By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANTALYA, Turkey (AA) – One of Turkey’s top diplomats Sunday called the least-developed countries (LDCs) conference in Antalya an important opportunity to address commitments and strengthen the global partnership with LDCs.
In a speech Sunday at the closing of the UN's Midterm Review Conference of the Istanbul Program of Action for LDCs, Turkey's Deputy Foreign Undersecretary Ayse Sinirlioglu said: "Our meeting was an important opportunity to reaffirm the global commitment to address the special needs of the least-developed countries made in Istanbul [in 2011]."
"It was also an important opportunity to further strengthen the global partnership needed to overcome the challenges which lie ahead," said Sinirlioglu, adding that they delivered successfully on both counts.
The three-day conference in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort of Antalya was a comprehensive review of how the 2011 Istanbul Program of Action has been implemented.
That program, passed at the Fourth UN Conference on Least-Developed Countries, charts out the international community’s strategy for sustainable development through 2021, with a strong focus on developing LDCs’ productive capacities.
- Turkey to continue to support poor countries
Sinirlioglu said that Turkey would continue to increase its official development assistance and meet its commitments to LDCs. "Effective implementation of the Istanbul Program of Action is a high- priority issue for Turkey."
"We will spare no effort towards this objective and will continue our strong support for the sustainable development of the LDCs," said the senior ambassador.
Turkey's bilateral trade volume with Africa reached $17.5 billion in 2015, and Turkey's official development assistance reached $3.9 billion in 2015, or some 0.54 percent of its gross national income.
Over the past five years, Turkey has provided LDCs more than $1.6 billion in development assistance.
The country’s Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has reached 40 LDCs so far. TIKA actively supports sustainable development efforts in African and Arab LDCs through various projects.
Turkey, which provides more than 1,000 scholarships every year for students from African and Arab LDCs, is also conducting technical training programs for young people both at home and in African and Arab LDCs.
- Joint declaration
A concluding statement from the last day of the conference stressed the need for official development assistance for LDCs.
It said that participating countries had decided to maintain official development assistance for poor countries.
"Continued robust external support, including through official development assistance (ODA), is necessary to complement domestic resources and national policies and programmes to effectively assist each of the least-developed countries in addressing these important issues," the declaration said.
"We recognize the important contribution of the existing preferences extended to the least-developed countries," it added.
Sinirlioglu said the continuing importance of official development assistance for LDCs "is an important point" in the declaration. "It serves a catalytic function to leverage private sector involvement, facilitate capacity building and technology development."
- Turkey to host technology bank for LDCs
The declaration said that Turkey will host a technology bank for LDCs in the Gebze district of the northwestern Kocaeli province. "We reaffirm our commitment to fully operationalize the technology bank for the least-developed countries, in view of its potential to foster productive capacity, structural transformation, poverty eradication, and sustainable development.
"We stress that generous and sustained support will be crucial to ensure the success of the technology bank. We welcome the fact that Turkey will host the technology bank for the least-developed countries in Gebze, and we call upon the Government of Turkey to continue its support for the bank.”
At the press conference, Sinirlioglu said the technology bank will make significant contributions to LDCs’ scientific and technological capacity.
"We will do our part to make the technology bank operational by the end of this year," Sinirlioglu said.
- Turkey organized conference successfully
The UN high representative for LDCs praised Turkey’s organization of the conference.
The UN’s Gyan Chandra Acharya, addressing a closing press conference, said that Turkey had provided very strong support to LDCs. "Thank you, Turkey, not only for organizing this conference but also supporting the least-developed countries."
Acharya said that Turkey will continue to maintain its support for LDCs and enhance collaborating with them. "This is very good example of organizing a conference and reinforcing the commitments and solidarity to the LDCs."
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By Emin Avundukluoglu