“There are some common denominators and similar circumstances between Yemen and Turkey… We should take these points into consideration and learn from the Turkish experience in local administration” [Archives:2000/01/Law & Diplomacy]

January 3 2000

Yemen and Turkey enjoy a special relationship in terms of cooperation economically, politically, and socially. Last month, a delegation visited in response to an invitation from the Turkish Middle East Institute for General Administration in Ankara. The visit’s main purpose is to study the Turkish experience in the field of local administration. Thanks to the genuine efforts of the Turkish Embassy in Sanaa, the visit was quite successful in all aspects. Yemen Times interviewed the members of the delegation, Mr. Abdullah Al-Hada’i, the First Director of the Minister of Local Administration, Mr. Mohamed Sanhoob, a Legal Consultant of the Minister, and Mr. Ameed Mohamed Abdullah, the financial and administrative Deputy Assistant of the Minister.
Q: What is the purpose of your visit to Turkey?
A: There are, of course, many purposes. One of them is to get closely acquainted with the Turkish experiment on application of a local administrative system in order to benefit from their example, especially at this time when the government is preparing to move to the system of administrative and financial decentralization. As a result of the Ministry of Local Administration’s desire to benefit from other countries’ experiences, it decided to send some specialists to a number of countries, including Turkey.
Q: What distinguishes Turkey in this regard?
A: * Turkey pursues a democratic regime and political pluralism. It has a long experience in the field of local administration, based on decentralized governance in financial and administrative affairs, dating back more than 140 years.
* Local authorities in Turkey are elected directly by the people.
* There are some common denominators and similar circumstances between Yemen and Turkey, whether regarding the administrative division, the government structure and the social and economic circumstances. We should take these points into consideration and learn from the Turkish experience in local administration. In addition, there is a good relationship between the two countries and peoples.
Q: Some political parties in Yemen think that the essence of decentralization is the election of governors and the directors general of districts. What are your comments on this? Is this applied in Turkey?
A: Yemen’s constitution stipulates that local authorities must be based on the principle of financial and administrative decentralization.
The concept of administrative decentralization distribution and transfer of some authorities from the central government in the capital to the local authorities provided the latter being subject to supervision of the central authority according to law.
In fact, understanding the concept of decentralization as you have just mentioned in your question is not correct. The question of governors or districts’ directors general, whether elected or appointed, does not have an effect in any way on the pattern by which the local authorities are run. The most important advantage of the decentralized authorities is the kind of power that is transferred to them from the central authorities.
Concerning the other part of the question, governors and district directors in Turkey are appointed by the government and their job is to represent the central authority in their governorates or districts. They also control the municipality councils through which local authority is manifested. The success of Turkey in this regard has been obvious and it has not been affected by whether the governors or districts’ directors were appointed by the government or were elected.
Q: Who invited you to Turkey? What are the districts you visited? How do you assess your visit?
A: The visit was arranged by the Turkish Middle East Institute for General Administration in Ankara and through good efforts by the Embassy of Turkey in Sanaa. The program included visits to some offices of the Ministry of Interior and municipality in Ankara. In Istanbul we visited the Municipality Office and the governorate headquarters. During the visit, which was successful we were able to get acquainted with the Turkish experience in the field of local administration and we will unquestionably benefit from it in Yemen.
Q: What is your view on future cooperation with Turkey in the field of local administration?
A: We are the first official delegation to visit Turkey for this purpose. Honestly speaking, we highly appreciate the warm reception and good response we received from the people there during the visit. We also found that they were ready to extend and strengthen fields of cooperation by granting scholarships and training courses to Yemenis to study in the Turkish Middle East Institute for General Administration. We are looking forward to enhancing cooperation between the two countries in future.
Q: Any last word?
A: We would like to take the advantage of this meeting to thank the Turkish consul and all the staff of the consulate in Sanaa and the TMEIGA. We also thank the local authority in the Ministry of Interior, the Istanbul Municipality and Mr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Jaifi, the Yemen ambassador to Turkey, for their efforts to make the visit a success.