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Turkey’s position bridging Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and its growing economic and political power, make it an increasingly important regional and international actor in terms of security, leadership and governance. Within this context, a particular trend over the last decade has been the increasing leadership role of Turkey in conflict resolution and peacebuilding in such African contexts as Somalia and Libya. Compared to a number of other actors such as Western powers, the US and China, Turkey is relatively new in African politics and trade circles. However, it has already expanded its area of influence in the continent by linking its soft power tools of transportation links, trade and education closely with its foreign policy. In its most generalized and simplified terms, the process might proceed as follows: once an African country is identified as a strategic foreign policy priority and the Turkish Foreign Ministry establishes its diplomatic presence there, it is very likely that Turkish Airlines would soon launch a flight destination in that country. This would be followed by increasing economic links formed by a wide range of globally active Turkish companies. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry would probably sign an agreement to ease the existing visa regime between Turkey and that country to increase the level of interaction in the realms of commerce, academia and culture. A number of Turkish schools from the kindergarten to high school levels in the country concerned would also be likely to play an active role in consolidating such diplomatic and trade relations. These private schools are highly sought after by local communities in their particular contexts, as they provide top level education. Finally, the Turkish government may provide scholarship opportunities to graduates of these schools in order to take a university degree in Turkey.
Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 4 No. 2