. The president, who was accompanied by 135 Turkish entrepreneurs during his visit, said Turkey wanted to engage with African nations in an “equal partnership, [with] mutual respect and a win-win scenario on all possible occasions.
“Last year, our trade volume was $144 million. This is very small...I asked the president that, if possible, we should increase it [trade volume] to $1 billion. I know that we have the potential to do that.”
Turkey currently cooperates with Kenya in the fields of health, education, railways, energy and tourism.
He added that Turkish Airline could also invest in Kenya, which would help the Turkish people come together even closer.
"TIKA [The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency] is involved in many projects in Kenya in the fields of development, women and youth education,” he noted.
For his part, Kenyatta said: “Both President Erdogan and I agree that the trade volume between our two countries is unacceptably below our expectations, and we are committed to see this figure increased to a much higher level.”
He thanked Turkey for the relations that it has tightened with Kenya for more than a century.
He also welcomed Turkey’s assistance in boosting security in Kenya.
Kenyatta’s office also said: “During the bilateral meeting, President Kenyatta urged Turkey to invest in Kenya’s renewable energy sector, infrastructure development, agro-processing, irrigation, ICT [information and communication technologies], oil and mining, and manufacturing sectors.”
The two heads of state also oversaw the signing of three bilateral agreements Thursday to improve cooperation between the two countries, bringing the total number of bilateral agreements signed so far to 13.
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Felix Tih contributed to this report from Ankara.