The two-state policy of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus continues to gain new ground. On Wednesday, 30 November, the TRNC President Ersin Tatar received the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia, Badara Alieu Joof, in the TRNC White House in Lefkoşa.
The official meeting, which included the display of the flags of each country, was centred on deepening cooperation in a host of areas, including tourism, business and education.
Mr Joof expressed his “full solidarity and support” to the TRNC. He conveyed greetings from The Gambian President, Adama Barrow, while extending an official invitation to President Tatar to visit Gambia.
President Ersin Tatar welcomed Vice President Joof and his delegation to the TRNC, and acknowledged the significance of their meeting, stating “today is an important day for us”.
Drawing attention to the TRNC’s efforts to integrate with the rest of the world, President Tatar told VP Joof: “We place great importance on your visit to the TRNC and welcome the solidarity and support you have expressed to the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriot People.
“I wholeheartedly wish to express the mutual affection and brotherly feelings we share for The Gambia, and share the view that our two countries should deepen our relationship. . .in the field of international relations, tourism, culture, business and higher education.”
The President welcomed the invitation to visit The Gambia, and expressed his belief that the two countries’ Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs will serve as a bridge to deepen relations and build trust between the two countries.
VP Joof thanked President Tatar for receiving the delegation and noted that many Gambian students were in the TRNC for their higher education. He said The Gambia values the TRNC and is keen to deepen cooperation between the two countries not only in education, but also in other fields such as international relations, tourism and culture.
The Gambian Vice President also stated that “our foreign policy is not dictated by others,” perhaps in anticipation of what others may say about the African country officially engaging the politically isolated TRNC.
About the Republic of The Gambia
The Gambia is located in western Africa, with Banjul (called Bathurst until 1973) its capital. It is situated on the Atlantic coast and occupies a long narrow strip of land that surrounds the Gambia River. The country is surrounded by neighbouring state Senegal.
The country is one of the African continent’s smallest. It is home to an estimated population of 2,785,000 people. As a former British colony, The Gambia’s official language is English.
Similar to those in Senegal, the major ethnic groups in The Gambia are the majority Malinke and also include Wolof, Fulani (Fulbe), Diola (Jola), and Soninke peoples.
There are no current figures, but data from 2013 shows that the vast majority (around 95%) are Muslim, with Christianity the second biggest faith (3.5%). The country’s society is roughly split two thirds urban to one third rural.
The Gambian economy is heavily dependent on peanut (groundnut) production and export. Its biggest trading partners before the coronavirus pandemic were China, India, Vietnam and South Korea, which between them receive 74% of Gambia’s exports.
The country is also known for its beaches along its Atlantic coastline and for being home to Jufureh (Juffure), the reputed ancestral village of Kunta Kinte, the main character in Alex Haley’s well-known novel and television series Roots.