Qatar & sport: football as a diplomatic tool

Small Gulf country on the scale of its neighbour Saudi Arabia, Qatar is beginning to play a major role in international relations. Its active diplomacy makes its role on the international scene increasingly contested. However, it is by a very special means that the country has managed to impose itself: through its practice of soft power where sport predominates (Brannagan and Guilianotti, 2014).

The round ball occupies a special place in the Qatari project. Indeed, football, because of the global enthusiasm it arouses and by its accessibility, is a sport with truly international dimensions, with financial, cultural and media characteristics extremely interesting or the sports diplomacy of Qatar.


The organisation of the World Cup 2022 on the soil of Qatar will make it possible to offer the country a very high visibility. With football meetings followed by several million people on the planet, teams and stars with a very high media impact, this competition will make Qatar the most followed country in the world for a month (Reiche, 2014). However, some questioned the capacity of the State to host; on playing during the summer under lead temperatures (Qatar ensured that all stadiums would be air-conditioned); on the fate of the dozens of ultra-modern stadiums built (the country announced that the stadiums would later be relocated and graciously offered to several cities in Africa) (Sannie, 2010).

If the big event is scheduled for 2022, it has been since the beginning of the century that Qatar has positioned itself on football. But it is in recent years that Qatar occupied the first place of influential countries in the world of football, especially since the redemption of the club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). The country owns 100% of the football club. The purchase of the club of the city of Paris was thought like a way to position itself in the European football through the window on the world that represents the French capital. The desire is now to place the PSG among the elite of European football (Gibson, 2014). The attraction for the city of Paris allows Qatar to communicate on a global scale: by combining symbols such as the Eiffel Tower (present on the logo club) and world stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic or David Beckham, Qatar has made a mark and make his name shine in France, Europe and the world.


The country’s wealth of gas allows it to play a leading role in a sport where the importance of money and political-economic power is paramount. The current president of the PSG, Nasser al-Khelaifi, a former top tennis player, is the General Manager of Al Jazeera Sport and also the CEO of beIN Sport, the French branch of Al Jazeera (Gibson, 2014).

The choice of “sports power” for Qatar is therefore motivated by the lack of traditional means of hard power. This project is in line with the country’s foreign policy, characterised by its balance and its desire for modernization. Indeed, the apparent neutrality of sport underlines the “non-aligned” nature of the country, which enables it to position itself as a specialist in international mediation and crisis resolution. Thus, it is in Qatar that we owe the resolution of the Lebanese political crisis with the Doha agreements in May 2008, or the end of the Yemeni rebellion in July 2008 (Barakat, 2014:14).

The emirate has started the construction of a soft power internationally to highlight its modernity, richness and innovation, in view of its program Qatar National Vision 2013. The prestige dimension of sports diplomacy (popularity, media coverage, universality and political neutrality) aims to give Qatar the means to achieve its ambitions.


Barakat, S. (2014), Qatari Mediation: Between Ambition and Achievement, Washington DC: Brookings Institution

Bosnjak, S. (2016). “Football Diplomacy: How Qatar won the 2022 World Cup”, Australian Institute of International Affairs, available at:

Brannagan, P.M and Guilianotti, R. (2014), “Soft power and soft disempowerment: Qatar, global sport and football’s 2022 World Culp finals”, Leisure Studies, Vol 34, n°6, p703-719

Gibson, O. (2014), “Why PSG and the World Cup will not be enough for football hungry Qatar”, The Guardian, 3rd April 2014, available at:

Kessous, M. (2011), “Sports as Diplomacy: How Small Gulf Countries Use Big Sports to Gain Global Influence”, 27th June 2011, Time Magazine, available at:,8599,2080062,00.html

Reiche, D. (2014), “Investing in sporting success as a domestic and foreign policy tool: the case of Qatar”, International Journal of Sports Policy and Politics, Vol 7, n°4, p489-504

Sannie, I. (2010), “Africa to benefit from Qatar 2022 World Cup hosting”, BBC Sport, 22nd May 2010, available at:


Sweden nation branding

In a globalised world, competition between national “brands” has opened a new battlefield in the digital space. To be able to exist in the face of the great powers, Sweden took the challenge of an original digital diplomacy.

In 2016, Sweden ranks first among the countries of the world on Simon Anholt’s “Good Country Index”, the guru of international communication and national branding. In a period of economic globalisation in which nations themselves tend to be increasingly seen as brands in a market, competition between nation-brands has opened up a new diplomatic battlefield in the digital space.


