Turkey as a New Player in Development Cooperation

By Kulaklikaya, Musa; Nurdun, Rahman | Insight Turkey, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Turkey as a New Player in Development Cooperation


Kulaklikaya, Musa, Nurdun, Rahman, Insight Turkey


Turkey's transition from single party rule to multi-party rule in the 1950s also opened the door for the flow of foreign aid to Turkey, among which the Marshall Plan was the most famous for its role in promoting a solid economic foundation for Western Europe. The Marshall Plan also marked Turkey's first experience with the Official Development Assistance (ODA) as an aid recipient country. Since then, Turkey's role in the international aid community has fundamentally changed, reflecting the transformations in Turkey's foreign policy orientation. Although Turkey still receives aid at a symbolic level, its stronger economic position and sense of responsibility for promoting international peace and prosperity have enabled Turkey to emerge as a new donor. It is currently a net contributor to ODA.

ODA has increasingly become an integral part of Turkey's recent proactive foreign policy. In line with the current government's objective of creating a more peaceful and stable environment in the surrounding regions, Turkey has interjected itself as an important stakeholder in the building of regional stability. As an extension of its policy of utilizing a wide range of soft power instruments, such as assuming a mediator role in regional conflicts, Turkey also increased its level of contribution to ODA geared towards helping countries affected by conflicts and natural disasters. At the same time, Turkey's ambition to act as a major regional power provides an added impetus to growing its ODA contributions.

This article will shed light on Turkey's aid policy as well as its evolution from an aid recipient country to a new player in the international donor community, by placing it in the context of Turkey's proactive foreign policy. This article aims to compare Turkey with other emerging international donors, such as South Korea and Poland. This will facilitate our understanding of Turkey's emerging role within the international donor community. Moreover, the article will trace the changes in the institutional organization of the ODA in Turkey, with particular reference to the role of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) and its ODA reporting policies.

As the direction of foreign aid is determined not only by political and strategic considerations, but also by the economic needs and policy performance of the recipient countries, (1) this article will argue that Turkey's foreign aid policy appears to be motivated by two main factors. First, the current Turkish government is aiming to assume international responsibilities commensurate with its position as a regional power. Second, the growing Turkish economy is in need of new markets in the developing world for its products. In other words, the political and strategic considerations as well as trade concerns with recipient countries are the main reasons for Turkey's proactive foreign aid policy.

Turkey's History as a net ODA Recipient Country

In the late 1940s, the Marshall Plan offered Turkey a significant amount of ODA, which subsequently brought about a strong impetus to Turkey's economic development in the 1950s. Since, Japan and Germany have been the two other major donors contributing to the improvement of Turkey's economic performance. According to OECD/DAC data, starting from 1960 until the end of 2007, the total ODA delivered by the USA, Japan, and Germany to Turkey are USD 2,4 billion, 1,5 billion, and 2,8 billion, respectively. As detailed in Chart 1 below, from 1999 to 2007, in terms of the total ODA volume, Germany is the largest donor to Turkey, followed by the USA, and Japan.

In addition to these traditional donors that provided assistance through bilateral channels, multilateral international institutions have also contributed to Turkey's development, notably Asian Development Fund (ADF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). …

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