Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has praised the Ivory Coast’s policies on immigrants, describing the country as a “safe haven.”
“The Ivory Coast is a safe haven and a roof as a shelter for these people,” said Erdogan late on Sunday, who is on an official visit to the West African country.
Erdogan said that immigrants, who make up over 11 percent of the population, “are not seen as a burden and a problem,” adding that they were a symbol of the country’s “understanding.”
The Turkish president arrived in the country late on Sunday at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport.
The President of Ivory Cost Alassane Ouattara and his spouse Dominique Ouattara gave an official reception in honor of Erdogan and his spouse Emine Erdogan at the Sofitel Hotel in Abidjan, the country’s capital.
During his speech, Erdogan emphasized that he is the first Turkish president to ever visit the Ivory Coast.
“I like to call it the 'Ivory Coast model,” Erdogan said, referring to the huge migrant population in the country.
“I'd like this situation to be an example for all continents and all countries across the world,” Erdogan said.
"We are also hosting our three million Syrian and Iraqi brothers and sisters who fled from their conflicts without any discrimination of religion, language and ethnic background."
He also said Abidjan and Istanbul have significant potential for business cooperation.
Turkish Airlines launched its first flights to Abidjan in 2013. The flights are being operated four times a week but Erdogan said that they wanted to see direct flights every day.
Erdogan also said that Turkey recorded a 17 percent increase in Turkish/Ivorian trade volume from $330 million [end-2014] to $390 million [end-2015], adding that Turkey and the Ivory Coast are to boost economic trade volume to $1 billion by 2020.
The Turkish head of state will also attend a Turkey-Ivory Coast Business Forum before going on to Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea during his West Africa tour.
He launched his sub-Saharan Africa tour with a visit to Senegal last month.
Increasing Turkey's presence outside its traditional sphere of influence, this year alone, Erdogan also visited South American countries Chile, Ecuador and Peru.