Olle Wastberg, Director-General of the Swedish Institute, a public institution responsible for promoting Sweden and a key Swedish diplomatic position, presented the challenge of governments to deal with this situation: “Every “nation brand’ is a simplification. But even though it may be paradoxical in a globalised world, most countries have found that they must stress their individuality to compete. Reputation is the new currency now that countries are beginning to understand that soft power can be more forceful that the hard power that has so often failed” (Wastberg, 2010). Presence and visibility on the Internet have become a sine qua non for success in this competition.

In the 2000s, Sweden’s promotion abroad was integrated into the country’s export policy: through the promotion of Sweden’s brand, symbols and images, attempts were made to strengthen the position of Swedish products on the world market. Under the leadership of Olle Wastberg, the Swedish Institution put the concepts of Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding at the centre of its strategy. Wastberg has declared his intention to make the Swedish Institute a genuine communication tool, capable of acting on the Internet, which has become the main form of international communication.
2007 marks the first breakthrough in Swedish digital diplomacy. After the 2006 parliamentary elections, former Prime Minister Carl Bildt became Foreign Minister. He was one of the international pioneers of using a personal account on Twitter. In May 2007, he inaugurated the Swedish embassy on Second Life, a virtual form (Bengtsson, 2011).

In January 2013, Carl Bildt instructed all Swedish embassies to open accounts on Facebook and Twitter before the end of the month. Since then, the Internet and its communication channels have taken on a growing role in Swedish diplomacy, both as a tool for communication and as a vehicle for Swedish progressive politics in this field. Thus Bildt’s ministry organised a meeting in Stockholm in January 2014, the Stockholm Initiative for Digital Diplomacy, which brought together international actors for informal discussions on the possibility offered by contemporary digital diplomacy (Sandre, 2014).

One of the most notable projects in Swedish digital diplomacy was Curators of Sweden on Twitter, designed by the Swedish Institute with the National Tourist Board. Following a rotation principle, it was not a single individual, but several who were responsible for Twitter’s @Sweden feed. Each week, a new Swede – nominated by a third party and selected by the project managers – became the feed administrator. The project is clearly in line with the strategy of the Swedish brand: it is a staging of its key-values.

These activities were part of a wider cooperation framework with Swedish companies active on a global scale, where they sought to help Swedish companies to make their Swedish character more pronounced so that they could benefit from Sweden’s good reputation in the world, the idea was to strengthen both the image of Sweden companies and the image of the country itself.

A good example of such use of the national image in international advertising is the publicity for Volvo, where the carmaker used the one who is now the most famous Swede in the world: the footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic. In these advertisements, which are small cinematographic pieces, Zlatan, like Volvo, represent the union of ancient Sweden, its boreal nature and harsh conditions, with Sweden today: countries of immigration, land of welcome and of advances technology, which has conquered the world by its talent and excellence, while remaining authentic.



Bengtsson, S. (2011), “Virtual Nationbranding: the Swedish Embassy in Second Life”, Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, Vol 4, n°1

Sandre, A. (2014), “Diplomacy 3.0 Starts in Stockholm”, Huffington Post, accessible at:

Siret, M. (2016), “Sweden officially the ‘goodest’ country in the world, study says”, 2nd June 2016, The Independent, accessible at:

Wastberg, O. (2010), “The Symbiosis of Sweden & IKEA”, Public Diplomacy Magazine, accessible at:

Gastrodiplomacy or when political influence passes through the conquest of the stomach

“While gastrodiplomacy is a relatively new field in the realm of public diplomacy, the idea itself can be traced back to the ancient Romans, who often made peace with their enemies over a good meal” (Poon, 2014).


Culinary diplomacy refers to the use of meals in a context of intergovernmental relations to convey a non-verbal message. This definition is not limited to good dishes and fine wines served to relax the atmosphere and facilitate negotiations. Meals can also to better “ingest” words or “digest” an agreement. Political science historians and researchers evoke many situations where the choice of ingredients, place or arrangement of tables is deliberately made to convey a message. At the opposite, gastrodiplomacy is a form of public relations that has emerged more recently. Some governments decide to promote their nation as a brand. They develop strategies, with institutions and budgets, in order to export their culinary heritage. The aim is to promote a country through its cuisine, but also indirectly, to encourage investment, promote trade and tourism.

