Esteemed Delegates of the Eurocare General Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased and honoured to be addressing you today at the General Assembly of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance.
I am the President of the Turkish Green Crescent Society, and a founding member of the Turkish Alcohol Policy Platform. I would like to start my speech by giving you some brief information about the history, vision, objectives and activities of the Green Crescent.
The Green Crescent Society is the oldest public health organization in Turkey. It was established in 1920 in solidarity with the international temperance movements, which were significant mass movements during the post war years.
It historically focused on alcohol policies until 1960. Today, however, it deals with not only alcohol, but also addiction of tobacco, drugs, gambling and technology. It is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that empowers the youth and adults through factual information to break through their addictions.
As a ninety-three year-old organization in the field of alcohol policy in Turkey, today we have branches and representatives in almost all provinces of the country. We have more than 3000 members and thousands of volunteers across the country.
The Green Crescent Society contributes to public health by developing evidence-based prevention programs and advocating for legal, social and environmental changes on the fight against addiction.
We fight against addictions that destruct the mental and physical health of the youth in cooperation with the private sector, governmental bodies and international organizations.
We work to develop contemporary strategies for dealing with alcohol consumption and for the prevention of addiction by using evidence-based scientific methods. Our efforts are especially focused on carrying out preventive social and advocacy activities aiming to create public opinion and raise awareness of the decision-makers and the general public.
As a public health organization, we mostly cooperate with educational institutions for our preventive activities. There are Green Crescent Clubs in every secondary and high school across the country. These Clubs function in compliance with the rules of the Turkish Ministry of National Education. Peer education activities are implemented through these clubs to keep children away from harmful habits.
In addition to peer education activities, each year, the anniversary of the foundation of the Green Crescent Society is celebrated as the Green Crescent Week in Turkey in the first week of March. The syllabuses of secondary and high schools cover contents on harmful habits, addictions and the concept of the Green Crescent during that week, and great numbers of activities are carried out in schools across the country during the entire month. Also during March every year, the Green Crescent Headquarter and branches launch several campaigns targeting young people.
To give a recent example, we have launched an educational project in Istanbul this year under the title of ‘The Green Crescent looking for Young Leaders’ through the Green Crescent clubs in 967 secondary schools in Istanbul. 5000 students have been educated as Green Crescent leaders, and the Green Crescent Society has been observing and helping the activities of these students by various means such as conducting surveys in their schools.
The Green Crescent today plays an important role in developing an effective alcohol policy in Turkey. Firstly, with our 93 years of experience, we have recently led the foundation of a new platform named ‘the Turkish Alcohol Policy Platform’. Several public health organizations, as well as many other organizations from various sectors, have come together to establish this platform that aims to help develop contemporary strategies on alcohol policy at national level.
Secondly, we recently organized the Global Alcohol Policy Symposium on the twenty-fifth of April in Istanbul, which was co-sponsored by the World Health Organization. Prime Minister of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Director General of WHO Dr. Margaret Chan attended the official opening ceremony of the Symposium. Many scientists, decision makers, WHO focal points from Europe, representatives of the civil society and the public health sector from more than sixty countries have participated in this Symposium, as well as Ministers of Health of four different countries and three other Turkish Ministers. Several countries shared their experiences and good practices during the symposium.
With this “Global Alcohol Policy Symposium”, we intended to increase awareness about the dangers of alcohol consumption for individuals and societies, and to compare experiences from various countries in order to find the most effective practices.
We are a new member of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance. As a European Union candidate country, Turkey is greatly influenced by the region’s policy on alcohol. We believe that Turkey is faced with the same problems as in Europe, and in seeking a solution we need more solidarity and cooperation to meet the future expectations of the European region.
As you all know, tomorrow is the World No Tobacco Day. With the participation of H.E. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan, the Green Crescent is organizing a ceremony in Istanbul under the title of ‘Success of Tobacco Control in Turkey:Release of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey’. This event is a joint organization of the Turkish Green Crescent Society and Turkish Ministry of Health. As I unfortunately have to leave the General Assembly today due to my heavy workload for the preparations of this program, my colleague Mr. Ahmet Zeki Olaş, the Director General of the Turkish Green Crescent Society, will follow the General Assembly.
As a new member of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, I esteem it a privilege and an honour to be addressing you today in this General Assembly. Before leaving the floor, I would like to extend my thanks to Eurocare President Ms. Tiziana Codenotti, Secretary General Ms. Mariann Skar and Eurocare Board for their kind invitation. I wish you all a fruitful two days.