Fake consultants go for EU grants
Briefcase NGOs and fake consultants with falsified business cards that promise awarded EU grant in return for large sums of money are exposed in SR’s reporting about the large sums of EU financial support to Turkey to prepare the country to join the union.
Mehmet lives in a small town in South Eastern Turkey, and he called a fake consultant promising that he could deliver EU money.
OK, I get it. How much does it cost?
In order to organize all your papers, I take twenty-five billion lire.
You mean that for twenty-five billion you will fix the whole project?
Yes, from A to Z. You do not need to do anything, just sign the paper.
OK, call Ankara and come back to me on this number. OK?
Ok, so this is your number. I'll call Ankara right away.
Mehmet is a farmer in a small town in South Eastern Turkey. He tells us that a consultant promises to arrange for EU support from Ankara to the peasants who themselves have no idea how to apply for grants.
For 25 billion Turkish lire, equivalent to 125 000 Swedish kronor, the so called consultant promises to get EU funding for a project on livestock.
A black market for people who call themselves consultants has emerged. They have the right contacts in Ankara and they know how an application should look like in order to be granted.
They also know how to charge the peasants. It was such a fake consultant Mehmet called and then met.
”Yes, either you pay like ten thousand euros for advice and to fill in application forms or they require that they get to be a partner of the project. Since I do not have any money, I cannot pay him. There will be no project,” Mehmet explains.
It is not only in the poor parts of Turkey there are irregularities in how EU financial support is being used. In Ankara, there are a series of new words to describe the organizations that are created just to get the EU funds.
They’re called congos, Commercially-oriented NGOs, voluntary organizations with goals to make a profit, gongos, Governmentally oriented NGOs, voluntary associations governed by the government, and bringos, briefcase NGOs, portfolio organizations. These are some of the new concepts.
Seyda Turkmemetogularri Walsh is an international development cooperation consultant. She was recruited to an EU-funded project in Ankara which aim was to get military police and regular police to cooperate, something that is very difficult in Turkey.
Instead of engaging for example human rights organizations and parliamentarians they invited totally different players to the meetings.
At the meeting there were the hairdressers association and the trade union for automotive repairers, she says.
“When the year was over, the money had not been spent on activities. So then we bought computers for money”, Seyda Turkmemetogularri Walsh explains.
But didn’t you criticize all this?
"Yes, I did.”
And what happened?
”’Shut up. Such is life.’”
Was that what they said?
When Seyda Turkmemetogularri Walsh addressed what she perceived as a problem, the answer was that that's life and that she should shut up.
In the province of Mardin in South Eastern Turkey, the Governor Secretary Muzaffer Pasaoglu discovered many irregularities in EU-funded projects when he began to examine some of them last spring.
"When we took over the administration of the province in April we decided to examine the projects that were financed by the EU”, says Muzaffer Pasaoglu.
Muzaffer Pasaoglu started to compare applications and descriptions of the projects with the actual activities. He concluded that many organizations were simply applying to access the money even though they do not really engage in any activities.
One of the projects he examined was according to the application a project aiming at getting parents in the villages to send their daughters to school. When he travelled around the villages, people had not even heard of the project. The project only existed on paper.
We travel from the South-East, to the center of power, in the capital Ankara, where the decisions are taken. At the EU Commission's office, they suggest that we talk to Fusun Cicekoglu. She has extensive experience of voluntary work in Turkey, also of the cheaters.
Fusun Cicekoglu says she is aware of fake consultants but that they can not stop them even if they sometimes identify them at meetings, for example, in South Eastern Turkey.
”You can sometimes see from the way they dress and other things that they do not belong to the locals. But there is no way to tell them to leave the conference room. The meetings are usually open to everyone”, says Fusun Cicekoglu.
Mehmet’s contact turns out to be well informed in how EU financial support is working. He advises Mehmet to hurry up in applying before New Year’s because afterwards it will require more self-financing in the projects.
The price has risen to fifty billion Turkish lire, approximately 250 000 Swedish kronor.
Hey, did you call Ankara?
Yes, I'll explain. If you apply before 2010, there’s an advantage.
Now we want to know how much I need to pay? If you organize the project, the application and follow the whole process, how much money do you want?
We write the application and the budget and you need not bother about anything, you just pay the fifty billion.
Mehmet's name has been altered.