Birol TEKİNCE / firstname.lastname@example.org
In recent years, cooperation between Turkey and Senegal has witnessed significant developments in the fields of both the armed forces and defence manufacturing. While mutual training programmes are continuing in Turkey and Senegal, Nurol Makina’s EJDER YALÇIN and EJDER TOMA vehicles have started duty in Senegal. We heard from Colonel Babacar Seck, who has been serving as the Military Attaché of Senegal to Turkey since 22 February, 2016, about the collaborations between the two countries.
Birol TEKİNCE: How did the cooperation between Turkey and Senegal developed in the last decade?
Colonel SECK: To summarise our presence in Turkey, our diplomatic mission in Ankara was opened in 2006. Our first ambassador took up office in Ankara in 2010, and our diplomatic relations have gained momentum since then, although our cooperation in the fields of trade and defence has been quite limited. Actually, there was a lack of awareness of the many opportunities either in Senegalese side or in Turkish one. For Turkey, Senegal and even Africa was that big black hole; difficult to penetrate with a market strongly handled by Westerners and Asian dragons among others. For Senegal, Turkey was that far country; self-sufficient, concentrating most of its trade with Asia, Westerners and Middle East countries. It is only by 2016 that thanks to intense diplomatic and military activities in Ankara, that a real dynamic came out within economic and defence cooperation between the two countries. This was displayed in terms of great increase in the volume of trade to 113% between 2015 and 2017 equivalent of around $250,000,000.
In terms of achievements, many projects have been initiated, some already completed and approved and others in the process of being finalized, worth more than $800,000,000.
Birol TEKİNCE: What is the current status of military collaborations between Turkey and Senegal?
Colonel SECK: Bilateral military cooperation between Senegal and Turkey is mainly based on training programs for Senegalese military, all ranks concerned. Generally, it is Turkey which welcomes Senegalese trainees in its various training centers, like Partnership for Peace Training Center, Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism (COE-DAT), etc. Senegal is presently taking under account French language training for some Turkish officers since 2019.
Besides the training of the Senegalese military, Turkey also welcomes Senegalese cadets in the Land, Air, Sea, Gendarmerie and Coast Guard military academies as well as at the Health Center of Sağlık Bilimleri Üniversitesi.
Birol TEKİNCE: What is the current status of defence and aerospace collaborations between Turkey and Senegal?
Colonel SECK: The Senegalese gendarmerie signed in 2017 a contract with Nurol Makina for 25 EJDER YALÇIN and 2 TOMA vehicles, intended to reinforce anti-terrorist and riot control capacities. The said equipment took part in the parade of April 4, 2018 and aroused great satisfaction. In 2018, two delegations led respectively by Armed Forces and Gendarmerie Commanders visited Turkey in order to prospect equipment. In addition, on last IDEF 2019 organized in Istanbul, Senegalese Armed Forces Commander paid a courtesy visit to his Turkish counterpart General Yaşar Güler. His delegation was comprised of four high-ranking officers of Senegalese General Staff. Also during the same year, the Turkish language laboratory opened officially in Dakar, allowing Senegalese students to familiarize themselves with Turkish language before heading to Turkey for a training program.
Besides and in accordance with cooperation agreements, consultations are organized on an annual basis in Senegal or in Turkey, thus giving one of the parties the opportunity to visit the other and to co-evaluate the results of the cooperation. So far, three sessions have taken place, including two in Senegal and one in Turkey.
Above all, it is good to know that the cooperation between the two countries is anchored on a foundation of shared values and visions, aspirations and common interests. Turkish officials, both civilian and military, like to indicate that they see the Senegalese as their own brothers.
Birol TEKİNCE: Is there anything you would like to add?
Colonel SECK: Above all, it is good to know that the cooperation between the two countries is anchored on a foundation of shared values and visions, aspirations and common interests. Turkish officials, both civilian and military, like to indicate that they see the Senegalese as their own brothers and that the partnership, rather than being limited to sales or related activities, must be win-win partnership, with training modules, exchange of expertise, assistance whenever necessary, as well as technology transfers after setting up branches for certain companies. Our goal is to make Senegal a local base in terms of both military cooperation and defence manufacturing, thus making Senegal a more independent and more reliable country.
As a final note, I can say that we have many ongoing projects, but I cannot share the details with you due to confidentiality constraints. I would like to thank you very much for the interest and care you have shown to my beloved country, Senegal.
On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Colonel Babacar Seck, Military Naval and Air Attaché of Senegal in Turkey, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing us with such valuable information.