On 25 December 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) dissolved, which resulted in many countries in Central Asia and Caucasia gaining their independence. Having a common language and a shared social memory and culture with these countries, which are comprised of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan, paved the way for the resurgence of dual and regional relations with them. Turkey and the countries in Central Asia consider themselves as one nation containing different countries, and our foreign politics displayed a multilateral and proactive understanding in the region. Our relations with the Turkish speaking countries has become a permanent focus for Turkey and this focus gained in importance in the most recent 20 years of global politics.
In the ’90s, our country’s first priority regarding the issue of Central Asia became the recognition of the young Turkic countries by the international community. This was followed by our country carrying out projects for our cognates living in the newly founded countries of Central Asia in various fields, such as the social, economic and cultural ones. The aid that was given in the beginning, as time turned into long-term projects and cooperation based on development. The need of an organization that can practice and coordinate the operations to be carried out in this area and for foreign policy priorities arose, and resulted in the establishment of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) in 1992. With the establishment of the concept of active politics in our foreign policies, TİKA became an implementing intermediary of Turkish foreign policy, particularly in the countries with whom we have shared values, as well as in many other areas and countries.
We can briefly summarize TİKA’s aims in those years as the procreation of the own social structure of the Turkic Republics, their construction of an identity in a sustainable way, and the remedy of deficiencies of their technical infrastructures. Many projects and activities in the fields of education, health, restoration, agricultural development, finance, tourism, and industry were realized by TİKA. In addition, the first of the TİKA Programme Coordination Offices was inaugurated in Turkmenistan; later on, the number of the offices located in the Eurasian area increased to 6. Turkey’s friendly, fraternal and cooperative hand has also reached out to and is adopted by the countries where we worked with enthusiasm.
TİKA Projects Extend from Technical Infrastructure to Corporate Capacity Increase
The character of our work in our flourishing and improving ancestral lands changed over time. TİKA carried out economic, social and cultural activities in its sister countries until 1995, after which it began to concentrate on cooperation in the field of education and culture. We know that having a qualified, well-educated population comes first. If a nation has a good education system and follows developments in science and the technology, one can speak of sustainable development. Therefore, TİKA accelerated its education activities in the ancestral lands after 1995 – schools, libraries, and laboratories were built and provided universities with technical equipment.
In a process that started in the 2000’s, the world became globalized and the influence of the globalization was perceived in many areas, from the East to the West. In parallel to the acceleration achieved on the subject of development in the countries with whom we share the same language, the projects that TİKA carried out in these regions have turned into projects that increase the institutional capacities. The projects that our country and TİKA realize the ancestral lands with the proper pride of being the inheritors of a common history still continue.
It was in these days that an important part of the Turkish geography had become rich, gained power and by today has reached a position where it helps instead of asks for help. We, as TİKA, continue to develop projects and carry on the reciprocal sharing of experience.
As a prolongation of our country’s efforts to become an important player in the area and in the world, since the 2000’s our conception of foreign policy underwent important changes. In accordance with this change, TİKA enlarged its activity area – it increased the number of Programme Coordination Offices from 12 in the year 2002 to 25 in 2011, and to 33 in 2012. Today, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency is engaged in various development cooperation activities in more than 170 countries through its 63 Programme Coordination Offices located in 61 countries across 5 continents. Related to the active and principled foreign policy that we see in our country, the number of countries wherein we carry out projects also increases every passing day. At the basis of its projects, Turkey tries to establish a peaceful environment directed at its close neighbors and achieves this through TİKA.
TİKA carries out the task of being a cooperating mechanism for the state institutions and organizations, universities, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. In addition, it functions as a platform for these actors to come together and it records the development aid carried out by Turkey.
While the development aid of our country comprised about 85 Millions of USD in 2002, this amount reached 8.120 billion USD* in 2017. TİKA is ranked amongst the Turkish organizations that carry out most technical co-operation with Turkic speaking countries. In 2017, Turkey has become the country with the highest humanitarian assistance in the World.
Focusing on development cooperation, TİKA works in more than 170 countries, including the ones where their offices are located. Our country shares her knowledge and experience through TİKA, with many countries from the Balkans to Africa, from the Middle East to Latin America.
*8.12 billion Dollars is not TİKA’s but our country’s official development assistance total for the year 2017.