Turkısh Foreıgn Polıcy 1 Dersi 7. Ünite Özet

09.08.2022
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Public Diplomacy And Soft Power İn Recent Turkish Foreign Policy

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Public Diplomacy And Soft Power İn Recent Turkish Foreign Policy

Public Diplomacy and Soft Power: Two Components of the New Turkish Foreign Policy

Two main factors are critically important in public diplomacy in global politics. The first one is that states have made gaining the support of public opinion a foreign policy aim due to the importance of the social dimension in global politics. In this context, gaining the support of public opinion refers to a state’s having and exerting soft power. This is because the increasing importance of societies has made it necessary for states to win the public opinion, along with the representatives of states, for their cause. In classical diplomacy, only winning the representatives of states would be seen as adequate for their cause.

Secondly, the visualization of everyday life by the information and communication technologies has brought about the phenomenon of visibility in foreign policy. In global politics, this has made it necessary for states to present their policies with an attractive visual image in an attempt to carry them out successfully. Moreover, it has brought the necessity of presenting not only the policies but also the actors themselves with an attractive image to the public and the international community. What became gradually important is not the successfulness of a state’s foreign policy, but the execution of this policy and the concepts it communicates as well as the representation of these concepts in international press and social media. As these two main factors increased the importance of public diplomacy in global politics, especially in the 2000s, states intensified their public diplomacy practices.

The implementation of modern and institutional public diplomacy in Turkish foreign policy and the institutionalization of public diplomacy took place for the first time under the Justice and Development Party (JDP) governments in the 2000s. There are two key dynamics of this: the first is the JDP’s policy of presenting itself as a model to the world, especially to the Middle Eastern countries. Secondly, the high commercial/economic performance of Turkey, which was the 16th biggest economy in the world in the 2000s, allowed the application of a public diplomacy, which requires a high level of spending. Although public diplomacy is based upon soft-power tools, its implementation requires “hard dollars.” In this context, for the first time, Turkey built and promoted new institutions and new policies for the sake of international public policy. First, the Yunus Emre Institute was established in 2007 in order to carry out cultural diplomacy as a form of public diplomacy. In 2010, the Prime Ministry Coordinating Office of Public Diplomacy was established. Also in 2010, the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities were established to carry out the diaspora diplomacy. All these efforts and accomplishments have been made possible by what is known as soft power.

According to Nye, “soft power is the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payment. A country’s soft power rests on its resources of culture, values, and policies. A smart power strategy combines hard and soft power resources. Public diplomacy has a long history as a means of promoting a country’s soft power and was essential in winning the Cold War”.

Soft power, which became a trendy concept during the 2000s in Turkish foreign policy, was mostly used in the context of Middle East politics and as a euphemism for Turkey’s being a role model to be followed in the region. Since the use of the concept of “Turkish model” might be perceived negatively by some states and interpreted as an expansionist policy in the Middle East, Turkey’s Middle East policy was mainly defined and launched through the concept of soft power. Moreover, unlike previous eras, in the 2000s, Turkey tried to execute its Middle East initiative on socio-cultural and political-economic levels.

Turkey has implemented its public diplomacy by way of various institutions such as the Yunus Emre Institute, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), the Presidency of the Office of Public Diplomacy, the Deputy General for Cultural Diplomacy, and the Directorate of Public Diplomacy and Public Communication. During the JDP governments, Turkey has actively implemented public diplomacy through soft power discourse.

Public Diplomacy and the Restructuring of Some State Institutions in Turkey

Public diplomacy institutions are the new actors in Turkish foreign policy and they have served as the new channels and mechanisms for defining and implementing the recent policies. These new institutions have established the civilian aspect of Turkish foreign policy that helps conduct public diplomacy through soft-power activities from a social perspective rather than through policy practices of a hard-power approach. The newly established public diplomacy institutions are also a product of the restructuring of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Under the JDP governments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been restructured in order to make it more compatible with the newly defined foreign-policy objectives and the changing global system. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been reorganized with the latest amendment of its organizational act that was adopted on July 13, 2010. With this act and the new soft policy aims, ten new general directorates were inaugurated within the Ministry. Among these, the General Directorate of Information, the General Directorate of Overseas Promotion and Cultural Relations, and the Deputy General Directorate of Cultural Diplomacy may be singled out because of their importance and relevance to public diplomacy.

The Public Diplomacy Coordination Office of the Prime Ministry was later renamed the Office of Public Diplomacy. The Coordination Office was established with a presidential memorandum on January 30, 2010, under the Prime Ministry of Turkey for the purpose of influencing and guiding the international community. The structure of the Office consists of such units as the Media Works, Political Communication, Cultural Works, Corporate Works, and Project Development. The primary activities of the Office include organizing public diplomacy panels, foreign policy promotion programs, foreign policy workshops, and youth programs in Turkey.

