Thursday, January 14, 2010

Allegations of Discrimination in Distribution of EU Aid

Radio Sweden reports on allegations that European aid is not reaching the regions and groups for which it is intended. Anne Ludvigsson, head of the Swedish support committee for human rights in Turkey and Swedish MP from the Social Democratic Party, argues the EU should place more pressure on Turkey to support human rights and ensure that Turkish bureacrats are fairly distributing funds. Ludvigsson has attempted to highlight the problem, which many argue is a result of discrimnation. The Radio Sweden story also quotes Levent Korkut, head of the Civil Society Development Center (STGM), which the EU setup to assist NGOs receive funds. According to Korkut, discrimnation is a critical factor in all Turkish affairs, adding that discrimination is based not just on ethnicity and religion, but also disability, sexual orientation, and gender. Muhsin Altun, director of the Central Finance and Contrats Unit, tells Swedish Radio that there is indeed disproportionality in the direction of EU funds between the east and west of Turkey, but points out that NGOs and cooperatives are less plentiful and often lack the technical know-how to apply for the funding. Ludvigsson's part of the interview appears at the end of the story, and features her dismissal of EU bureacrats' claims that the money is being adequately monitored and distributed. Ludvigsson apparently brought a mayor from Turkey's southeast to Sweden to comment on how his region is no longer receiving monies, though the story does not go into when funds stopped, why, and where exactly the mayor was from. Ludvigsson advocates bringing more Turkish politicians to the Swedish parliament to discuss EU funding.

The European Union distributes funding to Turkey under a variety of instruments, most important of which is the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance. EU funding of minority-based groups is the topic of my Fulbright research, and I am most glad to finally see a story at least broaching it.

In related news, the European Information Center in Istanbul opens today.

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