While it's not clear why Erdogan left Morocco out of his "African tour" schedule, the Turkish president's trip comes amid perceptible disagreements between Rabat and Ankara.
The two-day visit in Algiers follows an invitation from his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The visit seeks to boost bilateral cooperation.
“The two presidents will discuss ways and means to strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation, in addition to exchanging views on international issues of common interest,” Tebboune’s office has said.
Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul before taking off: “We were together with Mr. Tebboune at the Berlin Conference [on Libya]. We also held bilateral meetings there.”
“We will also have the opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations in detail during our meetings with Mr. president and other officials,” he said.a
In addition to Algeria, the Turkish president will also visit Senegal and Gambia. The trip’s ultimate goal, for Turkey, is to enhance ties with African countries
The Turkish President excluded Morocco from his Africa agenda, despite recent news of a prospective Erdogan visit to the North African kingdom.
Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Moroccan television channel 2M on September 23, 2019 that Erdogan has received an invitation from King Mohammed VI to visit Morocco.
The Turkish official made his statement after a meeting with Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.
Morocco maintains normal diplomatic relations with Turkey. The kingdom, however, condemned military intervention after Turkey announced its decision to deploy its troops in Libya.
“Foreign interventions have only complicated the situation in Libya, removed the potential for a political solution in the country, create internal differences and threatened peace and security in the entire Maghreb,” Rabat had said.
Turkey and Morocco are also reviewing their Free Trade Agreement (FTA), whose terms Rabat now finds more in favor of Ankara. A high-level delegation led by Turkish trade minister arrived in Morocco earlier this month to discuss the deal.
The decision to review the deal comes after Morocco’s Minister of Trade, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, shared concerns about the FTA disadvantages on Morocco’s economy.
Elalamy said Morocco loses $2 billion annually due to its trade deal with Turkey. The minister said that both countries have 15 days to find a solution. Rabat and Ankara might dissolve the FTA, if no agreement is reached by the 15-day deadline.