As Turkey and Uganda celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, relations between the two countries are at their best, Turkey’s ambassador to Uganda said Tuesday.
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations, we have focused on a number of priorities such as enhancing trade, investment, education and humanitarian assistance and military and defense cooperation as well as parliamentary diplomacy,” Kerem Alp told Anadolu Agency by phone from the capital, Kampala.
”As I speak to you now, the speaker of the parliament of Uganda and the prime minister along with ministers and the chairman of the Turkey-Uganda Parliamentary Friendship Committee are visiting Turkey. So in terms of high-level visits, we are on a good track,” Alp said.
He said the two nations have exchanged a number of drafts and texts that will see increased cooperation in many fields and hopes they will be signed soon.
These include cooperation between parliaments, labor and social services, investment avoidance of double taxation, higher education, law enforcement, military and defense cooperation and the establishment of cultural centers, he said.
Alp said the Maarif Foundation, an educational arm of the Turkish government, has decided to establish an office in Uganda.
”We are now working on the modalities,” he said.
”The Yunus Emre Cultural center will also be opened as soon as the related draft agreement is signed between competent authorities.”
Alp also said Turkish investments have picked in Uganda, with production facilities opening up this year.
“Turkish construction companies are increasingly interested in helping build Uganda’s infrastructure, and one company has won a tender for road construction in Karamoja, [a region in northeastern Uganda]. We hope others will follow.”
Alp further revealed that around 17 Turkish non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the Diyanet Foundation have been very active in Uganda throughout the year, including the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when they distribute food packages and meat.
”We have continued to offer vocational education in Uganda, teaching skills to hundreds of women in various fields. We have also donated 100 sewing machines to our graduates, and through the Turkish NGOs, generous Turkish donors have financed the building of mosques in different parts of Uganda.”
Alp also said at least two voluntary medical teams from Turkey came to Uganda this year to perform several operations and examinations valued at thousands of dollars.
Turkey also offers educational scholarships to Ugandan students wishing to further their studies in Turkey.
To cement the already strong ties, the Alp has been learning the local Luganda language, which is widely spoken in the country.
Alp recently surprised Ugandan officials and fellow diplomats when he gave part of his address in nearly perfect Luganda.