Turkish Aid Pays Dividends for Erdogan in Bosnia
At the same time, development assistance is a tool of soft power and public diplomacy. This component, or side effect, of development assistance must be underlined when it comes to looking at TIKA's role as the most visible Turkish government actor in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Since 1995, TIKA has implemented more than 800 projects in the formerly war-torn Balkan country, which have focused mainly on education, health, agriculture and restoration of cultural heritage.
When it comes to health and agriculture, typical projects aim at hospital modernization or support for local farmers, which is a common approach of all donors.
The most visible sector of TIKA's work, however, is the restoration of Ottoman architectural heritage, including bridges, mosques and other monuments destroyed by Bosnian Serb or Croat military forces during the 1992-5 war.
One of the eloquent examples of this was the reconstruction of the Emperor's Mosque in Sarajevo, implemented by TIKA between 2014 and 2015.
Costing around 1.3 million euros, the mosque was ceremonially reopened by former Bosnian presidency member Bakir Izetbegovic and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The long list of historical Ottoman sites repaired by TIKA also includes the Sarena Mosque in Tuzla, the famous Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge in Visegrad, eastern Bosnia, and the State Archives in Sarajevo. Others include the house in which former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic was born in Bosanski Samac.
Bridge on Drina. Photo: Wikimedia commons/Katarina195
There is no doubt that these projects have helped to preserve or restore the glorious cultural heritage of the Ottoman era in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
But they also bring Turkey greater visibility, and...