This is the Turkish model, not the end of it

There is a Twitter ban in Turkey. A democratic country blocked access to the microblogging site, 10 days before the most important election of the decade! This move brings the question is whether the ban signals the end of the Turkish model – as a democratic country with a predominantly Muslim population – for the region or not. I say, this ban clearly shows what the Turkish model is. We think about Turkey as a country that combines the Western values with a different religious belief. I argue the model was always about using Western institutions to justify the influence of religion on society and politics. Here is how:

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“Shoot that blue bird”

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“Facing the Climate” Exhibition in Washington, DC

Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to attend the “Grand Opening of 2014 Theme Program: Going Glocal” at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC (also known as the House of Sweden). The event was particularly important for me as Sweden also unveiled Facing the Climate - a cartoon exhibit that includes the works of Swedish and international artists on climate issues. Also, Facing the Climate is one of the projects I study in my dissertation. It was a “geeky” and a “happy” moment when I finally saw the project that I have been interviewing, reading, and writing about for the past two year in person.

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Where is the Undersecretary?

Update: With Stengel in the office, I updated the graph and the data. I also added three dates for Richard Stengel’s tenure in the office based on the shortest, average, and longest tenures Undersecretaries before him had. Here, I am not trying to forecast when he is going to leave his post. Rather, I plan to use these dates to make arguments about vacancies and high rate of turnover in R.

Let me share a short post about the vacancy data about the Undersecretary for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy position. Everybody who works in or studies public diplomacy knows that the position has seen high rates of turn over and has been vacant quite often. I was playing around with the vacancy data and created this timeline visual.

Here is the data I used as a table.

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Turkey: Home of Absurd Promotion Posters

Turkey unveiled its new promotion posters for 2014, with the theme “Home of [insert (sometimes proper) noun here]“. When I first saw some of the posters, I really was not sure whether this was an official campaign or a spoof. As various news outlets reported the event as such, I assume it is an official campaign – though the content of the posters make it very difficult to believe that.

Nope, that is not Virgin Mary in the picture.

Nope, that is not Virgin Mary in the picture. Just a random lady.

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When Life Gives You Lemons: Branding without Olympics

Last Saturday, IOC announced that Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics. There were two more candidate cities: Madrid and Istanbul. None of the candidate cities got the majority of the votes in the first round. The second round of voting was between Istanbul and Tokyo, after Madrid was eliminated from the race following a run-off vote against Istanbul.  2020 was Istanbul’s fifth bid to host the Olympics. Being a runner-up candidate is thus far the best result Turkey got.

Now, we all know the famous saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. But there is no saying about how to brand your place when IOC doesn’t give you the Olympics. It is true that hosting mega events can be seen as important “place branding” moments, yet one should not forget that there are various studies (such as this one) showing that such events are not necessarily useful to improve a nation’s/country’s reputation.

So, When IOC doesn’t give you the Olympics

 

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Branding at the time of Crisis Vol.2: Turkey and “Ergenekon”

*For those who don’t know about the Ergenekon case, here is the Wikipedia article, a really well-written report on the issue, and  a Q&A from Financial Times.

As of today, a local court came up with the verdict at the Ergenekon case. Several individuals, including a former Chief of Staff, various high ranking military officers, prominent intellectuals, and politicians were sentenced, some were sentenced to life in prison. Practically just like any other given aspect of Turkish life in the last decade or so, Ergenekon was a highly politicized issue and divided the population into “pro” and “against” camps.

The case has received quite a high level of international media attention, and therefore is likely to influence Turkey’s perception by the foreign audiences. I argue it would be naïve to expect a positive influence without any communicative intervention from Turkey. Besides, such an intervention is definitely not going to be easy.

This is what an open court looks like in Turkey – as portrayed by the international media (Image from Spiegel)

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Branding at the time of Crisis: Turkey and Gezi Park Protests

*For those who don’t know about Gezi Park protests, here is the Wikipedia article , here is a short infograph explaining the first 8 days, and here is a segment from the Colbert Report.

As Ahmet Davutoglu mentioned, the Gezi Park protests have an impact on Turkish reputation in the international arena (link in Turkish). But as the debunked urban legend goes, the Chinese word for crisis includes two characters: one for danger, another for opportunity. This post argues that the Turkish state has failed to use the Gezi Park protests to boost its image. Yet, it is not too late. Turkey can still use these protests as a way to increase its reputation as a strong modern capable state.

A protestor reading to the police officers at Gezi Park

A protester reading to the police officers at Gezi Park / Early days of the protest

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