Alliances for Culture Tourism In Eastern Anatolia, UN Joint Programme

08 May 2012

Mr. Shahid Najam,
UNDP Resident Representative

Sayın Müsteşarım,
Sayın Valim,
Değerli Konuklar ve Kars’lı Dostlarımız,

Sizlerle bir kez daha Kars’ta birlikte olmaktan memnuniyet duyuyorum. Kars hem kültürel dokusu, hem doğası, hem de insanlarıyla benim için hep çok etkileyici bir il oldu. Kars paydasında Ortak Program kapsamında bir araya gelen tüm BM ailesi adına da bunu söyleyebilirim*.  (From now on, I will have to continue in English, since my Turkish does not allow me to continue in your language).

We are here for a very special occasion. For us, it is very important to celebrate with you, our local and national partners, the completion of the Joint Programme activities and to discuss the future steps to continue the development momentum generated as a result of the implementation of the programme activities.

Just a reminder: The  Joint Programme that beings us her together is ‘Alliances for Culture Tourism in Eastern Anatolia’, funded by the Spanish MDG Achievement Fund. It has been managed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in conjunction with UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNWTO and aims to address the Millennium Development Goal 1, Poverty Reduction in line with the 9th National Development Plan; to mitigate regional disparities by developing alternative sectors such as tourism and to contribute to the welfare of Kars region.

At the beginning of our Joint Programme, there were reservations and apprehensions as to the selection of Kars as the target area. From where I look now, we really witness why this was an excellent decision. Today, we will hear more about the results of our joint initiatives and of the passion and dedication of our local partners which culminated in many successes and models- the models which can be up-scaled and replicated elsewhere.

I would like to highlight some of the salient achievements of the Programme:

• One of its most impressive aspects is the inclusive nature of the JP and vertical integration and ownership by national, sub-national and local actors, from government, business, academia and civil society.

• The Programme showed how the comparative and competitive advantage of the region stemming from the richness of its cultural values and treasure of its heritage and, coupled with a sense of pride and cumulative wisdom of centuries, harnessed the enormous potential of the economic and business activity and laid down the foundations for sustainable development.

• The Programme brought to fore through intense engagement of the stakeholders, the development practitioners and policy makers the importance of tourism as a potent vehicle for transforming the local economic development landscape. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is now attaching an increasingly significant priority to alternative tourism in conformity with the global trends bringing the troika of environment, culture and community together to optimize the economic benefits.

• The programme led to upstream tourism strategy development; the documentation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage; the development of historical heritage site management plan and the like. Some of these present the best practices and models which could be suitably adapted and replicated elsewhere in Turkey and even beyond.

• And not to mention, the UN system including the non-represented agencies like WTO and UNESCO demonstrated, how working together in unison and pooling our expertise, we could create an enhanced development impact.

I could continue on and on but we will soon hear from our colleagues and partners the results and impacts of the Joint Programme that we have jointly been implementing for more than three years. We will also be talking about challenges we faced and lessons learned.

One of the major challenges before us today, however, is how to ensure the sustainability of the results achieved and the alliances established both at the local and national levels and how to harness these to create long term impact.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While concluding, I must express profound thanks to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for their patronage and excellent cooperation throughout our presence here; we owe a debt of gratitude to our friends and partners in Kars, for all their commitment and engagement. My words of praise go to the partnering UN Agencies for their technical support, expertise, cooperative attitude and synergies which demonstrated a true example of One UN. And last but not the least, the Joint Programme Team, under the leadership of Nese deserve special appreciation for their industriousness, tenacity of purpose and result oriented approach. Most of them are no more with us and have moved on to the new posts; without their professional and cooperative work, we could not have accomplished what we have.

* I am very pleased to once again be with you in Kars. Kars has always been a very impressive city with its cultural values, nature and people. I can confidently say the same thing on behalf of the UN Family that came together within the Joint Programme in Kars.