The postal service is known as a vital communication channel embellished with knowledge and social values. There is no question that in today's world of constant change, shaped by technology and human ingenuity, the value of the post is a critical element that was being neglected. However, the international community is now more than ever aware of the need for an inclusive postal service after observing the severe financial and social problems brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
For some reason, unfortunately, adequate attention was not paid to the social aspect of the postal service for the past several years. Even people in the postal sector failed to recognize the unique connection between the post and social elements forming societies for a considerable time. The quest to further promote this connection and raise the quality of the postal service should be the driving factors to overcome these deficiencies.
When it comes to Turkey, a historical crossroads for civilizations, cultures and postal routes throughout history, there has been a growing and developing awareness concerning the feeling of being part of the post for many years. The Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization (PTT), known as the center of trust in the eyes of the public, is seen as a key component of Turkish social life. It would be a direct contribution to communal living if it could further cement these ties and connections.
For the first time in the history of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the 26th Congress was held in Turkey in 2016. This was of great historical significance. It is still considered a momentous moment both in the development of Turkey's international communications infrastructure and PTT's corporate history. In this sense, Turkey took every phase of organizing this splendid gathering very seriously with the aim of making the very most of the event.
All attending countries had full schedules for three weeks, and it did feel quite productive. It was a great opportunity for Turkey to be in a position to channel and unify aspects that were vital for the future of the postal and logistics industries, such as new service channels, quality of service, new products and services, e-commerce, key aspects of logistics and many more issues of very great concern. Turkey was at the center of promoting the quality of global postal services.
The efforts made by Turkey during the congress to involve African members as well as other countries of less developed regions into the international financial system is worth mentioning. As is known, Africa is the most vulnerable and neglected continent in the United Nations system.
For that reason, a great weight was attached to the cooperation between Turkey and African countries with an aim of improving their digital infrastructures via e-commerce through the postal channel. Although it may seem like a financial initiative, it was more of a human touch that could respond successfully to social and economic deprivation.
It is important to see that Turkey's principal focal point was to ensure greater unity among members and promote negotiation and cooperation within a framework of mutual respect. Turkey highlighted the need to further build on trust, solidarity and compromise while dealing with critical issues in the postal logistics sector.
By reaching out to all postal operators and entities and involving them in sector activities as well as works, Turkey aimed for promoting wider accessibility and connectivity to the global postal system for the benefit of the global community.
Another critical message announced from Istanbul was to maximize cooperation between all stakeholders to ensure the best possible distribution and delivery services, which is today critical more than ever.
It is not just a parcel or a letter that is carried as we all are aware that each postal item transports certain emotions between the sender and recipient. Therefore, handling one parcel with care is critical and key. It should be remembered that the satisfaction of one item could have a ripple effect to raise the quality service of existing delivery standards.
On the other hand, if it is all about providing better services to the entire world population, there are some important elements such as quality of service, supply chain, big data, the inclusion and integration of excluded populations into the postal financial system, e-commerce and digitalization, which require close work and international collaboration.
By focusing on all of these issues and improving the universal network, it is a must to reach people in remote areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Turkey highlighted this message in detail to maximize connection around the world and to ensure that no one is left behind and the most disadvantaged also have the opportunity to participate and connect.
In addressing all these issues, there will inevitably be challenges; however, as long as everyone works together in pursuit of the same objective within the framework of international solidarity, no challenge is insurmountable. Also, just as people grow through challenges, so do organizations.
With this in mind, Turkey encouraged all relevant parties to approach any challenges as opportunities for growth, improvement and better quality of service. All of this would help move the postal operators forward as dynamic and productive service providers.
Turkey's role in the international postal platform has its characteristics. It hosted a paperless congress for the first time in the history of the UPU, which is a true reflection of environmental conscience. The Istanbul Congress was also the kick-off for the Istanbul Cycle (2017-2020) and Istanbul World Postal Strategy, which together brought some profound changes to the industry with regards to effective time planning and resource management.
At that time, the majority believed that the Istanbul Cycle would be better in every aspect, compared with previous ones. Before, sessions lasting 20-25 days and inconclusive meetings meant serious losses for the members of the UPU and the UPU itself. Owing to very long decision-making processes, it was not possible to reach decisions in a timely manner.
That was corrected during the Istanbul Postal Congress, and it is still considered an extremely important improvement.
In addition to that, working groups would carry out their work separately and finalized it at council sessions. This is another efficient feature of the cycle; therefore, a result-oriented approach prevented from getting lost in long-winded discussions that end up nowhere. That way, it was aimed at minimizing costs and saving time through short but goal-oriented meetings and working groups.
Turkey also called the members and all participants to remind themselves of the values that allowed for the postal administrations founding and to act in line with those values, which were based on truthfulness, cooperation, good faith and international solidarity under all circumstances.
Keeping these values every single day before going to work would be a priceless asset for the benefit of all nations toward a common future. This would make it much easier to reach a compromise whenever a conflict or a global emergency may arise.
In light of these evaluations, it is clear that the postal logistics sector in Turkey is growing stronger with each passing day. E-commerce and logistics channels are growing daily, and this is opening up further opportunities. At this point, the PTT is a national public institution that is moving forward thanks to the firm trust received from the Turkish public.
It is constantly endeavoring to improve ways of meeting the diverse needs of their customers through physical and digital channels. It is committed to continuing restructuring itself to ensure that citizens from all walks of life get the most affordable and best possible service.
To conclude, both the 26th Istanbul Congress and the Istanbul Postal Cycle are still real tests for the PTT to revise its service approach and to update its broad service network from e-services to logistics, from banking solutions to postal services and digitalization.
Under the strategic guidance and close watch of the Turkish governments, its management mindset has to be the most important, efficient, secure and dynamic postal logistics service provider across the entire nation and beyond.
With this in mind, it must carry out in-depth studies aimed at improving distribution channels, delivery standards, logistics and fleet management, and merit-based effective human resources management. It should not be forgotten that these components are the most important ones as they are the primary channels connecting the PTT with the Turkish community.
* Ph.D. candidate at Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University
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