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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Balci B. (2014) The Gülen Movement and Turkish Soft Power. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. [online] 04 February 2014. available at: http://carnegieendowment.org/2014/02/04/g-len-movement-and-turkish-soft-power-pub-54430. last accessed 14 May 2017.

Beise E. (2016) Turkey’s crackdown propels number of journalists in jail worldwide to record high. Committee to Protect Journalists. [online] 13. December 2016 available at: https://cpj.org/reports/2016/12/journalists-jailed-record-high-turkey-crackdown.php. last accessed 14 May 2017.

Cevik S. (2015) The “Ethos Gap”: A Challenge or an Opportunity for Turkey’s Nation Brand. USC- Centre of Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School  [online blog] available at: http://uscpublicdiplomacy.org/blog/“ethos-gap”-challenge-or-opportunity-turkey’s-nation-brand-part-1. last accessed 2 May 2017.

Chase J. (2017) What You Need To Know About The Turkish Referendum’ Deutsche Welle. 08.04.2017. available at <http://www.dw.com/en/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-turkish-referendum/a-38353168&gt. last accessed 2 May 2017.

Huijgh E and Warlick J. (2016) The Public Diplomacy Of Emerging Powers, Part 1: The Case Of Turkey , USC- Centre of Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School, available at <https://uscpublicdiplomacy.org/sites/uscpublicdiplomacy.org/files/useruploads/u35361/The%20PD%20of%20Emerging%20Powers.pdf&gt. last accessed 2 May 2017.

Jones C. (2017) Erdogan accuses Germany of ‘Nazi practices’. Financial Times. [online] 05. March 2017. available at:https://www.ft.com/content/a5fb98cc-01c3-11e7-aa5b-6bb07f5c8e12. last accessed 2 May 2017.

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Rana, K. S. (2013). Diaspora Diplomacy and Public Diplomacy. In R. S. Zaharna,A. Arsenault & A. Fisher (Eds.), Relational, Networked and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy: The Connective Mindshift (pp. 70–85). