IEMed Mediterranean Yearbook 2008


Panorama: The Mediterranean Year

Economy and Territory

Culture and Society


An Emerging Donor in the Mediterranean Basin: Turkey

Musa Kulaklikaya


Ali Aybey

Technical Assistance Expert
Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), Ankara

Turkey’s development assistance to other countries dates back to the 1980s. The first official provision of assistance was to Sub-Saharan Africa which was hit by drought in 1985. The assistance which was approved by the government was the food aid worth US$10 million. Since then, Turkey’s status changed progressively from an aid-recipient country to a net donor. Turkey still receives and provides assistance simultaneously. For this reason, the term “net donor” is used as Turkey disburses more than she receives.

Nowadays, there are several actors within the government as far as development assistance is concerned (see Chart 1). Besides these government institutions, NGOs, universities and other charity organizations have become active in recent years and the scope of their activities has been growing at a rapid pace.

CHART 1 Inter-Organizational Structure of Turkey’s Development Assistance

Maintaining coordination between all these actors is very important in preventing duplications as well as attaining maximum efficiency. The political coordination of such activities of all governmental institutions is maintained by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while technical coordination is carried out by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA). TIKA not only maintains technical coordination, but also provides development assistance itself via development and implementation of projects and programmes.

As for humanitarian assistance, the Turkish Red Crescent Society is actively involved in mobilizing emergency assistance to the countries or societies that are affected by natural or man-made disasters. Its counterpart within the government structure is the General Directorate of Emergency Management which operates directly under the control of the Prime Ministry. Humanitarian assistance, however, is outside the scope of this article as it is not considered as part of development assistance.

About TIKA


Turkish development assistance was institutionalized with the establishment of TIKA in 1992 under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a period that also saw the dissolution of the Soviet Union as well as the disintegration of the Yugoslav Republic. Later on, in 1999 TIKA became affiliated to the Prime Ministry so as to function quickly and effectively. This change provided flexibility in implementing projects, and TIKA’s activities became more visible both at the domestic and international level.

The initial flow of aid was provided following the demand by partner countries, initially to neighbouring and surrounding countries as well as the Central Asian Republics, with which Turkey has close historical and cultural ties. The main objective of TIKA was to assist the newly independent countries in their efforts to align with the market economy as well as with global politics. This initial objective then changed in recent years. Reflecting on the requests from the Balkan countries, TIKA enlarged its scope of activities towards the Balkans. Feeling the responsibility to respond to the requests of developing countries, this scope was enlarged by the inclusion of Middle Eastern and African countries.

By the end of 2007, the number of Program Coordination Offices of TIKA reached 22 in 20 countries and regions, namely in Afghanistan (3), Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Palestine, Senegal, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine (Crimea) and Uzbekistan.Apart from these countries, TIKA operates through Turkish Embassies or in cooperation with the international donor community. Therefore the number of countries whose citizens benefited from the TIKA projects and programmes has reached over 100 in 2007.


While providing development assistance to partner countries, TIKA aims to provide sustainable social and economic development as well as to align its projects with the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations (MDGs). Another important objective for TIKA is to support capacity-building activities in partner countries by developing human resources.

In its efforts to provide development assistance to partner countries, TIKA favours a partner-country centred approach. The needs and priorities of these countries are taken very seriously into consideration during project development phases. While doing so, partner countries are also expected and encouraged to provide some input for the projects to be implemented. This input could be cash or in kind contribution and generally forms a very little part of the project budget. This approach not only provides active participation by the partner country, but also ensures ownership of the project when it is completed and handed over. For this reason, projects are developed to be sustainable and flexible so as to fit with the conditions of partner countries. Moreover, while undertaking such projects, TIKA attributes importance to maintaining coordination with the international donor community to prevent duplications and attain efficiency.

There are several methods that TIKA utilises for undertaking projects and programmes in partner countries, such as providing capacity-building assistance (institutional and human resources); dispatching experts; donating equipment; financing infrastructure projects; financing construction/renovation activities; and extending humanitarian assistance.

Developments in 2007

2007 was an important year in regards to Turkish development assistance. Not only were there developments in terms of development cooperation, but also important institutional changes.

Turkish Official Development Assistance

The technical coordination of Turkish development assistance and the duty of reporting Turkish Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) were given to TIKA in 2005 by a Prime Ministerial decree. In 2005, the first study was undertaken by TIKA for the year 2004, including the collection of data from all development assistance actors within Turkey. As a result of this study, Turkish ODA was calculated as US$339 million in 2004. This figure was followed by similar increases in 2005 and 2006, having ODA amounts of US$601 million and US$714 million respectively (see Chart 2). It is important to note here that these figures do not include the amounts disbursed by non-state actors such as NGOs.

CHART 2 Turkish ODA in 2004-2006

This steady increase in the Turkish ODA is mainly due to the comprehensive data collection methods applied by TIKA. Every year, the number of reports filed by the developmental actors in Turkey is increasing and TIKA utilises these data to show the real track record of Turkish ODA. However, it cannot be said that the increase in Turkish ODA is solely based on these comprehensive data collection methods. As a matter of fact, there is an actual increase in the budget for development assistance activities in real terms. The government is increasing the budget of TIKA year by year as well as authorising TIKA for the use of funds allocated within the framework of Turkey’s commitments made at international donor conferences.

One of the important indicators of ODA is its share in the Gross National Income (GNI) of a country. According to the United Nations, in order to attain the internationally agreed development goals by the year 2015, donor countries should disburse 0.7% of their GNI as ODA. However, even the members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD who are providing around 90% of the total ODA disbursed worldwide have not attained this level so far. As for Turkey’s record on this issue, it was 0.18% for the year 2006. Notably, this ratio is above the level set by the European Union (EU) as a medium target (0.17%) to be reached by 2010 by the new members that joined the Union after 2004. Chart 3 compares Turkish ODA/GNI ratio with that of EU members.

CHART 3 ODA/GNI Ratio of EU Members and of Turkey for 2006

Source: Data for the donors are for 2006 and taken from the “OECD Development Cooperation Report 2007”. Data was not available for those EU members not mentioned in the chart

Besides this achievement, it also came out that Turkey’s development cooperation activities are compatible with the EU. This fact was also stated in the “Turkey 2007 Progress Report” of the European Commission as “Turkey’s level of alignment [with the EU] in the field of development and humanitarian policy is satisfactory.”

Turkish Development Assistance Report 2006

As mentioned above, TIKA undertakes the assessment of a year’s performance in the following year. The ODA data for the year 2006 was reported to the OECD and the figures were also analysed in a report, which was published in late 2007. The report was prepared with a different approach in general.

When the Turkish Development Assistance Report for 2005 and 2006 are compared, one can see that there are some novelties in the latter. These novelties include the analysis of the data of direct investments made by the Turkish private sector as well as other investment operations of the Turkish Central Bank and other Turkish missions. These types of transactions are called “other flows” by the OECD and reached US$1 billion in 2006.

The report also includes the assistance provided to refugees within Turkey. Only in 2006, a total number of 57,942 refugees came to Turkey for various reasons and their needs such as food and shelter were met during their stay in Turkey. The total amount of this kind of assistance was US$38.6 million. The report also analysed the Turkish ODA within the framework of the MDGs. By doing so, Turkey’s efforts in the achievement of the MDGs were assessed for the first time and it came out that 50.7 % of Turkish ODA contributed to the MDGs.

Coordination Board Meetings

According to Article 4 of the Law 4668 on Organization and Duties of TIKA, dated 2001, the Coordination Board on the Turkish development cooperation activities should convene at least once a year. The Board is composed of high-level bureaucrats from related line ministries; Undersecretaries of the Treasury, Foreign Trade and State Planning Organization; the Presidency of Religious Affairs, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK); and TIKA. The Board is presided over by the State Minister responsible for TIKA. Other related government institutions as well as the representatives of NGOs could be invited on the acceptance that they have no voting power.

The Board, first of all, assesses the activities of TIKA in the previous year, provides direction and gives advice for the following year. Completed projects are assessed based on the principles set forth in the previous year’s Coordination Board and new projects and opening-ups are defined according to the Turkish foreign policy and within the limits of capacities and budget.

In the year 2007, the Coordination Board convened on 27th December 2007 and was chaired by the State Minister Prof. Dr. Mustafa Said Yazıcıoğlu. Some important decisions were made at the meeting, such as the identification of regions and/or countries for new field offices to be established, institutional re-arrangements for TIKA and deepening of the scope of projects and activities by focusing on the areas where Turkey has comparative advantages and considerable experience. These areas were identified as the development of information technologies, e-government, good governance, entrepreneurship, SMEs, private sector development, healthy water supply and the transfer of technology in agriculture and health.

Institutional Developments

In 2007, there were some institutional developments as regards the improvement of the functioning of TIKA. Following the government’s “Opening-up to Africa Policy”, TIKA has established field offices in Ethiopia and Sudan. In 2007, this was followed by the opening of a TIKA field office in Dakar, Senegal. As in the case of other field offices, the objective of this office was not limited to the projects in that country. These offices serve as regional liaison offices which provide assistance to the countries in their vicinity. Besides this, another TIKA office was opened in Podgoritsa following the independence of Montenegro.

Relations with International Development Cooperation Actors

Turkey is party to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Harmonization of donors’ assistance to recipient countries is among the pillars of the Paris Declaration. This is maintained not only in TIKA’s project approach, but also in its relations with major international organizations in development cooperation. Turkey is a member of the OECD and has an observer status at the DAC. Since 2005, TIKA’s experts are seconded to several directorates of the OECD. By the end of 2007, the total number of experts seconded at the OECD reached 13. This has created awareness among TIKA experts about the developmental trends around the world.

