“The Ivory Coast is a safe haven and a roof as a shelter for these people,” Erdogan, who is on an official visit to the West African country, said late Sunday.
Erdogan said that immigrants, who make up over 11 percent of the population, “are not seen as a burden and a problem,” adding that they were a symbol of the country’s “understanding”.
The Turkish president arrived in the country late Sunday at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and his spouse Dominique Ouattara, gave an official reception in honor of Erdogan and his spouse Emine Erdogan at the Sofitel Hotel in Abidjan, the country’s capital.
During his speech, Erdogan emphasized that he is the first Turkish president to ever visit the Ivory Coast.
“I like to call it the 'Ivory Coast model,” Erdogan said, referring to the huge migrant population in the country.
“I want that this situation will be an example for all continents and all countries across the world. We are also hosting our three million Syrian and Iraqi brothers and sisters who fled from their conflicts without any discrimination of religion, language and ethnic background,” Erdogan said.
He also said Abidjan and Istanbul have significant potential for business cooperation.
Turkish Airlines launched its first flights to Abidjan in 2013. The flights are being operated four times per week but Erdogan said that they wanted to see direct flights every day.
Erdogan also said that Turkey recorded an increase of about 17 percent in Turkish/Ivorian trade volume from $330 million [end-2014] to $390 million [end-2015], adding that Turkey and the Ivory Coast are to boost economic trade volume to $1 billion by 2020.
The Turkish head of state will also attend a Turkey-Ivory Coast Business Forum before going on to Ghana, Nigeria and Guinea during his West Africa tour.
He launched his sub-Saharan Africa tour with a visit to Senegal last month.