The Future of Europe and Turkey through Education: Mapping Access to Funding in Turkey

Mapping Access to Funding in Turkey

The European Neighbourhood Council (ENC), in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Turkey and the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Turkey concluded a series of online training sessions as part of their project titled “The Future of Europe & Turkey Through Education”. The online training programme builds on identified best practises of the Turkey Training and Lecture Programme 2018-2020 (TTP) and it covers the following topics: privacydisinformationmedia freedom and fundraising.

The four online sessions, which began on the 26th November, brought together a group of around 40 opinion shapers composed of members of Civil Society Organisations (CSO), journalists/bloggers, students and academics across Turkey.

The fourth and final session of this year’s training programme was dedicated to Mapping Access to Funding in Turkey, and featured key opening remarks by Dr. Ronald Meinardus, Project Director at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Turkey, who highlighted the importance of access to funding in that particular timing, as the European budget is being discussed and the political relations between the EU and Turkey are becoming more and more strained. Dr. Ronald Meinardus also explained that the way to EU funding is a complex process, which is particularly why such targeted trainings are essential. The panel discussion that followed featured presentations by Emre Gür, Key Expert at EU Think Civil/Sivil Düşün Programme, and Medeni Sungur, Founder of Kuest Media and ENC opinion-shaper.

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Emre Gür started by explaining that most of the funding that is channeled towards Turkey comes from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), which is one of the instrument that the EU is using to control its external action budget, focusing on pre-accession and candidate countries. Following the discussion on the European budget, it is clear that there will be a reduction of the budget that Turkey has been receiving, with the possible introduction of a conditionality requirement linking funding to the rule of law. However, this budget cut should not target CSOs, as it is the most important component for the democratization of a country. The main change regarding civil society, that has been going on since the last two years, is that funds went from being indirectly managed (by an accredited IPA organisation, thus managing its own funds), to being directly managed (usually by the EU Delegation in Turkey), as the EU and CSOs relationships became more trusted.

Mr. Gür gave concrete examples of EU extensive support to civil society based on his work at Sivil Düşün, which supports and helps CSOs and activists that are applying for grants, as well as Etkiniz, a programme coordinated by the EU Delegation in Turkey that works with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) focusing on human rights monitoring.

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Medeni Sungur confirmed that IPA is currently the most important funds for Turkey CSOs, but IPA grants are difficult to navigate through. In order to help potential applicants, Mr. Sungur suggested focusing on what grant donors are looking at: first, the different criteria they impose, and second, more in-depth, the essence and the inherent values that are created with the project to tackle societal issues.

Mr. Sungur also offered a critical point of view on grantmaking organisations from an applicant perspective: according to him, there is a limitation we put on grant-making schemes that conditions the applicants towards a certain form. This means projects generated are fitting into the general scheme that satisfies the outputs/outcomes boxes, but are essentially a replication of what has been done the last 30 years. This does not leave much space for experimentation, whereas many different tools and tactics are being developed.

Finally, Medeni explained how to map access to funding organizations based on different criteria: geographical (Turkey, EU or US based), the level they target (beginners and start-ups or larger organisations with more capacity), the type of project they want, who they are e.g. Embassies, EU grants, German foundations, etc.

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A series of in-depth podcast discussions dedicated to the training programme will be launched as of January 2021 followed by the planning of the 2nd “Future of Europe & Turkey Through Education” training programme, so stay tuned!