TIKA head: "Our agency provides aid unconditionally"
The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) provides assistance to countries regardless of whether they are accused of being a dictatorship by the international community or even if Turkey has bad relations with them, as in the case of Israel, TIKA head Musa Kulaklikaya said yesterday. "We aim to assist countries without any conditions," he told the Diplomatic Correspondents' Association, adding that TIKA works to establish good relations with the people of countries where it provides assistance. "We don't impose any conditions," he said. "Certainly, if you give, you expect something in return. If you want to improve relations, you should organize (grassroots) projects to support them." Kulaklikaya stressed the importance of achieving peace and tranquility in the Balkans and strong foundations for relations with the countries of Central Asia. "Why don't we establish a union of the Turkic world?" he asked. "There are already several initiatives towards this. So the importance of TIKA and similar groups will soar." Asked about TIKA assistance to Sudan, a country whose president, Omar al-Bashir, is accused of being a dictator, Kulaklikaya replied, "We assist the people of those countries that need help, not the dictators." Although Turkey's relations with Israel soured following last May's raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship, the relations of TIKA and its Israeli counterpart are developing, he said. "Israel has proposed cooperating in the Palestinian territories and other countries," he said. TIKA was established to provide development assistance foremost to developing countries where Turkish is spoken and countries that border Turkey as well as improve cooperation through projects and economic, commercial, technical, social, cultural and educational programs. TIKA assists the countries of Central Asia, the Balkans and Africa with a budget of approximately $700-750 million annually.