Organizing public diplomacy panels can be considered as an activity for promoting JDP’s foreign policy agenda to some circles, including university students and academicians. Communication activities of public diplomacy are organized under various formats and names, including country meetings, wise people conferences, European meetings, panels, and Istanbul Global Forum. Therefore, communication activities are considered as a political communication activity limited to the academic aspect of public diplomacy. Country meetings bring together experts of the think tanks and researchers around world with their counterparts in Turkey. Moreover, these meetings aim to build a ground for systematic communication and connection among local and foreign researchers, academicians, journalists, and politicians. However, the scope of the Office has almost been narrowed to inward-oriented activities. Besides, one may argue that the Office has an approach to public diplomacy in a way to present itself as merely a tool to influence the international community.

The Yunus Emre Institute as Part of Turkish Public Diplomacy and Turkish Soft Power

The Yunus Emre Institute is a relatively young organization compared to its counterparts in some other countries. For example, the Alliance Française was established in 1883, the British Council in 1934, and the Goethe Institut in 1951. The Yunus Emre Institute (YEI), as the first Turkish organization to conduct cultural diplomacy, was established in 2009. The Institute aims at expanding the cultural influence of Turkey in the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East. The Institute tries to achieve these objectives through introducing and promoting Turkish language, history, culture, and art around the world. Although the Yunus Emre Institute operates as a non-governmental organization (NGO) according to its by-laws, it is affiliated with both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. This makes it a government-sponsored organization rather than an independent enterprise. Moreover, the President of Turkey is the honorary chair of the Board of Trustees.

In the International Relations literature, cultural diplomacy is defined as nurturing mutual understanding between states and their peoples through the exchange of ideas, knowledge, art, and other components of culture. More specifically, cultural diplomacy is the use of cultural activities for diplomatic purposes. It is the conceptualization of cultural relations between states in the context of public diplomacy at the individual and social level. Since culture and art have been used as a tool of foreign policy throughout history, it is understood that cultural diplomacy is not a new phenomenon. What is new today is the fact that the use of cultural activities to generate soft power through public diplomacy becomes much more important due to globalization as well as the advent of information and communication technologies. In short, cultural diplomacy has become a component of international public diplomacy.

Teaching the Turkish language has gradually become the main duty and function of the centers. This is in line with the objective of making Turkish a world language and, in fact, this strategy is part of Turkey’s aspiration to become a global actor. The activity of teaching Turkish as a foreign language began in 2009 at the Sarajevo center with 45 students and 3 instructors. Currently there are 99 instructors working in 27 countries and, as of 2012, the total number of students learning Turkish at the centers reached 3459. The institute is planned to be the only institution qualified for teaching Turkish to foreigners around the world.

The Yunus Emre Institute conducts the following projects:

  • the project of Turkology,
  • the project of Turkish as a Foreign Language,
  • the project of Turkish as an elective course in foreign schools,
  • the project of rebuilding cultural heritage in the Balkans,
  • the project of reviving the traditional Turkish handcraft in the Balkans,
  • the project of 100 Turkish libraries,
  • the project of translating 100 Turkish books, and
  • the project of joint painting exhibitions.

The New Turkish Institutions on Diaspora Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, and Humanitarian Diplomacy

The development assistance and humanitarian aid of states to countries in need is called foreign aid and humanitarian diplomacy. It is called foreign aid diplomacy or humanitarian diplomacy when states provide emergency humanitarian aid in cases of natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods. However, the difference between humanitarian diplomacy and humanitarian foreign policy should not be overlooked. Humanitarian foreign policy refers to state institutions’ aid (development assistance and urgent humanitarian aid), whereas in humanitarian diplomacy, there is immediate humanitarian aid to the victims by sub-state or non-state organizations. Humanitarian diplomacy is mostly carried out through informal relations in armed conflicts, while humanitarian foreign policy is carried out by diplomats and government officials. In short, the most distinctive feature of humanitarian diplomacy is its civilian nature.

The Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (Yurtdışı Türkler ve Akraba Toplulukları Başkanlığı – YTB) is one of the new institutions launched by the JDP governments. It was established as an agency under the Prime Ministry on March 24, 2010. The YTB was established to perform functions related to Turkish citizens living abroad and to find solutions to their problems as well as to carry out activities to develop social, cultural, and economic relations with the cognate and related communities. Article 62 of the Constitution of the Turkish Republic provides a legal ground for the YTB. The target groups of the YTB are Turkish citizens as well as cognate and related communities living abroad. Its vision is “wherever our relative is, wherever our citizen is, Turkey will stay aside”. This is considered to be the motto of the YTB that aspires to find solutions to problems of the Turks, kin communities, and related communities living abroad toward strengthening their relations with Turkey and host countries and maintaining their cultural values.

It may be assumed that the YTB aspires to transform this potential of relations into an organized diaspora like that of Israel and Armenia. In fact, the establishment of the YTB is a sign showing that Turkey started to develop a policy for diaspora and lobbying that has been neglected for a long time in Turkish foreign policy. This policy of building a global diaspora community is part of the JDP’s political strategy representing the Muslims around the world and strengthening the political philosophy of democratic Islam. Moreover, the policy of diaspora may also be considered as part of the JDP’s grand strategy of turning Turkey into a global actor. In addition, promoting a diaspora diplomacy is important with respect to Turkey’s public diplomacy, and it contributes to gaining a leverage in international relations, especially in the Islamic world. It is obvious that Turkey needs a diaspora community that would serve as a lobby group and as a bulwark against the pseudo-genocide drafts of some countries that might damage the image of Turkey.

Under the JDP governments, the total development assistance of Turkey reached more than three billion U.S. Dollars. While the budget of the OECD-DAC member countries allocated for official development assistance decreased by 4 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, Turkey increased its external assistance by nearly 100 percent to a total of 2 billion and 533 million U.S. Dollars. For example, the assistance of TİKA between 2002 and 2012 was increased by seven times compared with the period of 1992-2002. The benefactor country policy and the objective of becoming a global actor may help explain Turkey’s volume of external assistance. As one of the soft power tools of foreign policy, the external assistance is expected to promote Turkey’s perception as an attractive country, which is a candidate for globalpower status. From this perspective, it may be argued that the activities of the TİKA are a key tool to further empower Turkey.

The TİKA has helped diversify Turkish foreign policy and augment it through the soft power tools and societalcultural activities. It has not only established a cooperation structure for Turkey with the beneficiary countries (those countries that have received the Turkish assistance) but also promoted historical, cultural and social links with these countries. Essentially, the infrastructure projects such as building schools and hospitals laid the foundation for close relations with the beneficiary countries and created a positive atmosphere for the future important policies that Turkey wants to implement.

Public Diplomacy and Soft Power: Two Components of the New Turkish Foreign Policy

Two main factors are critically important in public diplomacy in global politics. The first one is that states have made gaining the support of public opinion a foreign policy aim due to the importance of the social dimension in global politics. In this context, gaining the support of public opinion refers to a state’s having and exerting soft power. This is because the increasing importance of societies has made it necessary for states to win the public opinion, along with the representatives of states, for their cause. In classical diplomacy, only winning the representatives of states would be seen as adequate for their cause.

Secondly, the visualization of everyday life by the information and communication technologies has brought about the phenomenon of visibility in foreign policy. In global politics, this has made it necessary for states to present their policies with an attractive visual image in an attempt to carry them out successfully. Moreover, it has brought the necessity of presenting not only the policies but also the actors themselves with an attractive image to the public and the international community. What became gradually important is not the successfulness of a state’s foreign policy, but the execution of this policy and the concepts it communicates as well as the representation of these concepts in international press and social media. As these two main factors increased the importance of public diplomacy in global politics, especially in the 2000s, states intensified their public diplomacy practices.

The implementation of modern and institutional public diplomacy in Turkish foreign policy and the institutionalization of public diplomacy took place for the first time under the Justice and Development Party (JDP) governments in the 2000s. There are two key dynamics of this: the first is the JDP’s policy of presenting itself as a model to the world, especially to the Middle Eastern countries. Secondly, the high commercial/economic performance of Turkey, which was the 16th biggest economy in the world in the 2000s, allowed the application of a public diplomacy, which requires a high level of spending. Although public diplomacy is based upon soft-power tools, its implementation requires “hard dollars.” In this context, for the first time, Turkey built and promoted new institutions and new policies for the sake of international public policy. First, the Yunus Emre Institute was established in 2007 in order to carry out cultural diplomacy as a form of public diplomacy. In 2010, the Prime Ministry Coordinating Office of Public Diplomacy was established. Also in 2010, the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities were established to carry out the diaspora diplomacy. All these efforts and accomplishments have been made possible by what is known as soft power.

