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Public Diplomacy

Turkey

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OverviewEdit

From a public diplomacy standpoint, Turkey has several advantages. The country has undergone vast political and economic reform that has paved the way for a more stable, democratically governed society. It has a rich history and culture dating back to the Ottoman Empire, and its strategic location serves as a bridge between Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Turkey's relatively strong connections with the Western world, on the other hand, open up further international opportunities.

Moreover, its unique status as a modern Muslim country, with tolerance and respect to different ethnic, religious, and sectarian groups, ensures a distinctive identity for Turkey in the international arena.

PDI GUL2 Turkey 08012008

Abdullah Gul is the current president of Turkey

Turkey’s progress is viewed by many as overwhelmingly beneficial to the Middle East region, marking the first solid democracy there. In a 2006 speech to The Brookings Institution, current president Mr. Abdullah Gul noted the profound ramifications of Turkish success. He argued that the Turkish experience proved that Islam is compatible with democracy, and as such, provides inspiration for other Muslim societies seeking reform and good governance.

Furthermore, the Turkish government's recent steps has provided a stable ground for multidimensional public diplomacy initiatives. While the current leadership launch a very pro-active public diplomacy strategy, public diplomacy is a new concept for Turkey's non-governmental actors such as media, academia, and civilian movements.

However, Turkey's public diplomacy experiences could be realized in its history; during the 1920s, Kemal Ataturk—the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey—repeatedly commented on his desire to “consolidate the moral bonds between nations.” He underlined the importance of language, faith, and history as facilitators of these bonds, and also assisted Afghanistan by supporting its modernization through the use of military personnel, scholars, doctors and trainers. This international assistance is one of the earliest, if not first, examples of state-to-state development-centered public diplomacy activity.[1]

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Sultan Ahmet Mosque in Istanbul

Stemming from this tradition,Turkey has conducted a number of successful public diplomacy initiatives throughout the years, a prime example being its practice of sending touring exhibitions around the world to promote Turkish cultural heritage and address misperceptions. One exhibition, entitled “Turkey: The Continuing Magnificence” (1987-1988), tried to shed a more positive light on the rule of the Ottoman Empire and Turkish cultural contributions to world history.
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Ottoman ceramic tile

Another exhibit, entitled “Suleiman, the Magnificent,” challenged the commonly held warlike perceptions of the Ottoman Sultan by emphasizing his role as a reformer in the arts and architecture. This exhibition captured the attention of the international media and the public, thus serving to promote an alternative view of Turkish history and culture and alter negative stereotypes attached to the Ottomans. In 2005, another exhibition, entitled “Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600-1600,” opened at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. This exhibition introduced the artistic and cultural riches of Turkish-speaking people by tracing aspects of ‘Turkishness’ from the eastern border of modern China to the Balkans in the west. It was one of the most ambitious exhibitions ever presented there, and it raised over £795,000—the highest grossing project in the history of the Royal Academy.

In Turkey, there are numerous government and private organizations which conduct activities related to public diplomacy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and the Ministry of Economy, all work to promote Turkey through their diplomatic missions in foreign countries. Turkey also performs public diplomacy by providing developmental assistance and technical support to countries in the developing world through the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA).

The Ministry of National Defense performs public diplomacy activities through its military exchange and training programs as well. Turkey has consistently made significant contributions to various international peacekeeping activities conducted by the United Nations, NATO, and the EU, spanning from the Balkans to Afghanistan. Turkish troops have therefore bolstered Turkey’s image as a guarantor of peace and stability.

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Accession talks continue between Turkey and the EU

Business enterprises also work on improving Turkey’s image in order to strengthen economic relations with foreign countries. Such groups include the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association, the Exporters Assembly, the Foreign Economic Relations Board.

On the other hand, Turkish government offers scholarship for Associate, Undergraduate and Graduate (Master/PhD) studies as well as for Research and Turkish Language Summer Courses through the Türkiye Bursları / Scholarship Program . In this vein, about 2000 scholarships are provided to foreign students from various countries in accordance with the bilateral agreements and Cultural Exchange Programs. The scholarship cover a wide range of fields including political science, international affairs, law, engineering, Islamic studies, agriculture, economics, journalism, history, sociology, architecture etc. Scholarships are provided to 127 countries and they are total 1280 by the end of 2009. For the academic term of 2010-11, Turkish government provided 1685 scholarships to foreign students and for 2011-12 academic term they were total 1929. 

In 2010, the Prime Ministry's Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD) was established to provide for the coordination between the public agencies and organizations and non-government organizations, on the course of promoting Turkey in international community and enhancing her credibility. The OPD carries out various activities such as public diplomacy panels, foreign policy workshops, youth programs, country meetings, wise people conferences and journalist comitee programs. On the other hand, OPD effectively uses social media platforms. OPD publishes tweets in Turkish, English, Arabic and French (Turkish account is followed by more than 35.000 users, while English one is followed by about 7.000) and manages a Facebook page (more than 5.000 members).

While it is true that Turkey has a rich historical legacy, the country cannot dwell only on glories of the past; it must create new triumphs in the twenty-first century. 

Vital InformationEdit

PDI mapTurkey 08012008
  • Capital - Ankara
  • Population - 75 627 384 (December 2012 est.)
  • Government - Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Republic
  • President Abdullah Gul
  • Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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Government AgenciesEdit

Turkish Red Crescent Emblem

Non-Governmental OrganizationsEdit

Official Speeches & StatementsEdit

International News Sources - Official & PrivateEdit

International EntertainmentEdit

  • Indir
    Turkey's Tourism Portal

Public Opinion & National StatisticsEdit

Leading NewspapersEdit

Other ResourcesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. “Turkey’s Political Relations with Afghanistan”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 October 2007

Further ReadingEdit

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