Opening Ceremony for the Civic Training of Mehmetçik Project

05 Jun 2014

Opening Remarks for Mr. Kamal Malhotra
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey

5 June 2014, Ankara

Honorable General Yaşar GÜLER, Deputy Chief of the Turkish General Staff,

Honorable Minister Nabi Avci,

Your Excellency, Ambassador Stefano Manservisi,

Major General Taner Düvenci,

Mr. Muhsin Altun, President of the Central Finance and Contracts Unit,

Honorable Undersecretaries, Ambassadors, Military Attaches, Honorable Counselors and Deputy Undersecretaries, Distinguished Academics, representatives of Ministries, Civil Society, the Press, and the UN family,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this Opening Ceremony of the “Civic Training for Mehmetçik” on behalf of the United Nations Development Program. 

UNDP has already cooperated on many important projects with many Turkish Ministries, NGOs and other institutions, but this project marked our first cooperation with the Turkish Armed Forces. We are aware that the TAF has a very important role in Turkish society. Therefore, we consider this project as a unique opportunity to collaborate with the TAF on an important set of issues. This project aims at raising awareness amongst the young male population of Turkey to enable them to become more conscious and responsible citizens who are respectful of the rights of all Turkish citizens and are also sensitive about protection of their physical environment.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) is one of the few institutions in the country with the ability to reach young men from all segments of society, regardless of their education, income level or geographic region. The conscripts, when they complete military service, continue civilian life as fathers, husbands and brothers in Turkish society. Therefore, UNDP joined TAF in their efforts to equip the conscripts with many of the critical skills and qualifications needed for good citizenship.

Being on the ground in 177 countries and territories, UNDP has extensive experience and expertise on human rights, including on social and health rights issues. Our experience proves that it is essential to reach all segments of society and to use different venues to promote a human rights culture and protect the rights of citizens, particularly vulnerable groups such as women and children. To enable this, education of young people, particularly men, is of utmost importance.

It is well known that human rights education is a relatively young field, rooted in the promotion of the human rights principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN’s international covenants and treaties. Recently, human rights education has been increasingly emphasized by the United Nations, most recently through the UN Secretary General’s Rights Up Front initiative which prioritizes prevention of systematic human rights violations and seeks to foster a culture of respect for human rights in society.

TAF, given its unique position among formal Turkish institutions, and UNDP, with its global experience and expertise, have now successfully worked together to put in place some of the building blocks for an enabling environment for good citizenship which should be much more conducive to the enjoyment of human rights by all Turkish citizens. As a concrete manifestation, young conscripts will be trained on human rights, with particular emphasis on the rights of women and children, legal empowerment and environmental awareness so as to better prepare them for life and enable them to become model individuals in their social environment. In the medium and long run, the cumulative effect of the Project should be felt at many levels of Turkish society, starting from the very basic unit of the household. As a result, the Project and its processes can be regarded as an investment in the democratization process and Turkey’s future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would also like to note UNDP’s satisfaction that the goals of each of the eight modules selected are a part of the policy of many governmental institutions of the Republic of Turkey represented here today. This is vital for the sustainability of the Project and its outcomes.

We have completed almost 14 months of the Project. I would like to emphasize our appreciation to all stakeholders for their valuable support and cooperation. We remain happy to pursue our productive cooperation with TAF, initiated as a result of this Project, and will be happy to see an extension of the Project to a new phase.

Let me conclude by wishing the Project every success. Many thanks again to all our partners for their cooperation, especially the Turkish Armed Forces and the Delegation of the European Union in Turkey.

Thank you all for coming.