According to Nye, “soft power is the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payment. A country’s soft power rests on its resources of culture, values, and policies. A smart power strategy combines hard and soft power resources. Public diplomacy has a long history as a means of promoting a country’s soft power and was essential in winning the Cold War”.

Soft power, which became a trendy concept during the 2000s in Turkish foreign policy, was mostly used in the context of Middle East politics and as a euphemism for Turkey’s being a role model to be followed in the region. Since the use of the concept of “Turkish model” might be perceived negatively by some states and interpreted as an expansionist policy in the Middle East, Turkey’s Middle East policy was mainly defined and launched through the concept of soft power. Moreover, unlike previous eras, in the 2000s, Turkey tried to execute its Middle East initiative on socio-cultural and political-economic levels.

Turkey has implemented its public diplomacy by way of various institutions such as the Yunus Emre Institute, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), the Presidency of the Office of Public Diplomacy, the Deputy General for Cultural Diplomacy, and the Directorate of Public Diplomacy and Public Communication. During the JDP governments, Turkey has actively implemented public diplomacy through soft power discourse.

Public Diplomacy and the Restructuring of Some State Institutions in Turkey

Public diplomacy institutions are the new actors in Turkish foreign policy and they have served as the new channels and mechanisms for defining and implementing the recent policies. These new institutions have established the civilian aspect of Turkish foreign policy that helps conduct public diplomacy through soft-power activities from a social perspective rather than through policy practices of a hard-power approach. The newly established public diplomacy institutions are also a product of the restructuring of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Under the JDP governments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been restructured in order to make it more compatible with the newly defined foreign-policy objectives and the changing global system. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been reorganized with the latest amendment of its organizational act that was adopted on July 13, 2010. With this act and the new soft policy aims, ten new general directorates were inaugurated within the Ministry. Among these, the General Directorate of Information, the General Directorate of Overseas Promotion and Cultural Relations, and the Deputy General Directorate of Cultural Diplomacy may be singled out because of their importance and relevance to public diplomacy.

The Public Diplomacy Coordination Office of the Prime Ministry was later renamed the Office of Public Diplomacy. The Coordination Office was established with a presidential memorandum on January 30, 2010, under the Prime Ministry of Turkey for the purpose of influencing and guiding the international community. The structure of the Office consists of such units as the Media Works, Political Communication, Cultural Works, Corporate Works, and Project Development. The primary activities of the Office include organizing public diplomacy panels, foreign policy promotion programs, foreign policy workshops, and youth programs in Turkey.

Organizing public diplomacy panels can be considered as an activity for promoting JDP’s foreign policy agenda to some circles, including university students and academicians. Communication activities of public diplomacy are organized under various formats and names, including country meetings, wise people conferences, European meetings, panels, and Istanbul Global Forum. Therefore, communication activities are considered as a political communication activity limited to the academic aspect of public diplomacy. Country meetings bring together experts of the think tanks and researchers around world with their counterparts in Turkey. Moreover, these meetings aim to build a ground for systematic communication and connection among local and foreign researchers, academicians, journalists, and politicians. However, the scope of the Office has almost been narrowed to inward-oriented activities. Besides, one may argue that the Office has an approach to public diplomacy in a way to present itself as merely a tool to influence the international community.

The Yunus Emre Institute as Part of Turkish Public Diplomacy and Turkish Soft Power

The Yunus Emre Institute is a relatively young organization compared to its counterparts in some other countries. For example, the Alliance Française was established in 1883, the British Council in 1934, and the Goethe Institut in 1951. The Yunus Emre Institute (YEI), as the first Turkish organization to conduct cultural diplomacy, was established in 2009. The Institute aims at expanding the cultural influence of Turkey in the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East. The Institute tries to achieve these objectives through introducing and promoting Turkish language, history, culture, and art around the world. Although the Yunus Emre Institute operates as a non-governmental organization (NGO) according to its by-laws, it is affiliated with both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. This makes it a government-sponsored organization rather than an independent enterprise. Moreover, the President of Turkey is the honorary chair of the Board of Trustees.

In the International Relations literature, cultural diplomacy is defined as nurturing mutual understanding between states and their peoples through the exchange of ideas, knowledge, art, and other components of culture. More specifically, cultural diplomacy is the use of cultural activities for diplomatic purposes. It is the conceptualization of cultural relations between states in the context of public diplomacy at the individual and social level. Since culture and art have been used as a tool of foreign policy throughout history, it is understood that cultural diplomacy is not a new phenomenon. What is new today is the fact that the use of cultural activities to generate soft power through public diplomacy becomes much more important due to globalization as well as the advent of information and communication technologies. In short, cultural diplomacy has become a component of international public diplomacy.

