Cihangir İşbilir / UNIW General Coordinator @cihangirisbilir
Arriving via Turkish Airlines (THY), they reach a town which has never been visited before by any aid organization. They take necessary materials to the impoverished town. They invite the closest correspondent of Anadolu Agency (AA) to the area and the AA serves the news coverage to its subscribers in six languages of people in the town, their culture and the aid that has been done.
Upon news of the coverage, a group of doctors from Turkey head to the area and inspect the conditions. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) sends a group of professionals to the town to dig some wells for water and initiates efforts on sustainable agriculture projects and professional training programs together with officials and NGOs. The students from this area are invited to Turkey for its historical ties with Turkey. The ambassador of Turkey to this country takes the issue into consideration with an immense sensitivity and then a group of students begin their education in Turkey through the scholarships provided by the Presidency of Turks Abroad and Relative Communities. After a while the region becomes a centre of attraction and businessmen begin making investments in the town. A great interest in the Turkish language arises in the country whose relations with Turkey develop greatly and a branch of Yunus Emre Institute is opened.
The story which is told above is indeed a fictional one, however an example of this is now being experienced almost every day. Almost every day we read and watch the same kind of news stories. Some of us deeply experience the same kind of events at personal levels. The above-mentioned official institutions function in many parts of the world without borders and participate in processes of conducting foreign policy. These new actors of foreign policy carry the name, flag, power and humanistic sensitivity of Turkey to the farthest places of the world.
NEW FOREIGN POLICIES, NEW ACTORS
International relations and foreign policy was a field where the state bodies were operating and conducting interest-based relations. For the last fifty years, the spread of globalization, developments in technology and communication, regional and global multi-dimensional and multi-diverse integrations, numbers and functions of international and supranational civil and official actors and private companies all have freed international relations from being a field which was assumed to be only controlled by the governments. Today, the actors in the international system and nation states are trying to adapt themselves to this new situation by means of developing national and global governing models. In this context, Turkey has been trying to catch up on opportunities for the last ten years to make its foreign policy multi-dimensional and with multi-factors in terms of institutionalization and theory because it had missed these chances due to internal chaos after cold war. In this way, Turkey is restructuring its foreign policy through either releasing new actors one by one or opening channels for non-governmental factors to be included in decision-making mechanisms. Thus, the more the process includes new actors, the more its foreign policy acquires depth and width vertically and horizontally. It acquires a momentum and, in terms of Dr. Ibrahim Kalın, in the name of "to be an efficient subject of history" its manoeuvring area expands and it can use many instruments at the same time. The fiction told at the beginning is a picture which indicates this fact and tells about the realities of the last ten years.
TIKA whose name we have been hearing a lot recently which was established in 1992 and which is "a cooperation hand of Turkey" today is conducting projects in 100 countries with its 33 Program Coordination Offices in 33 cooperation partner countries. TIKA which was given the responsibility of conducting development coordination policies under the leadership of Dr. Serdar Çam is preforming projects in five continents in areas of education, health, water and sanitation, cultural cooperation, restoration, sheltering, housing and agriculture. TIKA is restoring the Ottoman heritage structures, coordinating projects with non-governmental organizations and organizing professional and technical training and it is increasing Turkey's former position of being the "receiving hand" to being the "giving hand" with development aids which it provides (in 2011, 1.3 billion dollars).
The Presidency of Turks Abroad and Relative Communities which was established three years ago (24.03.2010) has been performing positive activities for the sake of resolving problems suffered by citizens living abroad, strengthening relations with relative groups who have historical ties with Turkey and supporting foreign students studying in Turkey. YTB, which was established as a coordinating institution, supports all institutions functioning abroad in determining their strategy with consultation meetings and workshops. Thus, contrary to what has happened so far, it stops official institutions from being entities acting with reflexes and creates grounds for generating proactive policies via making medium and long term plans. The mission and working area of YTB in the leadership of Kemal Yurtnaç gives hope and excitement for the future. The activities which YTB performs to contribute to the integration of our citizens living abroad and in their societies without being assimilated and increasing their social efficiency and political representation power have a vital importance for the future of Turkish foreign policy. Also, conducting regulations which will make Turkey an attractive country for education, which hosts approximately forty thousand international students, and is increasing the number of international students to over the hundreds of thousands and thus establishing permanent and strong ties with relative groups will be an important task which YTB will carry out.
