By Andac Hongur and Izzet Taskiran
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday Turkey intended to establish embassies in all African countries.
Speaking at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport before departing for his four-day Africa tour including Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar, Erdogan said the goal was to have closer bilateral ties with all African states, a process he said started back in 2005 which was declared "Year of Africa" by the Turkish government.
Turkey was accorded observer status by the African Union the same year, and Turkey’s official policy of "opening to Africa" gained new momentum.
"Within this process, we have increased the number of Turkish embassies in Africa to 39 from 12.
"Our goal is to have embassies in all African countries, and turn Africa into a continent with which we have much closer bilateral ties," he said.
The president noted that he would also be discussing the activities of Fetullah Terroist Organization (FETO) in Africa with the heads of all three African states including Mozambique, which he said would be the first state visit at the presidential level from Ankara to the southern African state.
"In this visit, we will - together with the representatives of [Turkey's] Maarif (Education) Foundation - share our expectations from the respective authorities with regards to the fight against FETO... and what we can do in order to purge FETO from friendly and brother nations," Erdogan said.
The president went on to say that FETO, which was "caught red-handed on the night of July 15 [coup attempt]" could no longer disguise itself as an educational or trade establishment.
"God willing, with the help of Maarif Foundation, TIKA [The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency], and voluntary organizations, we will prevent this terrorist organization from being a threat for our country, nation and friends."
FETO, led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, has been accused of orchestrating the failed coup attempt of July 2016. The defeated coup left 248 people martyred, and around 2,200 others wounded.
Turkey's government accuses the FETO terror network of staging the coup attempt as well as being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Since the failed coup, operations have been ongoing in the military, police and judiciary, as well as in state institutions across the country, to arrest suspects with alleged links to FETO.
The terrorist group is also known for its network of hundreds of schools around the world.
So far, over 80 FETO organizations operating abroad, including schools and training centers, have been shut down or transferred to Maarif (Education) Foundation under Turkey's education ministry.