Lesotho-Turkey to revive economic deal

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Bereng Mpaki

THE Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lesego Makgothi says Lesotho and Turkey are committed to implementing the Economic Cooperation Agreement that the two countries signed in 2016.

Mr Makgothi said this in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week in the wake of his visit to Turkey from 20 to 22 March.

During his visit, Mr Makgothi held bilateral discussions with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu which centred on the implementation of the stalled deal which was signed during the tenure of the former seven parties’ coalition government that was headed by Dr Pakalitha Mosisili.

The economic cooperation agreement is aimed at strengthening trade between the two countries and enable Lesotho to expand and diversify its products and services.

The bi-lateral economic agreement also provides for the establishment of a bi-national commission, which would meet periodically to assess the economic cooperation between the two countries. However, the commission has not been established to date.

Mr Makgothi expressed optimism that this would soon change, saying they agreed during his visit to work on implementing the economic cooperation agreement.

He blamed the previous government for failing to ensure its implementation.

“After the agreement was signed, it was not implemented, particularly on our side,” Mr Makgothi said.

“During my visit to Turkey, we agreed on the modalities of operationalising it in the shortest possible time.”

He said they also agreed to open embassies in both countries to support the implementation of the agreement. Currently, Lesotho and Swaziland are served by the Turkish embassy which is situated in Pretoria, South Africa.

Last September, Turkey’s Ambassador to Lesotho, Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen told this publication that her country would open a separate embassy in Lesotho rather operate from South Africa.

Ambassador Çomoğlu Ülgen said the move would strengthen diplomatic ties, increase the level of development cooperation and boost economic partnerships.

She said there was a long history of Turkey-Lesotho relations dating back to 1995, adding that her country expected development cooperation and boost economic partnerships to accelerate once the Turkish government opened a separate embassy in Maseru.

In another development, Mr Makgothi and his Turkish counterpart signed a Memorandum of Understanding on political consultation and the training of diplomats of Lesotho by Turkey.

 

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