Turkey has come a long way in terms of development aid. These aids, achieved through rapidly increasing budgets, have greatly contributed to Turkey’s emerging role as a donor. In this context, Bridging South-South Cooperation and Emerging Donor Roles: Strengthen Turkey’s Participation in International Development Cooperation project, in partnership with UNDP Turkey Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), aims to strengthen Turkey’s national capacity by increasing the capacity of TIKA, an institution that coordinates the development efforts in Turkey. We as New Horizons spoke with TIKA President Musa Kulaklıkaya about TIKA’s recent activities in terms of Turkey’s emerging donor status, capacity development and South-South Cooperation project.
What can you say about the institutional existence of TIKA? To be more concise, what is TIKA’s, Turkey’s main institution on development, regional role beyond the borders?
TIKA has the capacity to coordinate many other comprehensive aid institutions in Turkey. This coordination task has been assigned to our institution by the Prime Ministry in 2004. Our geography of activities are Central Asia, Caucasia, Middle East, Balkans and Africa; regions which we share language and culture. Initially we are providing aid to countries with mutual historical, political and cultural backgrounds. These common backgrounds let us answer the needs of these countries much more expeditiously, and this created a nice synergy. As a result of our aid and efforts we possess a tangible presence in the regions where we operate. For example, the total of aid provided in Turkey, in 2008 has reached 780 million dollars. In 2005 however, this figure was a mere 339 million dollars. As we increase our development aid efforts, Turkey in general terms and TIKA in specific terms continues the role of emerging donor in the region.
As we know Turkey is a founding member of Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In terms of Turkey’s cooperation with developing countries, is there an effort to become a member of OECD’s most important body Developmental Aid Committee (DAC)?
First of all, we as Turkey do not have any problems in terms of DAC membership criteria. DAC membership requires annual development aid of 100 million dolars. As of now, Turkey has surpassed these criteria. Therefore, Turkey is at a position to be a member of DAC but since political will concerning the issue has not been established, we did not get involved with the required preview process. One can initiate the preview process without the intentions of becoming a member; however, we will complete a different version of this process as a part of the South-South Cooperation Project in partnership with UNDP.
If we take a look at agreements framing international development efforts such as the Paris Declaration, Doha Agreement, Monterrey Consensus, and Accra Agenda for Action, how does TIKA corrolate with these elements?
It is our priority to establish our development strategies by following the international progress on development. As TIKA, we are trying to be a part of all initiatives in this context. We follow all UN and OECD conferences. There’s even a policy dialogue on development and cooperation started through our initiative which aims to host conferences to establish policies between DAC members and non-members. The first one was hosted in Istanbul in 2006. The 4th one will be hosted in Mexico, September 28-29 this year. But there is an aspect where we should reevaluate ourselves: Generally the UN encourages multi-lateral aids. We on the other hand prefer bi-lateral aid efforts, at least for now. More than 90% of our aid efforts are bi-lateral. But in terms of the general international principles you mentioned, we see ourselves as an institution that very compatible and well aware of international developments.
If we return to the topic of South-South Cooperation Project, what do you think this project will contribute to TIKA?
As you know the general conception is that aids flow from North to the South. Therefore this idea aims to create grounds where middle income countries can be a part of the aid efforts. Our goal is to contribute more to the South-South Cooperation Project through activities as a part of this program. In this context, a conference on gender was held in Istanbul last year. Second one will be held in December and it will be about e-government applications. This is another contribution that we expect.
What do you think are TIKA’s priorities on capacity development? In which areas is capacity development needed the most?
TIKA’s activities and fields of activity are growing but its organizational structure is not growing in parallel. Accordingly, we wish for an organizational structure that will work more efficiently against the increasing work-load demand. We are also conducting legislative precedings on the matter. Our main aim is to establish an active and effective organizational structure. We do not have a mecanism that tests the effectiveness of aids within the context of the principles we talked about. Our second aim is to create a system that proves our effectiveness through scientific methods. We have already concluded our initial meetings with the UNDP about the matter.
Generally speaking what are your expectations from this capacity development project? What do you think will change in TIKA as a result of this capacity development?
No external division has ever evaluated TIKA. This is what we are trying to do right now. Evaluate the effetiveness of our work through an external objective perspective. We would like to improve in terms of utilizing effective resources and experts, and we expect our experts to improve their own capacities in this context. Another field of activity that we believe to be important is the establishment of a “Talent Bank”. Talent Bank, a programme utilized by the UN, will be adapted to the conditions of Turkey to make it possible for all sector experts to compile their resumes in one central databank. Sometimes international organizations demand experts from us. Thanks to the Talent Bank, experts in Turkey will be able to promote themselves to abroad, and we will help Turkey find demand in search for experts.
Finally, what kind of challenges within the institution do you plan to overcome with this project?
In a sense we are going to make sure that our employees receive a report on the things they have done. I think this will help boost motivation. I believe that our employees facing promotion anxieties will be more motivated through a change in the hierarchical structure of the institution. In short, I believe it to be a process that will motivate both the institution and its personnel.
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