Turkey is becoming one of the most loyal backers of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, recently deciding to double its annual contribution, after donating an additional $5 million last year.
According to news reports, the move is aimed to compensate for the lost revenue from the US and Israel, following their suspension of payments after Palestine became a full member of the organization. According to estimates, Turkey contributes around 1.3% of UNESCO’s budget and this should go up to 2.5%. The US alone gives 22%.
It is interesting that the cut of US funds is presented as the primary consideration behind this move. Turkey, a NATO member, is a traditional friend of the United States and one is not used to reading such an explicit motivation coming from allies.
However, this is not all due to altruism for UNESCO’s mission. Turkey is home to many important cultural sites from many different cultures. Strengthening their position at UNESCO is an asset for Turkish diplomacy. Turkey was recently elected to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee for the next four years and four Turkish programs had been accepted into UNESCO’s memorial programs. This hasn’t got unnoticed and has angered its neighbor and traditional rival Armenia.