Can a macaroon be more powerful than a diplomatic telegram? Maybe, if we refer to the theory of gastrodiplomacy. Formulated for the first time in 2002 in an article by The Economist, this term refers to a state’s strategy of using its culinary traditions as a vector of international power (The Economist, 2002). Food thus becomes a tourist argument, attracting foreigners; a factor of economic dynamics, stimulating local industry, and a tool of soft power, valorising the symbolic aura of the country. Gastrodiplomacy is, therefore, to use its country as a brand, by focusing on the cultural identity of a state.

In the United States, until the 1960s, State dinners were prepared by the American army’s kitchens. It is Jackie Kennedy who, hiring a French chef, decided to create in 1961 the position of White House Chief Executive, to reinforce the radiance of the White House. Subsequently, succeeded French chefs, Swiss… until 1994 when Hillary Clinton, the First Lady, separated from the French chief of the White House, to assign the post to an American. In 2012, while she was at the State Department, she launched a Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, aimed at increasing the role of cuisine in American diplomacy (Albright, 2015).


Gastrodiplomacy refers to the time when states promote their cuisine abroad. Thailand, for instance, has launched major training plans for cooks, from 5000 restaurants to more than 15000 in the world. This is the Kitchen of the World program. Since 2002, there has been a conscious and concerted effort in gastrodiplomacy. The country is becoming a brand that we are trying to promote using soft power strategies of public diplomacy, like for instance the truck cruising large American cities.

Besides these initiatives aimed at the broad public, we can see the development of a real struggle among international elites since in 2010, France registered its cooking at the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, thus engaging a battle of many states to record their traditional dishes or emblematic cuisines also. Nevertheless, there are still some faults, since this fervour sometimes turns gastronationalism, using cuisine to fuel political and religious conflicts. For instance, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine are fighting for the origins of hummus (Frum, 2015).

Food can ease tensions and even help to find an agreement. For instance, Gilles Bragnard founded the “Clubs of Chef of Heads State” with the aim of making the cooker’s kitchen apron a symbol of peace by grouping, for instance, Israel and Palestine around the same table.

But paradoxically, it can also create disputes. It can become the symbol of a diplomatic crisis. This is what happens in 2003 in the United States after President Jacques Chirac refused to join the coalition led by Washington in Iraq. The cafeterias of the House of Representatives of the United States decided to change the name of French fries to “freedom fries”, in support of a popular mobilisation against France (Silver, 2011).

There are no quantitative criteria to measure the effectiveness of food in diplomacy. In managerial societies that like to measure everything using performance indicators, counting the number of meals organised by an embassy to measure its influence is a temptation of all diplomatic administrations. But what is true of meals is of diplomatic practice in general: to create empathy by the relational belongs to a register whose evaluation will always remain purely qualitative.


Albright, M. (2015), “Culinary Diplomacy is on America’s Menu”, National Geographic, 25th April 2015, accessible at:

Chapple-Sokol, S. (2014), “War and Peas: Culinary Conflict Resolution as Citizen Diplomacy”, Public Diplomacy Magazine

Frum, D. (2015), “The Israeli-Arab Hummus Wars”, Huffington Post, 6th December 2015, accessible at:

Silver, A. (2011), “French Fries to ‘Freedom’ Fries”, 28th March 2011, Time Magazine, accessible at:,28804,2061530_2061531_2061545,00.html

Poon, L. (2014), “Gastrodiplomacy: Cooking Up a Tasty Lesson on War and Peace”, accessible at:

How Twitter revolutions diplomatic uses


140 signs are now enough to threaten, congratulate or create tensions between countries. A new form of diplomacy of the 21st century is emerging to dialogue with the giants of the Web. With the billions of smartphones in circulation, Heads of States have no choice: they are, in the first sense, “in the hands of peoples” and as such also subject to the influence of social networks (Twitter, Facebook…) and their digital immediacy.

At a time when Donald Trump is using unbridled Twitter and where the Pakistani Minister of Defense is using this same network to threaten Israel with a nuclear response (tweet since removed) after reading the article of a caricatural site, a new form of diplomacy is emerging (AWD, 2016).

We are now talking of “digital diplomacy” as a new vision of the management of international affairs which challenges the monopoly of diplomats, almost unique representatives in charge of the management of international political relations until recently. In the digital age, foreign policy emerges from the shadows and uses these new channels so far from the quiet lounges of embassies and international organisations.

