TURKEY’S RELATIONS WITH UNESCO
Being amog the 20 founding countries of UNESCO, Turkey’s active participation in activities within UNESCO continues to loom large in our cultural, educational and scientific external relations. Our works within the context of UNESCO constitute a reflection of our country’s efficacy also in the sphere of multilateral diplomacy and Turkey gradually becomes to have a weighted position in UNESCO.
As a matter of fact, in the elections held during the 36th General Conference of UNESCO between 25 October – 10 November 2011, our country has been elected as members of the Intergovernental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP), the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme and the Intergovermental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS). Thereby, with our memberships in the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme and the Intergovermental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) at present, our representation in four out of five (Education, Culture, Natural Sciences, Communication and Information) fields of UNESCO activities has been provided.
Furthermore, our representation for a period of two years in the Executive Board, which is one of the main decision-making body of UNESCO, has been guarantied during the 36th General Conference as a result of an agreement reached between Turkey and Spain within the Electoral Group I (Western Europe and North America). Within the framework of the said agreement, Spain, which is elected as a member of the Executive Board, shall witdraw its membership in 2013 in favor of Turkey.
Our country has played an active role in the process of Palestine’s full membership to UNESCO. We have been co-sponsor of the draft resolution submitted to General Conference and contributed to the realization of Palestine’s full membership to UNESCO by casting positive vote at the elections.
Given the current financial difficulties the Oraganization faces, to support UNESCO’s prioirty programmes and reform initiatives, the Turkish Government has decided to contribute to the Special Emergency Multi-Donor Fund for UNESCO with a Grant of 5 million US Dollars. Besides, Turkey has paid her budget contributions in full in January 2012 for the years 2012 and 2013, valued as 4.400.000 million US Dollars.
Our Country has 10 cultural sites registered on the World Heritage List (Historic Areas of İstanbul, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği, Hattushash, Mt.Nemrut, Xantos-Letoon, Hierapolis-Pamukkale, City of Safranbolu, Archaeological Site of Troy, Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex). On the other hand, the issue of inscribing “Historic Areas of İstanbul”, which has been in the World Heritage List since 1985, on the List of World Heritage in Danger has been removed from the agenda as a result of cooperation with the World Heritage Committee.
Besides, we have 8 cultural heritage, namely; “The Arts of Meddah, Public Storytellers”, “The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony, “Aşıklık (minstrelsy) Tradition”, “Karagöz”, “Nevruz”, “Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival”, “Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi Rituel” and “Traditional Sohbet Meetings” registered on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
On the other hand, on 12 May 2011, the Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TİKA) and UNESCO concluded a cooperative Memorandum of Understanding. In the Memorandum of Understanding, cooperation, particularly in cultural heritage, vocational training, capacity-building and water related issues has been envisioned in TİKA’s and UNESCO’s fields of action. The agreement defines the scope of joint projects in Africa, the Balkans, Central Asia and Middle East. Consolidation of experiences and joint venture capacities of TİKA and UNESCO with the said cooperation is expected to make an important contribution to the development of relevant regions in areas of education, culture, science, communication and information.