President Erdoğan Welcomed TİKA Coordinators

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan welcomed the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) coordinators.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said, “The sincere attitude adopted by our country when it comes to development assistance, also attracted the attention of international organizations. While others were laying the groundwork for their political and commercial interests under the pretense of providing assistance, we especially focused on the least developed 47 countries.” In his speech during the reception for the TİKA coordinators at the Presidential Complex, Erdoğan stated that Turkey’s development assistance has reached 170 countries so far. “We do not only help countries with a Muslim population, we also send assistance to suffering and aggrieved non-Muslim countries and we will continue to do so,” said Erdoğan and he explained that TİKA started out by providing development assistance to five Turkic republics, which had gained their independence in Central Asia, and that they have expanded upon this vision.

President Erdoğan declared that they have expanded TİKA’s area of activity from the Balkans to the Middle East, from Africa to Latin America and from South Asia to Pacific and said:  “TİKA, which had completed 2,500 projects in the 10 years before us, now implements 2,000 projects annually. Of course, the projects give a fish where it is necessary, but the general approach is to teach how to fish. Some of the countries we go to are hard to find even on a map. For example, 4 water ambulances were provided to the Solomon Islands in South Pacific to help with access to health services. A 5,000 people capacity stadium was built in Comoros and a primary school was opened in Colombia.”

“80 percent of TİKA’s projects target improving the social infrastructure”

Erdoğan emphasized that TİKA is not an organization that randomly picks its projects or acts with other interests in mind and explained that the human and natural resources of the countries are being considered, and building the most appropriate infrastructure is aimed in the countries they operate in. Erdoğan continued: “This is why 80% of TİKA’s projects target employment, education, health, women, children, communication, in other words, improvement of the social infrastructure. That is why rehabilitation centers for women are being opened in Cambodia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Bangladesh. That is why we opened a mother and child health hospital in Nigeria, a children’s clinic in Macedonia, a bone marrow hospital in Uzbekistan, a maternity hospital in Tunisia.”

“Turkey implemented real environmental protection projects”

Erdoğan underscored that Turkey implemented real environmental protection projects unlike those who show hostility towards all development and improvement activities in the name of environmentalism, and he said that they stood by the people of Uzbekistan with afforestation, agriculture and livestock projects against one of the biggest environmental disasters of the past century, the desiccation of the Aral Sea.

He remarked that they supported children, and took a major step against desertification by planting 100,000 Moringa Oleifera trees in Burkina Faso and continued: “We showed our respect for the past with our restoration projects. Just in the past 3 years, in 18 countries across 3 continents, we started the restoration projects for over 100 works. We did not stay limited to Central Asia when it comes to TİKA’s founding goal of connecting with the Turkic world; we reached out to a wide range of people extending from Gagauzians to Harari people, from Meskhetians to Turkmens. We sent the most important and the most extensive dictionary of the Turkish language to all of the world’s prestigious libraries and universities. There were many other projects as well, such as building a hospital, housing estate and olive oil factory in Gaza and setting up a Turkish village in Sri Lanka.”

Erdoğan also shared information on development assistance provided to Somalia and highlighted that Turkey’s activities in this country displayed a virtually new model of development assistance in the world. Explaining that they responded to the call for aid by Somalia, which suffered a great drought in 2011, to stand by our Somalian friends and brothers, Erdoğan said: “While everybody was witnessing the disaster in Somalia, me, my wife, my children, my friends, all together we flew to Somalia. Terrorism was always a risk... Despite the threats of terrorism, we were there.  We got down to work. We determined what could be done in each area. We joined hands with our state and with our nation to start activities on agriculture, transportation, security and administrative structure that will completely rejuvenate the country. We call the work we do in Somalia, the ‘Turkish development assistance model’” Erdoğan also remarked that he followed TİKA’s iftar dinners and other activities organized all around the world throughout the month of Ramadan with great appreciation.

 “We placed humane diplomacy at the center of our foreign policy”

Erdoğan stressed that when other countries face political, social or economic problems, the first thing they do is to cut development assistance, whereas Turkey does the opposite and continues to increase the development assistance it provides even in the most difficult times, and he said: “Our dearest prophet commands, ‘don't let your left hand know what your right hand gives’. This is the measure. Therefore, without abuse or belittlement, in other words, without humiliation, we looked for ways to cooperate in a totally equal partnership approach. We placed humane diplomacy at the center of our foreign policy. The summits that we host are the clearest expressions of this. These meetings include World Humanitarian Summit 2016, Least Developed Countries Conferences 2011 and 2016, 13th Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, International Somalia Conference and the G20 Summit, where we especially brought up the issues of the least developed countries. The sincere attitude adopted by our country when it comes to development assistance, also attracted the attention of international organizations. While others were laying the groundwork for their political and commercial interests under the pretense of providing assistance, we especially focused on the least developed 47 countries. After the summits, while most countries failed to fulfill their undertakings, between the years 2008 and 2015, we provided assistance worth over 2 billion Dollars to these countries and we went even beyond our promises.  If God permits, we will go on like this. As we make Turkey grow, as our country prospers, we will never lose sight of our attitude of sharing this with those who are suffering and aggrieved.”

“We will never resort to such hypocrisies”

Erdoğan recited Yunus Emre’s verses, “I did not come to fight, my work is with love. A heart makes a good home for a friend, I've come to mend hearts.” and he asked TİKA representatives to find their way into people’s hearts. Erdoğan said: “Let others plot and scheme for their interests, for oil, for mines, for gold, for land, for cheap workforce. We will never resort to such hypocrisies. Whatever we do, we will do sincerely, straight from the heart, we will try to find our way into people’s hearts. We will do it for God. I see each one of our TİKA coordinators as frontiersmen, as vanguard for Turkey’s soft power policy. I see your friends, who are employed as your local personnel, as our fellows and companions in this just cause. First of all, let God be your lover and your helper. I would like to thank our brother Serdar Çam, whose successful deeds we have been following closely over the years, as well as all members of TİKA for the services they provided to our country and for the services they provided on behalf of our nation.” At the event, before the speeches, a video on TİKA’s activities was screened and field representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bangladesh and Jordan gave speeches. Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu, Presidency Secretary General Fahri Kasırga and TİKA President Serdar Çam were also present for the event.