Address on the African Renaissance at the University of Bosphorus, Istanbul
15 October 2003

Honourable Chair,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour to address this august audience on the topic of the African Renaissance and the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the latter also commonly known as NEPAD.

I am mindful of the rich and ancient history of Turkey, which has spanned the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe. It is therefore appropriate that we discuss the revival of the African continent on these shores today.

Honourable Chair,

The African Renaissance entails the reclaiming of the heritage of the people of the African continent and the socio-economic and political renewal of Africa. The collapse of the apartheid regime and the democratisation of South Africa in 1994 revived the call for the renewal of Africa.

This call coincided with the ascendancy of a new progressive leadership in Africa who are committed to the revitalisation of Africa so that Africa can take its rightful place in international affairs. These leaders have decided that Africans themselves will no longer charter from the future of Africa outside Africa.

The vision of the African Renaissance acted as a catalyst for the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) into the current continental body, the African Union (AU), which was launched in South Africa in July 2002.

The AU is the vehicle for the greater social, political and economic integration of Africa. In this regard, there are similarities with the European Union's (EU) objectives in the European context.

Honourable Chair,

When we speak of an African Renaissance, we mean the ending of poverty and underdevelopment and the reconstruction of a better life for all. African Renaissance also entails the reaffirmation of our pride as Africans with a culture and identity that define our collective humanity and humaneness.

The African Renaissance provides a philosophical framework for Africans in the continent and those in the Diaspora within which to define themselves.

The African Renaissance also advances the spirit of Pan-Africanism, which emanates from the vision of the great sons of Africa, such as prominent African Diaspora leader W.E.B. Du Bois; Pixley ka Isaka Seme; Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana; Haile Selassie of Ethiopia; Julius Nyerere of Tanzania; Albert Luthuli; Oliver Tambo and former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, amongst others.

As Africans, we have taken a conscious position to design and implement our own plan with programmes that will restore Africa to its rightful place in the global political, security and economic system, against the background of this philosophy of the African Renaissance.

African Renaissance is a fundamental transformation that is anchored in the principles of African ownership and leadership, self-reliance as well as a new partnership with the developed and developing world, which is based on mutual respect, responsibility and accountability. Africans firmly believe that the establishment of the AU and the adoption of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, (NEPAD), constitute historic landmarks in the social, political and economic development of Africa.

The Constitutive Act of the AU provides for greater political unity and integration and commits African countries to principles of democracy, human rights, good governance, gender equality and people-centred development.

South Africa had the honour of being the first Chair of the African Union and has handed over the Chair to Mozambique at the Second AU Summit held in Maputo in July 2003.

The AU has prioritised peace and security and the ending of conflicts on the continent, for there can be no African Renaissance while conflicts ravage parts of the continent. This is illustrated by the AU's involvement in peacekeeping and peacemaking missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Ethiopia/Eritrea and Liberia. You would be aware of South Africa's contribution to these missions.

The AU, through the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) process, is also involved in resolving the long-standing conflict in the Sudan. The African Union is also assisting in the democratisation process in the Comoros.

Honourable Chair,

A key part of the African Renaissance is the drive to achieve sustainable development in Africa, to extricate the continent from a cycle of poverty and underdevelopment, through NEPAD.

The policy framework of NEPAD has two major pillars - one is internally focussed whilst the other is focussed on partnership with the rest of the world. The internal focus includes the consolidation of democracy and good governance, adoption of successful developmental practices and the strengthening of Intra-African economic integration.

The external focus is aimed at addressing the inequitable international world order that continues to undermine Africa's developmental effort. The recent events at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha Development Round talks in Cancun, Mexico, are a stark reminder of this reality and the need for countries, both in the developed and developing worlds, to stand together to change this state of affairs.

NEPAD has been endorsed by the international community as the socio-economic development programme for Africa.

Naturally, the comparative advantages of each African country and sub-region will determine the priority areas on which they will focus. But NEPAD provides a common vision for transforming the whole continent towards a common direction and goal.

Similarly, each international organisation and development partner will focus on those priority areas of NEPAD where they enjoy comparative advantages. In this regard, the G8 countries, in consultation with Africa, have developed the G8 Action Plan for Africa.

Likewise, NEPAD is emerging as a major mechanism for South-South co-operation and partnership; for example, the China-Africa Forum and the Asian African Sub-regional Organisations Conference (AASROC) between the African Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In addition to the priority areas already mentioned, NEPAD includes an innovative mechanism, namely the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which is intended to assist countries through the sharing of experiences, information and best practices to ensure good governance and sustainable development. Sixteen African countries have voluntarily indicated they would participate in a peer review. A fifteen-member Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC), constituted from AU member states, oversees the NEPAD implementation process.

The Implementation is moving at great speed and information on NEPAD projects is available through the South African embassy in Ankara.

Honourable Chair, given Turkey's geo-strategic location, it is not surprising that Turkey has maintained strong historical relations with Africa. The first Turkish diplomatic mission in Sub-Saharan Africa was established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as far back as 1926.

It is important to us that this country maintains twelve diplomatic missions in Africa and that there are plans to expand the Africa-Turkey relationship as spelled out in Turkey's Action Plan of Opening up to Africa adopted in 1998.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Turkey's important contribution to the advancement of the African Renaissance.

Turkey has participated in the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa, for example in Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Angola, Rwanda, Central African Republic and Western Sahara.

I would also like to express Africa's appreciation for the contribution of the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilay) to international aid campaigns in support of the African continent.

Africa is also aware of Turkey's expressed support for developmental finance for NEPAD within the context of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). We look forward to Turkey's involvement and active participation in the various NEPAD projects.

We believe we are breathing life into the ideals of the founding fathers of Africa. They had a vision of an Africa whose peoples would be free from conflict and suffering, poverty, disease and whose right to human dignity would be restored and respected.

We believe the road to achieving these goals is paved with opportunities and possibilities, and that given the vision and programmes that are in place or being developed, the African Renaissance will be achieved in our lifetime.

We trust that you will continue to travel with us on this journey of building a new Africa.

I thank you

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