Foreign aid during the COVID-19 pandemic evidence from Turkey

Bugra GüNGöR

Turkey provided medical aid to more than 70 countries during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explains the distribution of Turkish medical aid across countries relying on a novel dataset which draws on online news published by Turkey’s state-run news agency and a pro-government news outlet between February 1st and July 31st, 2020. The findings show that receiving Turkish medical aid is extensively related to the determinants underlying Turkey’s foreign aid policy. In particular, recipient countries’ historical ties to the Ottoman Empire, their level of imports from Turkey, and their needs based on the state of their general health system are seen to be significant predictors of receiving Turkish medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. Regarding partial evidence of cultural similarity, Turkic identity is a predictor of receiving medical aid, whereas Islamic affinity does not have a significant association. Therefore, I find that Turkey has adopted a selective strategy in response to an indiscriminately damaging crisis while keeping a majority of the elements of its foreign aid repertoire in play.