Life at the 'Lik: Donating in Turkey: the right way!

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Editor's note: This article is part of a series designed to provide in-depth information to both current and future members of Team Incirlik about topics specific to Incirlik and Turkey. The goal is to assist Airmen and families in making informed decisions about their move to the area and to provide guidance about local policies, procedures and quality of life matters.

The Turkish call it smuggling, Americans call it black-marketing and an Airman may simply call it giving a gift. Depending on who is on the other side of any transaction, something as innocent as having a yard sale, giving a gift or donating to a local charity could be considered black-marketing.

In 1980, the U.S. and Turkish government implemented a Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement, which sets the guidelines for fostering military, economic and social development within Turkey. As part of this agreement, American citizens are not permitted to sell or transfer any items not purchased on the Turkish economy to a Turkish national. Doing so is a violation of the agreement and is considered black marketing.

"It's important that every Airman and family member understand the laws of our host nation and our agreements," said Col. Craig Wills, 39th Air Base Wing commander. "Black-marketing results in increased costs to the American taxpayer and is a crime. The 39 ABW has a zero tolerance policy for illegal activity."

Under DECA, Turkish nationals are not entitled to duty free goods, which means even selling an item at a yard sale could be considered black-marketing. To ensure service members and their families are following the DECA, the legal office suggests members verify a buyer's military or dependent identification card before selling an item during a yard sale.

According to Capt. Jeremy Grunert, 39th Air Base Wing Legal Office chief of legal assistance, black-marketing isn't just a concern during yard sales, even giving a gift to a Turkish national can be considered black-marketing.

An exception to the policy allows Americans who are hosting or visiting a Turkish national, to give a small amount of consumable items such as food or beverages. However, if a person would like to give items on a larger scale, such as giving to charity, there are still guidelines that must be followed to ensure black-marketing is avoided.

"When giving to charities off base, there are a couple things to keep in mind," said Grunert. "If you are talking about a local Turkish charity or something of that nature where you would actually be donating goods, probably the safest thing to do is actually buy those goods on the Turkish economy."

Grunert also stated one way to give to charity without the issue of black-marketing is through a monetary donation. However, it is advised that members do thorough research on any organization before contributing to them in order to ensure the charity is reputable and know where the money is going and how it will be used.

For Airmen or family members who want to donate items to a local charity, they can do so as long as they are donating items purchased on the Turkish economy. Under certain provisions donating items such as used clothing is permitted, but members are advised to check with the legal office for guidelines.

For questions or concerns regarding gift-giving, donating to a local charity, or black-marketing, contact the legal office at 676-6800. More details on black market can be found here: http://www.incirlik.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-150108-001.pdf