16 Nisan 2011 Cumartesi

Turkish development aid volume jumps in one year

Turkey’s international development aid has reached a total volume of $967 million, increasing by 23.8 percent since last year and surpassing many European countries, according to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. Leading experts agree that Turkish international aid is correlated with its new escalating role in global politics and economics.

Turkey contributed $967 million in aid while the total aid from all donor countries totaled $129 billion in 2010, according to the report prepared by OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, or DAC. Turkey has exceeded the average growth of 6.5 percent of DAC member countries by 23.8 percent.

European Union members of the DAC provided a total of $70.2 billion, and Turkey outpaced Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Poland, Hungary and Luxembourg, according to DAC figures.

“Turkey’s contribution to international aid has a lot to do with its increasing role in global economics and politics,” said Veysel Ayhan, advisor at the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies, or ORSAM.

“Most of the aid has been sent to conflict regions, such as Palestine, Lebanon and Yemen, and in turn, Turkey has boosted its soft power in these regions,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

According to Ayhan, Turkey’s contribution to international aid correlated with Turkey’s attempt to build its role and influence in conflict regions. Ayhan said, in relation to Turkey’s aid to Haiti after the earthquake of January last year, the country was spreading an important message to the world, “It showed the world that Turkey is keen to help a non-Muslim society in crisis time,” he said.

Turkey provided $1 million of financial aid to Haiti last year according to an official statement of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including four military planes carrying a rescue team of 10 personnel and a total of 40 tons of humanitarian aid.

“Turkey has not used the instrument of aid efficiently for many years in international politics,” Ayhan told the Daily News, adding that he expects Turkey to increase the volume of international aid in the future. “Turkey changes the perceptions of the locals living in conflict areas through aid and opens the doors for Turkish firms to flock into the market.”

African interest

“If you are claiming that you are a real power you need to show this with your checkbook,” said Dr. Mensur Akgün, director of the Global Political Trends Center, or GPOT. “A couple of years ago, there was no Turkish interest in Africa,” he told the Daily Dews in a recent interview, adding that the country had become more active in the global and political economy in recent years.” he said.

In addition to official international aid by the Turkish government, many humanitarian foundations work collaboratively to collect donations for African states. “Turkey is building its reputation,” added Akgün.
“Turkey has turned into a real donor country,” said Cengiz Aktar, an Associate Professor at the European Union Relations Department of Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul. “Turkey was a receiver of international financial support for a long time, but this has changed rapidly in recent years.”

According to Aktar, the figures of DAC represent the official donations of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency, or TIKA. “The increase rate of 23.8 in international aid is normal for Turkey as the country has been recently increasing the total volume of donation,” he said.

Crisis-hit EU members 

Crisis-hit Greece has decreased the total amount of its donations from $607 million to $500 million last year. Ireland also has also decreased the total amount of donation from nearly $1 billion to $895 million in 2010. Hungary donated in 2010 almost the same volume as its previous year with $378 million. Still, Portugal, the latest country to request a European Union bailout, increased the volume of its donations from $513 million to $648 million in 2010. Poland has increased its volume to $378 from $378 million last year.

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