Another important institution which was established three years ago (30.01.2010) is the Public Diplomacy Coordination (KDK). Differing from propaganda and public relations, it is a process of activities and communication geared towards establishing a public opinion both domestically and abroad in order to realize the foreign policy goals of a country and especially in promoting those foreign policy goals and practices to foreign peoples.
The following statement by Coordinator of Public Diplomacy Cemalettin Haşim, in his third year evaluation reveals important information about the institution: "KDK entered 2013 with a quick agenda. The experience and accumulation gained in three years has been directive in terms of shaping and developing our activities. As KDK, we are aiming to share and discuss the experience gained during the ten-year process of establishing a new Turkey with different countries and regions within the framework of the agenda and priorities of Turkey. We have carried out all of our activities so far on a multi-dimensional level and with a pluralist language of politics. While leaving the third year behind, we are continuing our work on strengthening the coordination between the institutions and establishing the equilibrium of all activities regarding foreign policy and the public diplomacy of Turkey."
TURKISH AIRLINES (THY)
Also as a motto of state philosophy, the statement "a place that you do not go does not belong to you" has been reflected in Turkish Airlines today which is providing superior service around the world. THY, which have flights at the utmost level to destinations around the world, has increased its flight frequency to 219 flights in 96 countries while in 2003, they flew to just 53 three countries. THY, which was declared as the best airline corporation of Europe in 2011 and 2012, has received many more rewards. The success of THY in this most recent period provided Turkish foreign policy with strength and prestige to the utmost level. THY, under the leadership of Hamdi Topçu, has achieved a growth parallel to developments such as new diplomatic missions, developing relations and signed visa exemption contracts, which aims to increase the number of aircrafts in its fleet from 202 today to 375 in 2020 and join the ranks of the first one hundred brands of the world. With its strength and momentum of development it serves both the real and envisioned goals of Turkish foreign policy.
Anadolu Agency which has been Turkey's state-owned news corporation for 93-year's, has also seen quick development recently. Under the leadership of Kemal Öztürk, AA has become a global agency in its one hundredth year through its special news reports that it gathers from the hot spots of the world (Rohingya, Syria, Mali, Libya), newly established regional offices (Cairo, Beirut, Bosnia-Herzegovina) and with its multi-language coverage (the most recently added being Arabic and Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian). AA, along with taking huge steps in terms of structuring and human resources, draws attention with its newly established reporting discourse in stories that it covers in places that the new Turkish foreign policy now focuses on as well as in stories from Turkey. Today, rather than how the events themselves are developed, how they are perceived acquires importance, therefore the strengthening of AA and its obtaining a discourse appropriate to the vision of Turkish foreign policy and the maturity of the Anatolian consciousness is one of the most enjoying developments of recent years. As State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç points out, it is clear that AA is in the most powerful period of its history and will enter its 100th year by only strengthening more.
Anadolu Agency has determined a vision of being among top most effective five agencies, such as Reuters, AFP and AP and a world brand in 2020 which will mark the news agency's 100th year.
Kemal Öztürk, CEO and General Manager of AA, says that it is unacceptable that Turkey which is 17th fastest growing economy of the world and 6th of Europe does not have an agency and media brand among any top list of the world. The agency, which has gone from providing coverage in just one language to five languages within just a period of a year-and-a-half, also increased reporting production by 40 percent, photo production by 50 percent, and image production by 90 percent, thereby allowing its entry already among the top ten lists of the world.
TRT At-Turkiya, which was established three years ago (4th April 2010) is a TV channel which broadcasts to 350 million Arabic speaking countries for 24 hours a day in the Arabic language. It is a fact that there are many steps that need to be taken for the success and increased ratings of TRT At Turkiya, which was established with an important mission parallel to the recent period Turkish foreign policy for the Arab world, which was previously neglected and even considered an enemy during the republic period. TRT Arabic, which is one of the most important initiatives by Turkey to the Arab world, is clearly at the beginning of its path when it is compared to Russian Al Yawm and BBC Arabic. The two falws that it has and that everyone points out, is the quality of content and a standard of Arabic which everybody can understand. When these defects are obliterated, along with the rising prestige of Turkey among Arabs, it is possible that TRT At Turkiya's ratings may rise.