Teaching the Turkish language has gradually become the main duty and function of the centers. This is in line with the objective of making Turkish a world language and, in fact, this strategy is part of Turkey’s aspiration to become a global actor. The activity of teaching Turkish as a foreign language began in 2009 at the Sarajevo center with 45 students and 3 instructors. Currently there are 99 instructors working in 27 countries and, as of 2012, the total number of students learning Turkish at the centers reached 3459. The institute is planned to be the only institution qualified for teaching Turkish to foreigners around the world.

The Yunus Emre Institute conducts the following projects:

  • the project of Turkology,
  • the project of Turkish as a Foreign Language,
  • the project of Turkish as an elective course in foreign schools,
  • the project of rebuilding cultural heritage in the Balkans,
  • the project of reviving the traditional Turkish handcraft in the Balkans,
  • the project of 100 Turkish libraries,
  • the project of translating 100 Turkish books, and
  • the project of joint painting exhibitions.

The New Turkish Institutions on Diaspora Diplomacy, Foreign Aid, and Humanitarian Diplomacy

The development assistance and humanitarian aid of states to countries in need is called foreign aid and humanitarian diplomacy. It is called foreign aid diplomacy or humanitarian diplomacy when states provide emergency humanitarian aid in cases of natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods. However, the difference between humanitarian diplomacy and humanitarian foreign policy should not be overlooked. Humanitarian foreign policy refers to state institutions’ aid (development assistance and urgent humanitarian aid), whereas in humanitarian diplomacy, there is immediate humanitarian aid to the victims by sub-state or non-state organizations. Humanitarian diplomacy is mostly carried out through informal relations in armed conflicts, while humanitarian foreign policy is carried out by diplomats and government officials. In short, the most distinctive feature of humanitarian diplomacy is its civilian nature.

The Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (Yurtdışı Türkler ve Akraba Toplulukları Başkanlığı – YTB) is one of the new institutions launched by the JDP governments. It was established as an agency under the Prime Ministry on March 24, 2010. The YTB was established to perform functions related to Turkish citizens living abroad and to find solutions to their problems as well as to carry out activities to develop social, cultural, and economic relations with the cognate and related communities. Article 62 of the Constitution of the Turkish Republic provides a legal ground for the YTB. The target groups of the YTB are Turkish citizens as well as cognate and related communities living abroad. Its vision is “wherever our relative is, wherever our citizen is, Turkey will stay aside”. This is considered to be the motto of the YTB that aspires to find solutions to problems of the Turks, kin communities, and related communities living abroad toward strengthening their relations with Turkey and host countries and maintaining their cultural values.

It may be assumed that the YTB aspires to transform this potential of relations into an organized diaspora like that of Israel and Armenia. In fact, the establishment of the YTB is a sign showing that Turkey started to develop a policy for diaspora and lobbying that has been neglected for a long time in Turkish foreign policy. This policy of building a global diaspora community is part of the JDP’s political strategy representing the Muslims around the world and strengthening the political philosophy of democratic Islam. Moreover, the policy of diaspora may also be considered as part of the JDP’s grand strategy of turning Turkey into a global actor. In addition, promoting a diaspora diplomacy is important with respect to Turkey’s public diplomacy, and it contributes to gaining a leverage in international relations, especially in the Islamic world. It is obvious that Turkey needs a diaspora community that would serve as a lobby group and as a bulwark against the pseudo-genocide drafts of some countries that might damage the image of Turkey.

Under the JDP governments, the total development assistance of Turkey reached more than three billion U.S. Dollars. While the budget of the OECD-DAC member countries allocated for official development assistance decreased by 4 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, Turkey increased its external assistance by nearly 100 percent to a total of 2 billion and 533 million U.S. Dollars. For example, the assistance of TİKA between 2002 and 2012 was increased by seven times compared with the period of 1992-2002. The benefactor country policy and the objective of becoming a global actor may help explain Turkey’s volume of external assistance. As one of the soft power tools of foreign policy, the external assistance is expected to promote Turkey’s perception as an attractive country, which is a candidate for globalpower status. From this perspective, it may be argued that the activities of the TİKA are a key tool to further empower Turkey.

The TİKA has helped diversify Turkish foreign policy and augment it through the soft power tools and societalcultural activities. It has not only established a cooperation structure for Turkey with the beneficiary countries (those countries that have received the Turkish assistance) but also promoted historical, cultural and social links with these countries. Essentially, the infrastructure projects such as building schools and hospitals laid the foundation for close relations with the beneficiary countries and created a positive atmosphere for the future important policies that Turkey wants to implement.

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