It is impossible to describe this notion of digital diplomacy without citing two Twitter accounts that regularly make headlines: @realDonaldTrump and @Potus. Sometimes as “Donald Trump”, sometimes as President of the United States, Donald Trump continues to bypass the classic media and diplomatic channels by making Twitter his main media of influence. He posts all kinds of messages: announcements: “I will be making the announcement of my Vice President pick on Friday at 11am in Manhattan” (Tweet 13th July 2016); scathing denials: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me” (Tweet 11th January 2017); or even diplomatic messages such as this tweet to Vladimir Putin sent a few hours after Obama’s decision to expel Russian diplomats from the United States while his Russian counterpart refused to yield to the same movement mood: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” (Tweet 30th December 2016).

No one can deny today that Trump’s winning wager is largely due to the fact that he broke the codes of political communication by freeing himself from the classical media in favour of this language of 140 signs. It remains to be seen whether this new diplomatic grammar, characterized by its conciseness, spontaneity and provocation, will become a new norm or an exception, as China wished to remind the new US President that “foreign policy isn’t child’s play, (…), Twitter shouldn’t become an instrument of foreign policy” (Levitz, 2017) and stressed the fact that Madeleine Albright, a former Secretary of State, had herself recalled that Twitter should not be a tool for foreign policy (Hunt, 2017).

In diplomacy, the least that can be said is that this “hashtag diplomacy” is the opposite of the habits of international relations characterised by their nuances, secrets and formalism. Twitter is the antithesis of diplomatic usage: humour is rare in diplomacy (especially in writing) and is tend to be counterproductive. The provocation is considered an unfriendly, even directly hostile act. The unpredictability is the last think policy-makers want in foreign policy.

However, because of the digital weight in our societies and the centrality of the “web giants”, states are just beginning to organise and establish new forms of diplomatic dialogue, especially with Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, as they have been doing for centuries with nations. To cope with these digital behemoths, which for some of them have cash levels higher than the GDP of industrialised countries, Denmark has just taken the plunge by inventing the diplomacy of the 21st century by appointing a “digital ambassador” (Gramer, 2017).

While it is still difficult to say what form this “diplomatic dialogue” will take between a country and these technologic multinationals, there is no shortage of subjects: the impact of artificial intelligence, protection of personal data, prevention against misinformation and fake news.


AWD News. (2016), “Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan sends grounds troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack”, 20th December 2016, available at:,-we-will-destroy-them-with-a-nuclear-attack

Gramer, R. (2017), “Denmark Creates the World’s First Ever Digital Ambassador”, 27th January 2017, Foreign Policy, available at:

Hunt, K. (2017), “China tells Donald Trump to lay off Twitter”, CNN, 5th January 2017, available at:

Levitz, E. (2017), “China would like Trump to stop conducting Diplomacy over Twitter”, New York Magazine, 4th January 2017, available at:

Public Diplomacy- a reality or myth?

As a final year Diplomacy and IR student I have been exposed to how public diplomacy is conducted from the confinements of a nation state territory through visits to various Embassies and use of other mediums such as social media, newspapers, television and radio. The question that sprung to my mind was, what exactly is public diplomacy? How does it work? What is the purpose of public diplomacy? Does it have an impact in how the targeted public thinks or acts? Is there any difference between this form of activity and that one, churned out by governments or organisations’ information departments and termed by others as propaganda?

It appears there is not an agreeable definition of what public diplomacy actually is among academics of repute, with many agreeing more on how it is conducted and to an extent its objectives than the definition of what it actually is. The Centre on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California defines public diplomacy as, ” the public, interactive dimension of diplomacy which is not only global in nature, but also involves a multitude of actors and networks. It is a key mechanism through which nations foster mutual trust and productive relationships and has become crucial to building a secure global environment”, ( What it means is that they are many activities that a done on a daily basis such as eating which can be an act of public diplomacy depending on the context. Thus we end up with terms such as culinary or gastro-diplomacy.Image result for images of culinary diplomacy

However some academics such as Berridge (2015:198) takes the view that public diplomacy is a form of propaganda, aimed at manipulating public attitudes through the use of all forms of media, with more recently social media, for political ends. He argues that the target maybe foreign or domestic public, and for benefits which maybe long or short term, but crucially, the information churned out maybe honest in some instances but could also be governments or organisations presenting information which may be contrary to the truth to give a certain perception.

