Turkish Diplomats Distressed Abroad Focus On Public Diplomacy At Home

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Turkish diplomats, distressed by the deadlock on the divided island of Cyprus, up-and-downs in the EU accession process and diplomatic rows stemming from the Armenian genocide resolutions, are stepping up public diplomacy efforts at home.

“In order to determine the effects [of foreign policy related] developments, a new project has been launched aimed at widening the public affairs works across the country,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry noted in a written-statement released late Wednesday. “It is an important part of our public diplomacy strategy.”

Headed by Ambassador Engin Soysal, three diplomats are visiting the Black Sea province of Trabzon on March 18-19. Soysal will address a panel in the Black Sea Technical University and hold talks with local authorities, businessmen and non-governmental organizations in an effort to explain the existing foreign policy strategies.

It will be the first one, but not the last. Ankara has said that it would be difficult to go further without public support. Similar programs will take place in 20 other provinces including Konya, Adana, Denizli, Afyon and Erzurum.

Diplomats involved with the Armenia-Turkey process will try and convince nationalists in those regions that the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey is a positive step, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The hope is that once the government gains backing at home, it will be easier to ratify the protocols in Parliament and step-up the reforms towards the EU bid, according to the Foreign Minister.

Increasing interaction between global, regional and local developments has a direct effect on foreign policies, the statement outlined. “In this respect, it is needed to adopt new and participatory attitude as well as to inform the public about the politics at stage,” it added.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu kicked-off his public diplomacy in January when he led a delegation to the southeastern province of Mardin. The foreign ministry has also set-up its profile on both facebook and twitter.

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