The Turkish Weekly: Equatorial Guinea - Turkey’s New Gate to Africa25.11.2014
The venue for the event may seem unexpected seeing that Turkish activities in Africa are typically geared towards the continent’s north and north-eastern regions, which are mainly inhabited by Muslims. But there is more to this than meets the eye. Some countries with developing economies seek to expand to Africa, which can change the global landscape very soon, in light of an escalating struggle over natural resources.
Everyone knows that China has been succeeding in snapping at the heels of England and France with their lasting presence in Central Africa. China is followed by Turkey, which is represented in the region by various business projects and humanitarian programs. Equatorial Guinea is a country where Turkish interests are becoming more ponderable. The first Turkish school was opened in Malabo, and that is just the beginning.
Turkey’s ambitions in Equatorial Guinea can be easily explained. Equatorial Guinea is a small country, the third largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa (after Nigeria and Angola) and a vivid example of an emerging Africa in which many countries are eager to cement their place.
In July 2014, Equatorial Guinea was admitted as a full member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLC), among whose member states are Angola (the second-largest oil producer in Africa) and Brazil (the largest developing country of the organization in terms of proven oil reserves, ranking 16th globally).
Proven reserves of continental shelf oil in Equatorial Guinea exceed 1.1 billion barrels, and gas reserves reach 200 billion cubic meters. The country is a full member in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).
With these figures in mind, the combined hydrocarbon resources of the CPLC can favorably compete with Near East oil.
But such prospects do not sit well with everyone. Those who failed to make a mark on Equatorial Guinea seem quite offended. For the past ten years, neocolonial forces have regularly attempted to topple the government of Equatorial Guinea via armed mercenaries. While these attempts have taken a hard knock, some international financial raiders persevere in their endeavor to discredit the government of Equatorial Guinea.
Yet the policy of defamation against the African country is suffering a defeat, which can be proved by an out-of-court settlement that received heavy media coverage. The amicable agreement was reached last month by and between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Second Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Mangue, the son of incumbent President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
The settlement was reached upon three civil action lawsuits for asset misappropriation that were initiated by non-governmental organizations backed by the famous billionaire and financial tycoon George Soros.
Signed between Teodoro Obiang Mangue and the U.S. Department of Justice, the agreement reads that the former has not admitted his guilt and is obligated to sell his villa in California, his Ferrari and six full-length Michael Jackson statues. The U.S. Department of Justice, therewith halting its persecution against the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea, vowed to ensure the immunity of other property owned by Teodoro Obiang Mangue on U.S. territory not covered by provisions of the agreement. The Department is now also obligated to abstain from supporting third countries in their attempts to seize the property owned by the son of the President of Equatorial Guinea on the U.S. territory.
Besides, the non-governmental organizations that pursued legal action against the Equatoguinean vice president are not going to receive any of the money that will be raised from the selling of Teodoro Obiang Mangue’s seized property. Apart from payments to reimburse huge expenses incurred by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with the case, the rest of the funds will be forwarded to charity organizations operating in Equatorial Guinea.
Teodoro Obiang Mangue announced that he concluded the agreement with the Department of Justice in the best interests of consolidating relations between Equatorial Guinea and the U.S. It stands to mention that U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea Mark Ascino called bilateral relations between the two countries “great”, which is apparent, since the oil and gas rich deposits in the Equatoguinean shale are chiefly developed by American oil & gas companies.
Thus, the American Department of Justice hit the public image of non-governmental organizations, not the Equatoguinean government.
According to an American conservative online newspaper, Examiner.com, “This especially strikes the eye taking into account some practices applied by Soros that has regularly been investigated and prosecuted in some countries. For example, in October 2011, the European Court of Human Rights affirmed and upheld the judgment rendered by the French court that had in fact convicted Soros for corruption. The case concerned the procurement of insider information related to security transactions of a French banking and financial company Société Générale, for using it for his own benefit.”
As for Turkey, its attitude towards the African continent is not associated with a negative historical background. It is customary that Ankara stays away from any Africa-related media scandals understanding they are mainly rested in old complexes and neo-colonialist ambitions.
Such a policy is beneficial to everyone. In 2009, there were 12 Turkish embassies in Africa. In 2013, there were 35 of them, and another 4 embassies are to be established in the near future. Whereas, only 10 diplomatic missions from African countries were to be found in Ankara five years ago, today, there are 28.
The foreign trade turnover between Turkey and Africa grew threefold over the course of 3 years, reaching $23.4 billion in 2013 (from 750 million in 2010), of which $7.5 billion accounts for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, African countries make up 19 percent of all those engaged in the international activities of Turkish companies[o5] . Suffice it to say, the Sipopo-based conference center (in the suburbs of Malabo) that was the venue for the Summit had been built as per the design of the well-known [o6] Istanbul-based company Tabanlıoğlu Architects.