The idea of public diplomacy being propaganda is supported by Pigman (2010:122-123) who cites Jacques Ellul who has defined propaganda as, ‘ a communication practised by an organised group with the intention of triggering an active or passive participation of masses of people, who get psyched up through psychological manipulation and are incorporated into the organisation’s beliefs. The matter of ‘target’ informs how Rana (2011:77-79) provides his definition of public diplomacy as a measure of activities taken by various non state actors as well as governments to reach out to members of the public on a variety of issues, with the reverse also being true. The reverse being when the public get galvanised to raise discontent against governments or multinational companies. This is usually true when powerful nations such as western countries seek to influence a change of government or democratisation of a sovereign state. They may influence or ‘speak’ to the other nation’s citizens through films, university scholarships, schools exchange programmes and development aid programmes run by their countries such as USAID. These are subtle and less contentious ways of seeking to influence public perceptions of other states’ citizen without full diplomatic or political confrontation, which Joseph Nye describes as ‘soft power’. Jan Melissen concurs with Nye, arguing that public diplomacy is beyond manipulation of foreign publics, rather he says it in increasingly becoming a standard but key component of diplomatic practice and more than a form of diplomatic propaganda, Melissen (2005:11). With this thinking of his, it is unsurprising that he is in unison with Paul Sharp and Hans Tuch’s definitions of public diplomacy who both put advancement of values, ideas, ideals and interests as well as national goals and policies at the centre of governments’ involvement or engagement in public diplomacy activities, 2005:11-12.

Is public diplomacy always a success? The blunt answer is, No! Rana (2011:84) cites the United States’ failure with its public diplomacy post September 11, 2011, when it failed to change the hearts and minds of targeted Arab and Islamic states, though it invested heavily in TV and Radio programs aimed to win over audiences to the US viewpoint. The failure was attributed to the US attitude of wanting to be heard but not willing to listen as well as change its policies on certain matters. Thus Cowan and Arsenault, 2008 argue that public diplomacy is only effective when conducted in a collaborative way  than in a monologue or even dialogue manner. As Cowan and Arsenault (2008:10) have observed, politicians and public figures often fail to gauge and misunderstand the mood of a diversified international audience,presenting potential hazards to relationships. As an example, during the height of the Danish cartoon controversy in 2006, an Italian Cabinet Minister made a public diplomacy faux pas by appearing on television wearing a T’shirt printed with cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Whilst he may have intended to show solidarity with Denmark and project the freedom of expression view of the western world, his public diplomacy act was received differently in the Islamic world, with the Italian embassy being burnt in Libya. It means great care like in traditional diplomatic endeavours has to be taken when conducting public diplomacy.

Public diplomacy, although on its own is rarely decisive as in the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ campaigns, with little influence on states foreign policy, has however become an accessory device whose value has skyrocketed due to the digitalisation of diplomacy. Thus public diplomacy ceases to be a myth but a reality and as Leguey-Feilleux (2009:154) explains, it has become an extension of diplomatic service as governments expects diplomats to make use of social media to access the public, courting opinions.


Berridge. G. R (2015) Diplomacy: Theory and Practice, 5th edition, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Cowan, G and Arsenault, A. (2008), Theorising Public Diplomacy; Public Diplomacy in a Changing World; The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications

Leguey-Feilleux. J. (2009) The Dynamics of Diplomacy, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers

Melissen, J. (2005) The New Public Diplomacy; Soft Power in International Relations, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Pigman. G. A. (2010) Contemporary Diplomacy, Cambridge: Polity Press

Rana. K. S. (2011) 21st Century Diplomacy: A Practitioner’s Guide, London: The Continuum International Publishing Group.


AKP Diaspora Diplomacy jeopardises Turkish Public Diplomacy

AKP Diaspora Diplomacy jeopardises Turkish Public Diplomacy

The Turkish diaspora in Europe, once again, came into spotlight in the run up to the Turkish constitutional referendum. This blog attempts to analyse Turkish diaspora engagement through elections and its impact on their PD. While the constitutional changes that concentrate power on the presidency themselves, the announced introduction of the death penalty and other worrying developments (125.000 sacked civil servants , among them 2700 judges and over 40.000 arrests as well as a world-wide record of arrested journalists (Beise, 2016)) in Turkey have significantly influenced public perception abroad, this blog deals specifically with the impact of the country’s diaspora engagement on its broader PD strategy.

With 51 % voting in favour of the constitutional reform, votes from the European diaspora may have tipped the balanced. There are more than 4 million Euro-Turks living in the EU of which approximately 2,6 were eligible to vote (400.000 in Germany  alone, making it the 4th biggest Turkish voting district)(Aydin, 2014). Turkey, in contrast to most other European states allows and encourages dual-citizenship. Since the 2013 presidential elections voting from abroad is allowed, which has further politicised the Turkish diaspora, fuelling rifts between Turks of different backgrounds as well as with the host society.

38137535_7Picture: (Chase, 2017)

Turkey is an influential and multifaceted international actor. Since the AKP came into powers it has officially adapted a ‘zero problem policy’. Due to its Ottoman history and its geopolitical location the country plays a unique role as a hub between Europe and the Middle East. Even though an accession to the EU is unlikely, Turkey continuous to be a member of NATO, a signatory of the European Convention of Human Rights and a close ally of Europe. However, as Kalin (2011), first press secretary of Erdogan stresses negative perceptions of the country drawing from the Armenian Genocide, the Kurdish civil war or the Cyprus conflict pose a risk to the success of its foreign policy which must be supported by a comprehensive public diplomacy strategy. Despite, the rhetoric of ‘zero problems’, democracy and human rights in the official PD it often fails to meet its slogans and with the focus diaspora the country’s PD is further undermined. Overall its PD strategy is rather hollow as it does not meet what it proclaims (Cevik S., 2015; Huijgh E & Warlick, 2016). However, it is concrete in advertising tourism as well as  maintaining an extensive and multi-actor diaspora diplomacy that according to former foreign minister Davutolgu targets at “not only Turks, but everybody who has migrated from these lands are our Diaspora” (Öktem, 2014).

The Turkish diaspora is not only interesting due to its size, but also because of its diversity. Many Euro-Turks have come to Europe as ‘guestworkers’ and were thought to work in Germany, send remittances and return to Turkey. However, many have remained in Europe while retaining strong connections to Turkey. After the coup d’etat and due to the ongoing Kurdish civil war there were also many seeking asylum in Europe, who have a very different relationships with their ‘home state’. Some retain close connections with Turkey even in the second or third generation, others do not. Cases like the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by European states, the capture of PKK leader Öcalan or the the recent attempted coup d’etat have sparked demonstrations by both supporters and critical Turkish diaspora organisations.

Engagement with Turks abroad predate the official diaspora diplomacy and has always played an integral part of the country’s public diplomacy. Since 1980 the Presidency of Religious Affairs has established and runs over 1000 mosques in Europe though several subsidiaries like the DTTIB in Germany or the ATTIB in Austria. However since the AKP came to power and especially since relationships with the Hizmet movement by Fettah Gülen – once the primary promoter of Turkish culture and education abroad – cracked, the country is pursuing a pro-active diaspora diplomacy (Balci, 2014).

In 2010 the ‘Office for Public Diplomacy’ has been set up to coordinate various organisations under the auspices of the Prime Ministry to systematically oppose demonstrations against the government and to support their foreign policy. The Yunus Emre Foundation promotes Turkish culture and language abroad though educational programme, targeted at diasporas (Baser, 2017b). The focus on its diaspora has been further been amplified by the creation of the Office for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) that strengthen ties with everyone that has roots in Turkey. The motto of the “Wherever we have a citizen, kin or relative, there we are” emphasises a broad understanding of their target audience. Through a broad definition of diaspora, their target groups is around 200 million people including anyone with historic connections to the country.  While the rhetoric is inclusive of a broad target group, they exclusively sponsor sunni-muslim socio-conservative pro-AKP groups abroad(Baser, 2017b).

My last blog dealt with the opportunities diasporas pose to a country’s public diplomacy strategy but noted that political engagement with diasporas is to be treated with caution (Rana, 2013). Especially when policies by the ‘home’ state are in  stark contrast to the host country’s policies, diplomatic rifts can be expected. The YTB for example supports expatiates against “discrimination, assimilation, and xenophobia [that] have recently been on the rise across the world “(Yurtnac, 2012). Erdogan in a speech in Cologne in 2011 has called assimilation a “crime against humanity” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2010). while for European states integration is a central policy towards immigrants. In its quarterly magazine the YTB asks critical and important questions, but does not miss a chance to point towards German discrimination of Turks (Öktem, 2014).

In response to the prohibition of public rallies in the run up to the conceptional referendum Erdogan criticised Germany of “continuous Nazi practises“ (Jones, 2017). Although prohibited by Turkish law , all parties were eager to rally for votes from abroad resulting in deep rifts between Turkey and European governments. The Netherlands, themselves in the run up to a national election and afraid of a landslide win by far right Gert Wilders, prohibited the landing of foreign minister and escorted family minister Fatma Kaya back to Germany where she has entered the Netherlands. In Germany municipalities cancelled their due to the fire exit regulations.

Dual-citizenship and voting abroad are key transnational political instruments o keep diaspora political active in their home country. Since the presidential election in 2014 voting is allowed not only at the border but also at ballot boxes across Europe. Participation rates have increased but remain rather low, which indicates a ‘loud minority’ that continues to politically engage with Turkey.

Even though a greater majority than in Turkey voted for ‘Yes’, results have been varying across country’s, mainly due to their background. While in the UK and Sweden there is a Kurdish majority, in the Netherlands and Germany most Turks decedents of guest workers from Andalusia, an AKP stronghold in Turkey.

from (Baser, 2017a)

Overall the election was shaped by a intermestic election campaign. Through the diplomatic show off with the Netherlands and Germany the election on on the one hand was portrayed as a question of Turkish sovereignty, and on the other mobilised voters in the diaspora. However, considering the rather small turn out in Europe, majority voting ‘Yes’, it should be questioned whether it has been worth the diplomatic rift as it has severely harmed bilateral relations and the public perception of Turkey by most Europeans. Furthermore it has severely harmed the image of the whole Turkish diaspora.

The prohibitive response by the Netherlands and Europe has been said have “played into Erdogans hands” (Weise, 2017), which also shows that European politicians should rather engage with transnational political discussion rather than trying to prohibit them. Although the intermestic dimension of the campaign had an impact on votes ‘at home’, it is evident that it has severely harmed the public perception of Turkey by the broader public.  Therefore Turkeys PD- that aims to influence and inform foreign audience to achieve foreign policy objectives – has been significantly harmed by the AKP ideology led diaspora diplomacy.


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Alternative Facts

Alternative facts have first been used by Donald Trumps close aide Kellyanne Conway, who was addressing Donald Trump’s controversial declaration that his presidential inaugural ceremony was attended by the largest audience in history not just in America but throughout presidential inaugurations around the world.


A notion which was not true as pictures taken of the inauguration showed there weren’t as many people as president Trump claimed to have attended.


Conway continued to defend the administration’s position by claiming they presented an “alternative facts” different to the information conveyed by the media (al Jazeera, 2017)

A few weeks later Conway was again at the Centre of a new controversy. The president has signed an executive order banning the citizens from seven Muslim-majority states from entering the United States.


In an attempt to justify the ban Conway has pointed to two Iraqi men who were behind “the Bowling Green massacre” which she insisted was not covered by the media. The event she implied to of course never happened and the trump administration was mocked for their alternative truths

The concept was also recently used by the Philippines government in the United Nations, after reports that the Philippino security forces have killed thousands of people without trial at the orders of president Duterte who ordered the police and army to end the drug use in the Philippines. The Philippino representative claimed that reports of extrajudicial; killings were based on “alternative facts” and that the media fabricated those stories with no evidence. (CNN, 2017)


On the other hand the concept (not the name) of alternative facts predates Trump and Duterte, back to the days of the Nazi regime Hitler used the media to propagate his lies and propaganda to the German people, and fast forward in the twenty-first century, the American and British governments misinformed the public on Iraq’s non-existent links with al-Qaida and nuclear weapons. As the Chilcot report concluded that “there was no imminent threat” from Saddam Hussein and the intelligence was not justified. (BBC, 2016)

President Trump has had uneasy relations with the American media as they often questioned his motives and promises. However the president knows that much of the American public already believe the media to be biased and works only for the interest of few individuals and corporations

therefore by portraying himself as the one who is giving alternative, different perspective to that of the “corrupted” media, helps him find someone to blame for the mistakes he continuously makes.




Al Jazeera (2017) Trump aide mocked for fake ‘Bowling Green massacre’

BBC (2016) Chilcot report: Tony Blair’s Iraq War case not justified

CNN (2017) Philippines to UN: Reports of extrajudicial killings based on ‘alternative facts’