GEKA promotes Aegean's traditions
The Southern Aegean Development Agency (GEKA), which operates predominantly in the provinces of Aydın, Denizli and Muğla, has prepared several promotional brochures that focus on certain cultural treasures that are under threat. Namely, Yatağan Bıçakları (Yatağan knives), Ters Lale (an Aegean tulip), Milas Halısı (Milas carpets) and Körüklü Çizmeleri (Manisa boots).

GEKA General Secretary Mehmet Aydıner said the organization's aim was to see the region become one of the top 10 in Turkey by bringing about reforms in areas such as agriculture, education and tourism. Aydıner noted that GEKA had introduced a development plan in 2012 based on province grades: "After analysis, we denoted places as strong, having weak opportunity and under threat. In this way we were able to identify strategies for development in different regions. With our focus on promoting the region this past year, we also prepared a brochure devoted to some of the fast-disappearing cultural treasures of the region, including
Yatağan Bıçakları, Ters Lale, Milas Halısı and the Körüklü Çizme. We are also continuing with our promotional efforts and our Southern Aegean Tastes project, with a view to promoting regional cuisine nationally and internationally."

Aydıner said GEKA's 2012 budget was TL 14,600,000, and with these funds, the agency has designed support programs with the aim of raising the competitive status of the region in the light of targeted goals and in-depth regional analysis. "We publicly announced the 2012 Financial Support Program, which offered incentives for certain local crafts and our agency received 134 project proposals within the framework of this program."

He added: "Potential project directors and investors who visit our GEKA investment support offices in Aydın, Denizli and Muğla receive information about appropriate support mechanisms for these projects. Our Investment Support Offices use what we call an Effective Investment Strategy [YES], offering a comprehensive range of investment support, such as research on appropriate land sites, research into potential international partners and information on professional contacts. Plus, in keeping with the agency's mission of sharing information, our experts create and present sector investment reports and carry out feasibility studies for individual projects.

"These development agencies have the effect of unifying regional institutions and speeding up service. They are able to identify regional needs and problems and then relay this information to more central organizations with reliable data. Thus, not only do the agencies provide vital resources for planning, they are also able to provide 'pointed' solutions to some of the more pressing regional problems. One of the advantages with GEKA working in a region where prosperity is already high is that it can make one of its top priorities fostering cooperation between organizations, and of joint projects. We are also playing a leading role in developing qualified human resources, as well as the capacity of individual organizations."

Aydın, Denizli and Muğla -- all three provinces that GEKA is responsible for -- have not only been able to protect and preserve the cultural treasures in their areas from ancient times, but also enjoy being in a region with high potential, high prosperity and where investment is very attractive. The region is highly competitive and thus enjoys an advantage when it comes to competition. With additional support from GEKA, strength is only being added to the already-strong regional characteristics. There is a sense of unity between the natural, historical and cultural treasures in the region with an entrepreneurial spirit and innovativeness. "We are aiming at realizing our vision of being a region with unique agricultural production, top quality industrial products and tourism that lasts all four seasons of the year. We will continue down the path of aiming for further development in Aydın, Denizli and Muğla, of increasing regional competitiveness at both a national and international level, and supporting both employment and new sectors in the region."

GEKA is continuing its series of cultural promotional brochures -- which has already covered regional cultural heritage items such as Yatağan Bıçakları and Ters Lale -- with a new brochure called "Symbol of majesty; Söke accordion boot."

This brochure was prepared to remind those who may have forgotten, and teach those who had never known about the footwear worn by some of the swashbuckling heroes of the region from bygone eras such as Yörük Ali and Çakırcalı Mehmet Efe.

Aydıner said: "The Soke accordion boot brochure is the fourth in our series this year, a series devoted to spotlighting regional cultural treasures which might otherwise be on their way to being forgotten … We believe that this brochure will be just as popular as the first three, and that ultimately it will help not only our region but the entire country. Our experts met with officials from the Söke Provincial Governor's Office, the Söke Municipality and the Aydın Province Culture and Tourism Directorate while working on the brochure. Their research led them to the workshops where the boots were still being produced according to the original tradition."

He added: "Next are brochures on Karacasu pottery, Güllübahçe cloth dolls, Yeşilyuva shoe-making, Çal grapes, Kavaklıdere copperwork and Bodrum schooners. We plan to finish these as soon as possible. We are also continuing our work on the Southern Aegean Tastes project, with the aim of researching the feasibility of gourmet tourism in our region, as well as promoting our region's cuisine."

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-22 18:00:02
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