As an emerging donor and an observer to the DAC, Turkey initiated a policy dialogue meeting among DAC and non-DAC members of the OECD which materialized in a policy dialogue meeting in Istanbul in 2006. This was followed by a second meeting hosted by the Republic of Korea in Seoul in 2007. These meetings are important in the sense that they provide ground for sharing experiences as well as realizing the comparative advantages of emerging donors.

Another important international organization in the field of development is the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). TIKA’s field offices closely cooperate with UNDP country offices and implement several projects jointly in various countries and sectors. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), being another UN agency, is also a partner of Turkey in transferring know-how and experience accumulated in Turkey in the fields of technology, food industry, textiles and other fields pertinent to the industrial development of partner countries.

Turkey is also a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and TIKA cooperates with IsDB to transfer Turkey’s experience to other members of the Bank upon their request. This is mainly realized by the provision and dispatch of Turkish experts to IsDB member countries via IsDB and its financial resources.

Further to TIKA’s cooperation with multilateral donors, cooperation also exists with several bilateral donors. As a developing country, Turkey transfers its expertise and experience gained in its own development process to other developing countries. TIKA’s activities are therefore considered within the framework of South-South Cooperation. Furthermore, TIKA’s cooperation with other bilateral donors is a good example of triangular cooperation where one developing country transfers its expertise in a certain field to the other with financial support of an established donor, i.e. a donor from the North.

Project Highlights in 2007

In the year 2007, TIKA undersigned a significant number of projects in a wide area. In 2007, TIKA provided training for almost 2,000 experts in various sectors; constructed and/or renovated 36 schools; supported the education of 783 students; undertook health screening of more than 200,000 people; opened 40 water wells and 6 computer laboratories; supported the construction of 9 roads and bridges; and supported numerous cultural events.

Among all the projects and activities, the projects regarding the reconstruction of Afghanistan are very important. As mentioned above, TIKA has three offices in Afghanistan in Kabul, Wardak and Mazar-i Shareef. Health and education projects form the largest share of TIKA projects in Afghanistan. Annually, almost 1 million people receive medical treatment from the hospitals constructed and/or run by Turkey. Also, TIKA builds many schools and classrooms and gives importance to the enrolment of girls in these schools.

As for the other regions and countries, TIKA accomplished and commenced some major projects in 2007. For instance, the project on the protection of forests from some forest pests was completed in Georgia and a similar one was commenced in Kyrgyzstan. With this project, natural walnut forests will be healed and walnut production will be increased. These will eventually lead to gradual increases in income of people living in the related regions.

There were also projects in Africa where TIKA has started to operate very recently. For instance, the TIKA office in Dakar is used as a liaison office for West African countries and many experts from West Africa received vocational training in Turkey on automotive, electronics, textile and police services. The disbursement of humanitarian assistance as well as the construction of hospitals for the internally displaced people (IDPs) of Darfur, Sudan, was also completed in 2007.

TIKA also gives importance to the improvement of urban services in partner countries. In this regard, constructions of roads and bridges as well as the construction of water wells and water distribution systems in several partner countries are good examples of TIKA’s cooperation with local governments and municipalities. This kind of cooperation provides sustainability of the projects as well as maintaining ownership of the projects by partners.

Alongside technical assistance projects, some cultural projects were also undertaken by TIKA in 2007. Almost 90% of the construction works of the Turkish Monuments Project in Mongolia (MOTAP) were completed in 2007. This project includes the construction of a motorway of 45 km and the restoration of Orkhun Monuments as well as building a museum. The whole project will be completed by the end of 2008 and is expected to create a place of attraction in Mongolia for many tourists. Besides MOTAP, TIKA supported the restoration of several cultural and historical artefacts in partner countries in order to preserve the world’s common cultural heritage.


Although the planning of projects is carried out by TIKA on an annual basis, the projects are not generally completed in just one year. For this reason, it is sometimes difficult to make an assessment of a year as there are some continuing projects at the point of assessment. In this sense, instead of making a year’s analysis, a periodical analysis would be better to see the whole trends of development assistance of a donor country. Therefore, although this article focuses on the developments in the year 2007, most of the analyses were actually carried out based on a certain period of time in order to demonstrate the trends in Turkish development assistance strategy.

It is obvious that the year 2007 brought some changes to TIKA. The scope and the number of its projects have been positively affected by these developments. With these progresses as well as with the activities of TIKA, Turkey’s emerging donor status and her role in the international arena have become much more visible.


Commission of the European Communities, Turkey 2007 Progress Report, p. 73, 2007, available in:

Tika, Turkish Development Assistance Report 2006, Ankara, 2007, available in: