Kadir Ayhan, Diana Ingenhoff, and I wrote a short blog post on USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s blog, discussing what we have learned in terms of data analysis while we managed to capture South Korean country image.
You can read the blog post here.
As my beloved home country, Turkey, has just voted “yes” on proposed constitutional changes that made current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan pretty much president until 2029* and gave him extensive powers that will (I guess) enable him to enact all the policies he did not have the resources to enact – despite being in politics since 1983, an elected official from 1994 to 1998, and controlling the executive branch since 2002, controlling the executive branch with little to no opposition from the legislative branch since 2007, with little to no opposition from the judiciary branch since 2010.
But anyway, I digress. Where was I? Yes, Turkish brand. So, what will happen to the Turkish brand? Well, Turkish brand will both benefit from the results and be damaged, almost, beyond repair.
By now, most of us have heard about the tension between Turkey and the Netherlands (and for those who have not heard about it, CNN has a nice summary). As both countries are heading into elections, they once again showed us that the combination of “irrational voters” and “universal suffrage” might lead to really crazy rhetoric. I argue that this focus on “winning” the elections also influences how Turkey and the Netherlands portray the events in the international arena. And when everybody tries to win the game of soft power, everybody loses. Here is why and how:
When I accepted to serve as Academic Observer for The Place Brand Observer, I created a list of topics for all my posts for the upcoming six months. For my fifth post, I was planning to write about partnerships between scholars/academic institutions and branding agencies. However, given the fact that I am living in Istanbul during really “interesting” times, I decided to discuss what academia has to offer to practitioners who want to brand cities, regions or countries in such turbulent times.
You can read the full post on the Place Brand Observer.
Recently, I was invited to be a panelist at a public diplomacy panel at Galatasaray University. Together with Phil Seib of USC, Asli Sancar and Dilruba Catalbas Urper of Galatarasay University, we discussed the state of Turkish public diplomacy. My talk focused on the gap between the study and practice of public diplomacy in the country. Below you can find a summary of my talk.
Two news articles have been occupying my social media feeds: Ferguson jury decision and Erdogan’s comments on gender equality. A grand jury decided not to indict the police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed African American teenager, causing nation-wide protests. Erdogan decided to share his views on gender equality, once again, with the public in a Women and Justice summit. He said that “you cannot bring women and men into equal positions; that is against nature because their nature is different“. Both events got a large scale media coverage, causing domestic and international publics to question the ‘brand’ identities of the countries.
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:
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.
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.
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.