The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) has completed 44 projects in Croatia, an agency official said Saturday.
Haşim Koç, the TİKA coordinator in Zagreb, said the projects, mostly in the education sector, were conducted in the last three years. TİKA launched its first aid activities in the western Balkan nation in 2014, after the region was hit by severe floods, Koç told Anadolu Agency.
The aid organization formally opened its office in Zagreb in 2016. It implemented an agricultural development program for families affected by floods in the eastern town of Gunja. Under the program, 50 families were provided with greenhouses, while 50 others were given cows, Koç said.
He added that partial renovations of a mosque and an Islamic cultural center, which were damaged in the disaster, were also done by TİKA.
TİKA aims to boost Turkey-Croatia ties as it works to protect the country's historical and cultural heritage. It also completed several projects in the fields of education, agriculture, stockbreeding, health and science. Other projects include equipment support, home health care, research on historical heritage, symposium and culture festivals, as well as ones to improve bilateral relations.
Koç went on to say that the agency is going to organize a children's festival with 1,200 participants, to mark April 23, Turkey's National Sovereignty and Children's Day. He added that TİKA plans to build a children's park in the northwestern city of Karlovac. "The maintenance of a public education center in the town of Slunj was completed and it was going to be handed over to the locals soon," Koç said, adding that TİKA has a number of ongoing projects in the least-developed areas of the country, as well as in larger cities.
EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Koç said they were planning to run a project for people with disabilities this year.
"We aim to facilitate the participation of people with disabilities in social life through the projects we develop for the employment of these groups."
In 2018, the agency worked on a capacity building project at Dotted Soaps Workshop together with the Zagreb Association for the Blind, he said. The project also allowed the production of liquid and handmade soaps.
"Before our contribution, only one person was working at the workshop, at the end of the project employment opportunities for 12 blind individuals were created," he said.
During Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's visit to Ankara on Jan. 16, TİKA signed a protocol with the Croatian Islamic Union to build the Islamic Cultural Center in Sisak, located 57 kilometers south of the capital.
"Sisak is a city that has received many workers and immigrants because it was one of the most important industrial cities in the former Yugoslavia," said Koç.
"Some of the migrants were Muslims. For this reason, the Muslim population in Sisak is higher than the rest of Croatia." The Islamic union launched the construction of the cultural center in 2017 and contributed to the project to a certain level, according to Koç. He said the remaining work will be completed with Turkey's contribution, under the supervision of TİKA.