YUNUS EMRE FOUNDATION
The Yunus Emre Institute is a sub-organization of the Yunus Emre Foundation, which was established in 2007 to conduct educational activities and scientific research. Another main purpose of the institute is to open Yunus Emre Cultural Centres abroad, which will serve the learning of Turkish and promotion of Turkish language, culture and art. Thus, the aim is for both Turkish citizens to learn their language well and to establish a language and culture bridge in the countries that these centres are founded. It is obvious that the institute under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Hayati Develi will serve the promotion of the Turkish language and the culture around the world. Parallel to the recent proactive Turkish foreign policy, increasing the number of these centres and performing effective cultural activities will acquire depth and richness to Turkey's foreign policy.
Though Turkey has a past whose waqf tradition is powerful because of policies during the republican era "the waqf spirit" has been inflicted with wounds which are difficult to heal. In spite of that, along with the political and economic stability acquired in recent years, a consciousness and intellectual diversity amongst society regarding the geographies that we have historical relations with have surfaced along with developing civil organizations. The humanitarian aid sensitivity seen in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Palestine, Aceh, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq, Somalia and lastly the crisis in Syria increases day by day. Our humanitarian aid institutions take aid to more than one hundred countries in the world and develop projects there, not only to those which have crisis. Non-governmental organizations which were established based on medical aid, give clinical services in many parts of the world. Businessmen associations especially establish intimate relations with the Islamic world and sign investment contracts in each countries. These associations and foundations sometimes support Turkish foreign policy and sometimes direct it and open grounds for it via projects and relations they establish. NGOs which can reach the places that official institutions mostly cannot, and can touch the unreachable segments of societies and whose manoeuvring area is more expansive, when compared to the state can function as frontier forces of foreign policy. The Human Rights, Freedom and Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) conducted humanitarian diplomacy in the last Syrian crisis, the Union of NGOs of Islamic World (UNIW) launched one local and another global aid campaign for Syria, and MUSIAD (The Association of Independent Industrialists and Businessmen) opens ground for foreign policy with its economic cooperation network around the world, all of which are only a few examples of contribution of NGOs to Turkish foreign policy.
Think-tanks, such as SETA, SDE, USAK, ORSAM, TASAM, whose numbers have been increasing of late Turkish foreign policy with their studies, reports and meetings and in producing new material.
As non-governmental organizations can contribute to foreign policy with their activities outside of Turkey, we see that they can also influence foreign policy substantially with their projects, relations and working areas inside of Turkey.
In that term, the most original and qualified work is done by NGOs which are established to serve international students. Under the leadership of the Bab-ı Alem International Student Association, which was established in 2004, there are 16 associations established for this reason in Turkey. These associations conduct several activities both separately in places which they are located in Turkey and also under the umbrella organization of the Federation of International Student Associations (UDEF) to 40 thousand international "guest" students. In all of these activities, the only purpose is to make these students feel that they are not 'foreign' but 'guests', in Turkish "misafir", which stresses a meaning to show deepest hospitality. The success of these organizations can be seen through development graphs which recorded over the past eight years. For example, the International Student Reunion, organized this year, which will be the sixth, provides a huge opportunity for Turkey to get to know these students more closely.
It is expected that 100 thousand students will obtain education in Turkey in 2023 and it is already clear how important it is that NGOs should focus on this area for the promotion of Turkey and its future vision.
In conclusion, Turkey has been in a new reinvigorating phase for the past ten years. The political and economic stability and development inside is demanded to be crowned with social peace. Parallel-wise, Turkey has been activating new discourse and a vision of foreign policy which are appropriate to its historical and strategic depth. In fact, Turkey is being reborn from its ashes. It realizes that the more it gets rid of the shackles on its feet, it beings to see its depth/width of influence and capacity. In this process, Turkey needs new and different kinds of actors and seeks ways of cooperation with these new actors in foreign policy. It sees the new actors of foreign policy as sometimes being behind it, sometimes besides it and sometimes like spearheads of its soft power just ahead of it. An efficient and powerful Turkey is trying to be established through the institutions enlisted above which are now very young. It is necessary to support these new actors of foreign policy, which participate in this exciting and long term marathon while also providing newer ones to join in.