TİKA’s Deputy President Kayalar said, “A total of 90 historical buildings, especially mosques, tombs, madrasahs, clock towers, castles, Turkish baths, complexes, and fountains, have been restored and renovated since 2011.”
Stating that Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) has carried out nearly 30,000 projects and activities across 5 continents with its 62 Program Coordination Offices in 60 countries, TİKA’s Deputy President Serkan Kayalar said, “We provide assistance by prioritizing the needs without expecting anything in return or having any secret agenda.”
Speaking to an AA correspondent on the occasion of TİKA’s 28th anniversary, Kayalar commented on TİKA’s activities all around the world in various fields.
Reminding that many countries gained independence in Central Asia and the Caucasus when the Soviet Union dissolved on December 25, 1991, Kayalar said that Turkey was the first country to recognize the Turkic Republics that declared independence during this period.
Kayalar noted that there was a need for an organization to carry out activities in the region, adopt the priorities of Turkey’s foreign policy, and coordinate these efforts and that within this framework, TİKA was established as an organization affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pursuant to the Decree of the Council of Ministers dated January 24, 1992.
Kayalar summarized TİKA’s objectives in those years as enabling the Turkic Republics to create their own social structures and develop their own identity in a healthy manner, improving cultural cooperation with these countries, and providing technical infrastructure support. He stated that TİKA was entrusted to the Prime Ministry in 1999 and that it has been operating under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism since the transition to the Presidential System.
Stressing that there have been significant changes in Turkey’s foreign policy since the 2000s as a result of its aim of becoming an important actor both in the world and in its region, Kayalar said, “Within this framework, TİKA expanded its area of activity and increased the number of its Program Coordination Offices, which was 12 in 2002, to 25 in 2011 and 33 in 2012. TİKA operates on 5 continents with its 62 Program Coordination Offices in 60 countries. Since its establishment in 1992, TİKA has carried out approximately 30,000 projects and activities in nearly 170 countries on 5 continents. The fact that approximately 90% of these projects were implemented after 2002 indicates how much TİKA’s efficiency has increased.”
“90 historical buildings have been restored and renovated since 2011”
Commenting on TİKA’s restoration activities, Kayalar said, “A total of 90 historical buildings, especially mosques, tombs, madrasahs, clock towers, castles, Turkish baths, complexes, and fountains, have been restored and renovated since 2011.”
He stated that these activities include the restorations of the 500-year Ketchaoua Mosque, which is the symbol of Algeria’s struggle for independence; the Drina Bridge (Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge), which is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bascarsija in Sarajevo; and the Ram Fortress in Serbia. He added that TİKA has also carried out remarkable activities such as the restoration of the Tombs of King Najashi and His Companions in Ethiopia, excavations in search of the Tomb of Suleiman the Magnificent in Hungary, and the preservation of the Orkhon and Bilge Tonyukuk Monuments in Mongolia.
“We provide assistance by prioritizing the needs without any secret agenda”
Noting that TİKA is one of the pioneers of the Turkish-Type Development Assistance Model, Kayalar said, “TİKA makes its mark in the international arena with its people-oriented, non-discriminatory, sincere, transparent, rapid, and solution-oriented Turkish-Type development cooperation model, which is based on equal relations and partnership, considers the priorities and needs of countries, and respects the environment, local cultures, and national values.”
Underlining that TİKA reaches even the most remote corners of the world, Kayalar added, “TİKA competes with its long-established foreign counterparts, which were founded much earlier, with modest resources. In an environment where so-called developed countries try to derive political or commercial benefits under the cover of aid, it develops sustainable projects that touch people’s lives directly without expecting anything in return.”
Stressing that the most important characteristic of TİKA that separates it from its counterparts around the world is its direct response to demand, Kayalar said, “We do not do anything that the country where we operate does not want. We do not impose anything in return for the project. As TİKA, no matter where we are, we implement projects ourselves rather than offering direct financial support. Therefore, unlike foreign institutions, we ensure that our projects directly benefit those in need.
