Turkey's Involvement in the Conflict in the Central African Republic
Even though Turkey does not have a permanent mission in the CAR, it has an Honorary Consulate in Bangui since 2003. Relations between Turkey and the CAR have not developed until 2008. With the first Turkey-Africa Summit took place in Istanbul in 2008; bilateral relations began to increase between the two countries. In 2008, the CAR’s Prime Minister H.E. Faustin Archange Toudera first visited Turkey. The visit was important step to cement political relations between the CAR and Turkey.[i] Turkey has been concerned about the crisis in the CAR. First of all, Turkey has participated in the international community to discuss the crisis in the CAR. Turkey urgently called the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to make a common plan to stop the conflict in the country on 20 February 2014. Turkey advised to the OIC to send a special commission to the CAR and prepare an urgent plan to halt the violence. Turkey has also participated in a meeting with the EU and the UN to find a solution for the conflict. Importantly, Turkey's official assistance agency (TIKA) has visited the region to prepare a report concerning the development in the country. Foreign Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu had also a meeting with the neighboring countries of the CAR to talk about the political developments.
The Turkish delegation visited the capital of the CAR, Bangui and held a dozen of meeting with the president, prime minister, ministers, different government institutions and NGOs in the country to investigate the current situation in the CAR. As a result of the official visit of Turkey to the CAR, Turkey has provided humanitarian assistance to the refugees who live in the Sarh refugee camp in Chad. 18,000 refugees fled the CAR and live in this camp. Furthermore, Turkey has started to provide medical care to the refugees through the Turkish Development Agency (TIKA).[ii] Turkey has also responded positively to the request of the EU to support the EU’s peacekeeping mission in the fields of humanitarian assistance and security in March 2014.[iii]
Turkey provides training for the police of some African countries. Turkey announced that it will provide any support for stopping the conflict and establishing peace and security through the OIC and other international organizations. Why Turkey's efforts cannot be effective in preserving peace and security in the country? The problem is that the OIC remains passive in world politics. Particularly, the poor coordination among the members of the OIC restrains the effectiveness of the organization. It is a fact that the OIC is the largest international organization after the UN, however, the pursuit of national interests of the members have reduced the international power of it. The OIC can be an effective organization to support the common interest of the Islamic world, however, the lack of a strategic vision of the organization undermines the global power of the institution. Even though Turkey is playing an active role in sustaining peace and security in the CAR, its steps and efforts have been constrained. Turkish should organize an international conference regarding the conflict in the CAR and invite all the stakeholders and increase its humanitarian assistance for the civilians affected by the conflict. Furthermore, Turkish Government should increase its political, economic and social relations with African regional and sub-regional organizations to strengthen its power in the fields of peace and security.