Ankara, 29 January 2019 - Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, began her visit to Turkey where she will review UNDP’s partnership with the government and visit key programme sites in southeast Anatolia.
In Ankara, Ms. Spoljaric Egger joins today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Turkey-UNDP annual consultations. Signed in 2011, the Partnership Framework Agreement (PFA) enables both parties to expand their cooperation at the national, regional and global level.
As part of the framework, Turkey has contributed US$15 million towards UNDP’s regional programme in Europe and Central Asia and is supporting the Istanbul Regional Hub. The country has also become one of the top non-OECD/DAC donors to UNDP core resources, having contributed US$15 million since 2013.
“Turkey has made a unique contribution to development at the global, regional and local level, and is hosting millions of Syrian nationals”, said Mirjana Spoljaric Egger.
“I hope that in 2019 and beyond, we will expand our partnership with Turkey’s generous support, with a view to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
While in Turkey, the Regional Director will also visit programmes aimed to advance the situation of Syrian and Turkish nationals in southeast Anatolia, an area directly affected by the influx of displaced Syrians.
As of January 2019, Turkey, the country with the world’s largest number of refugees, was hosting over 3.6 million Syrians. The country provides a rights-based legal framework for hosting them, offering free access to education, health care, employment and social security to Syrians. Turkey is also the largest donor of humanitarian aid in the world in proportion to its national income.
UNDP has shifted from a humanitarian to a long-term, sustainable development approach to the Syrian crisis. The only international organization with a presence of more than 20 years in southeast Anatolia, UNDP is supporting the government as it works to increase self-reliance
among Syrians – most of which reside in urban areas – while strengthening the capacities of host communities and municipalities to provide public services and boost the local economy.
In Şanlıurfa, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger will meet with Abdullah Erin, the Governor and Sadrettin Karahocagil, the President of the Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP) Regional Development Administration. With the latter, she will discuss major programmes on entrepreneurship, industrial and rural development, tourism and energy efficiency, all of which have been expanded since the beginning of the conflict in Syria.
In Şanlıurfa, Ms. Spoljaric Egger will also visit a centre that deploys renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and practices to power strategic economic sectors including agriculture and food industry and public investments in the region.
In Gaziantep, the Regional Director will meet trainers and trainees of a glass-blowing atelier that provides a vital source of income for locals and Syrians, and attend a vocational training certificate programme, that UNDP conducts in cooperation with Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce.
Gaziantep, along with its neighbouring provinces, is known for its generous and hospitable approach towards migrants from Syria, demonstrating how key humanitarian reforms, including the New Way of Working (NWOW), have been put in practice in Turkey.
In Kilis, the Regional Director will visit an organic olive oil production facility supported by UNDP and local partners. She will also visit a community centre facilitating social and economic integration for Syrians and host communities. The border province hosts more Syrians than Turkish nationals.
Mirjana Spoljaric Egger became the Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS in October 2018. She leads UNDP’s work and teams in 17 countries and territories, spanning Central Asia, the Western CIS and South Caucasus, and the Western Balkans.
Ms. Spoljaric Egger previously served as Head of United Nations and International Organisations Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, where she has been instrumental in shaping Swiss UN policies and priorities in support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. She is the successor of Ms Cihan Sultanoğlu who was appointed as the new UN Representative to the Geneva International Discussions in 2018.