TIKA is the name of love and sharing spreading from Anatolia to the World
Interview with TIKA President Dr. Serdar Çam
TIKA creates approximately 2.000 projects in a year by waving Turkish flag in 140 countries
If there was a moral standing in the world and if the world looked from Turkey’s point of view, many countries could reach the position to help rather than to receive help from past to present.
Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has recently become popular with its activities. Could you please tell us the foundation aim and activities of TIKA?
It is not easy to explain TIKA to Diriliş Postası Newspaper because TIKA carries the same spirit of Diriliş Postası. People who read Diriliş Postası hold similar worldview which steers and supports TIKA. Actually TIKA is the name of love and sharing spreading from our Anatolia to the world. It is an organization with the purpose of lending a hand to Turkic Republics. It is an organization which was founded after the visit of the late President Turgut Özal to Central Asia. It has entered in a different process in the recent decade. Activities in a broad geography have been done by TIKA. TIKA organizes activities to share its opportunities, support development and growth of countries, and create a resistance against exploitation mainly without any interest and any intervention in any domestic policy. Because a constant support for a country is not a straight way. If there was a moral standing in the world, many countries could reach the position to help rather than to receive help from past to present. So TIKA gives sustainable development assistance for countries in order to make new generations possible to use economic benefits and expand their own governments and own capacities.
What is the biggest reason that TIKA has recently expanded its projects and assistance?
I was a firm executive during crisis in February, 2001. I still remember those days. Turkey had a treatment procedure step by step from 2001 to 2005. Financial discipline has been ensured. Economic growth has been provided. Compared to the past; today’s economy is at least three-and-a-half times bigger. Export has grown. We have the 17th biggest economy. We earn something and share it with others. If you get rich, you can expand abroad. In the beginning of 2000s, there was almost no support to abroad. As a country getting credits, debts and supports gave symbolic 40-50 million to abroad. A part of it could be used by TIKA and other organizations. But what we see today is that just our government’s support reached 3.5 billion dollars. Private sector, foundations and NGOs support to abroad approximately 1 billion dollars. The more our economic welfare increases, the more our support grows.
“There is no need to pitch iftar tents in Balkans anymore”
Turkey is not the same with old Turkey in 15 years ago anymore. There is no need to pitch iftar tents in Balkans anymore. We tell and encourage NGOs to make more sustainable and more active projects if they go to Bosnia. In other words, old Turkey has few opportunities. It was able to make Ramadan assistance and it could support just in a kind of way. We always saw the sense of assistance tried to interfere the domestic policy of assistance recipient country. For this reason, while we go abroad, we try to do the necessary of politics and diplomacy in a kindness way without any immorality and offence which could be perceived.
What is the difference of TIKA when we compared to other assistance agencies of developed countries?
If you go there for the purpose of “I came there to blaze a trail, to prepare infrastructure, to energize. But I will take some part of your petroleum, close your forest or mine your gold-diamonds; in other words I will give you one but take 10 from you, it is not assistance but a bargain. It is to take advantage of the situation from a country on its beam ends. We are face to face with a world which has the similar ruses. Turkey shows its difference clearly. Turkey really does not go to Africa with this kind of accounts. For example, Turkey goes to Somalia which starvation, poverty and wars are all around. In a manner of speaking; the country’s future has changed. We have meetings and projects with various assistance agencies and we work together. But thank God we have a moral standing arising from our past, foundation and sharing culture.
What kind of projects does TIKA focus on more?
We make projects over 2 thousands in a year. We start new renovation projects each year. Some finishes, some starts new. Renovation is not just for real works. Not only we restore our historical heritage but also we make works for permanence of the culture coming from that history. For example, while we were renovating 400 years-old dervish lodge, we also carry into effect social responsibility projects for resumption of coffee-making tradition for many centuries or support of people there economically. We also have so many similar cultural activities, training works and art. We have carried out various large and small projects over 15 thousands in the last decade. We put into practice projects including education, health, irrigation works, agriculture, livestock and tourism. We bring approximately 3 thousands executers to Turkey every year or our experts go abroad for capacity training works.
Turkey’s flag is waving in 140 countries by way of TIKA. We build bridges between all countries we went. There were lots of countries which did not know Turkey’s location. Now authorities of those countries come to Turkey to express their gratitude for our helps and supports. Now we are in a point that people send us photos on social media like “there is a problem there. Why did not TIKA turn a hand there?” Today there is an idea of “I give you money. You have to serve to me with my taxes. Why do you help others” in many countries but it is totally opposite in our country, there is a national awareness for how to increase supports more. It is one of evidences that Turkey is a world state. Also we have a sharing culture. No matter how poor Anatolian people are, they think the more they make somebody eat or drink, the more they become happier. Apart from this, we unfairly had to leave so many geographies in the past. Now we go certain places to be together with a great hope, great enthusiasm. For example, while we go to Palestine, Gaza, Ramallah, Sarajevo, we do not feel that we have been going to somewhere else. They are like a part of our houses. Geography of our hearts is unbelievably broad. We do not go these places with hegemonic logic but with emotionally and spiritual closeness. I think that it is the first time our country had the power to reach Asia, Caucasus, Balkans, Africa and Latin America after suffers lasting three centuries.
You went lots of places in the concept of TIKA. Which project did you impress at the most?
Because we live in a broad geography, we leave our heart there when we go back. Especially happiness in people’s faces that live hard places impresses me a lot. 2 years ago, there was a meeting in Sweden. It has one of the highest welfare levels. Amazing infrastructure, a modern world… 2-3 days later we went to Niger, one of the poorest country of the world. While we were watching around from terrace of a building, evening adhan started to be recited. A mother would bake bread with collected bush woods in the quad. I witnessed her children’s happiness around her. I could not help but compared there with Sweden when I saw the happiness of people. Cafes, restaurants are urbanized but life is hard because of wild and emotionless atmosphere of Capitalism and a modest life here is here.
TIKA has been criticized by some focuses. For example, there were various indictments about our projects in Kosovo. What are justifications of them?
Surely it is pretty misery and serious situation. We might not understand how these works mean very well. But we really feel sad on behalf of our country when we went abroad and saw the size of attacks and betrayal. We talk about an organization called “cemaat” (community) which pulled up alongside of powerful politicians and caught prestigious positions in many field. Many areas were given to them due to Turkey, opportunities were provided, children of politicians were sent their children to these schools, their activities were allowed.
At this point, we are face to face with communities thinking “if they treat you as an enemy; your enemy is our enemy”. We face with an attack which intents to systematically debase our country in particular with articles, columns, falsified and libelous news of them in foreign languages. For example; a Ugandan citizen wanted to wave Turkish flag to protest so-called Armenian genocide allegation in Uganda but this organization members said “no!” As you see, there is a mechanism which has no national sense and tries to indecently collapse the government and bring harm. Everybody notices it and other countries started to take measures against them.
We as an organization possibly try to carry out works to fill gaps in places we go. We establish schools where we go and also give a trainer upon their request. They pretend as if they helped people but countries there also noticed it was not real. We have aggression because we noticed the reality. They found NGOs; build an association for businessmen but there is no businessman apparently. In addition; it has come to light that schools are also just an image, they just behave well to children of those who behaves elitist approaches, take just care of deputies’ and leaders’ children. They do not care the rest. We as TIKA also do our civic duty to protect our country from the wrong track. Making news with full of mistakes under the title of “Turkey supports ISIS” about a non-governmental organization is the highest point of immorality. This instigator cannot be accepted.
Reporter: Ömer Çetres form Diriliş Postası Newspaper