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Turkey seeks to take over more FETO schools in Africa​

Thursday January 19, 2017
By Meltem Bulur 

Turkish officials will hold talks with African counterparts to take over FETO-run schools during upcoming Erdogan visit ​ ​

ANKARA - Turkey's overseas educational foundation seeks to take over FETO-linked schools during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's southeast African tour starting Sunday, according to the body's chairman.  

Cem Zorlu, the chairman of Turkey's Maarif (Education) Foundation, told Anadolu Agency that Turkish officials will meet with local officials to take action on FETO-run schools as part of Erdogan’s official visits to Tanzania, Madagascar, and Mozambique. 

The foundation is the only institution authorized to open schools on behalf of Turkey abroad. It has been tasked to take over schools abroad operated by the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) following the coup attempt of last July, which Turkey blames the group for. 

“By modernizing the schools in question, the foundation will contribute to the education supported by qualified Turkish and local instructors,” he said. 

“The foundation will prioritize local instructors to hire,” he added. 

"We took over schools in Guinea, Niger, and Somalia, and signed memorandums of understanding with the governments of Chad, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Senegal, Gabon, and Mauritania,” he added.   

"Negotiations are still ongoing [for schools] in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Thailand, Cambodia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Iraq, northern Iraq, Moldova, Uganda, Australia, Indonesia and Azerbaijan," he said last week on the issue.  

Latest African tour 

Erdogan is scheduled to pay a four-day, three-country visit to eastern and southern Africa on Jan. 22-25. 

Erdogan will first visit Tanzania on Jan. 22-23, followed by Mozambique on Jan. 23-24 and Madagascar on Jan. 24-25. 

Next week’s tour follows up his visits to Senegal in February 2016, followed by Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea in April, and Uganda, Kenya and Somalia in May and June. 

During his latest visits to Africa, Erdogan vowed to boost Turkish-African relations. 

"The growing cooperation between Turkey and Africa shows that a lot can be accomplished by engaging our partners genuinely and finding solutions that serve the interests of both sides," Erdogan said last June. 

 "It also sends a strong message about Africa's true potential to the world," he added. 

 When Erdogan was prime minister, Ankara declared 2005 the Year of Africa, Turkey was accorded observer status by the African Union, and Turkey’s official policy of "opening to Africa" gained new momentum. 

FETO networks 

 According to Turkey’s government, FETO leader Fetullah Gulen – a resident of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania – masterminded the July 15 defeated coup, which left at least 248 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured. 

Ankara has also said FETO is behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

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 the Turkish government.


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