Ankara, Turkey (PANA) - African media have been urged to help foster stronger relations between the continent and Turkey.
Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc made the call at the inaugural Forum of African and Turkish media, which opened Wednesday in Ankara.
"Information is power and those who hold it have the strength. This first meeting of African and Turkish media in Ankara is the first step and will help build a bridge of friendship between my country and the African continent,'' he said, adding that the media has a major role to play in achieving this goal.
Speaking on relations between Africa and Turkey, which he described as longstanding, the Deputy Prime Minister said his country has 35 embassies in Africa and that three new diplomatic missions will soon open.
He said the volume of trade between the two parties has significantly increased from US$742 million in 2000 to US$17 billion in 2011.
In the construction sector, he said between 1972 and 2012, numerous projects worth US$39 billion were carried out, while Turkish Airlines currently serves 19 African countries.
There are also hundreds of Turkish schools in Africa and a university in Nigeria, he said, adding that many scholarships are being awarded to African students.
"I hope these relationships will increase in coming years and we ask the African media to cooperate so that our people get closer and also better understand each other," said Arinc.
Many journalists from across the two nations, as well as opinion leadrs, academicians and politicians, are attending the forum.
Organized by the Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information and sponsored by the Initiative for African media, the meeting aims to create a professional solidarity between Turkish and African media institutions.
-0- PANA BM/JSG/JEN/SEG 9May2012