While carrying out development projects in various social, economic, and cultural fields in the regions in need, we try to win hearts like contemporary Alperens (combatants), as our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated. We provide assistance by prioritizing the needs without expecting anything in return or having any secret agenda.”
“We carried out nearly 2,000 projects and activities last year”
Commenting on TİKA’s projects and activities last year, Kayalar said, “Last year, we reached more than 100 countries and carried out nearly 2,000 projects and activities in the fields of education, health, infrastructure, restoration, and cultural and humanitarian assistance.”
Noting that they primarily focused on the nearby and neighboring regions and on countries in need that have been exploited for many years, Kayalar added, “Last year, we enabled nearly 100,000 students to benefit from educational services through 346 education projects. We gave hope to more than 900,000 people by implementing 142 healthcare projects. We provided vocational training to nearly 5000 doctors, public personnel, and specialists and contributed to the development of human resource capacity and the quality of life.”
Kayalar stated that during the last Ramadan, they held iftar dinners and provided food aid to those in need, especially victims of terrorism, orphans, and Turkic groups, in 150 cities in more than 50 countries, from Africa to South America, Asia and the Balkans.
“We have approximately 120 important projects ready for inauguration in nearly 35 countries”
Mentioning TİKA’s prestigious projects, Kayalar said, “We have approximately 120 important projects ready for inauguration in nearly 35 countries. Although most of these projects are in the Balkans, they are scattered across a wide region from Africa to Central Asia and South America.”
Kayalar stated that these projects include the restoration of the Kayseri Bazaar in Kirkuk and Sheikh Abdulkadir Geylani Complex in Baghdad, Iraq, the restoration and landscaping of the Tomb of King Najashi in Ethiopia, Palestine-Turkey Friendship Hospital and the Turkish houses in Gaza, Palestine, Niger-Turkey Friendship School and Friendship Park, and Niger-Turkey Friendship Hospital.
TİKA’s Deputy President Kayalar added that numerous prestigious projects are underway including the construction of the Girls’ Dormitory in the University of Jerusalem in Palestine, the construction of the Islamic Cultural Center in Sisak, Croatia, equipment of the Medgidia Hospital in Romania, the Gjirokaster Boys’ Dormitory in Albania, the restoration of the Sultan’s Mosque and the Halveti Teqe in Berat, Albania, the restoration of the Elci İbrahim Pasha’s Madrasah in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the installation of the flood early-warning systems in Pakistan.
Kayalar said that the construction, landscaping, display, and organization of the Bilge Tonyukuk Museum in Mongolia, the restoration of the Imam Al-adham Abu Hanifa Complex in Iraq, and the construction of the Islamabad Center of Excellence in Pakistan were among the prestigious projects planned to be implemented.
Stressing that TİKA aims to increase the number of its projects for the preservation of cultural properties in line with Turkey’s targets for 2023, Kayalar said, “In this context, TİKA aims to carry out 51 new restoration projects from 2020 to 2023, including 20 in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, 4 in East and South Asia-Pacific and Latin America, 17 in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and 10 in the Middle East and Africa.”
Stating that TİKA will continue its activities to strengthen the infrastructure of cultural facilities, Kayalar added, “In this context, we aim to implement 190 projects for the construction, equipment, and renovation of cultural facilities from 2020 to 2023. TİKA will continue to support cultural events and programs with artistic, cultural, and academic content. It aims to implement 955 projects in this field from 2020 to 2023.”
“We are planning to open TİKA’s 63rd office in Nigeria”
Reminding that the Nicosia Program Office, TİKA’s 62nd office, was inaugurated in the TRNC in December 2019 with the participation of the Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Kayalar said, “In the future, we want to implement many concrete projects that will touch lives, support production sectors, and contribute to the development of the TRNC. We have started to work on this subject.”
Underlining that TİKA contributes to the improvement of Turkey’s relations with the neighboring and nearby regions and friendly countries through development projects, Kayalar said, “In this sense, we consider offices to be opened in line with Turkey’s foreign policy and needs. We are planning to open our 63rd office in Nigeria, Africa. Nigeria has a very important location in Africa.”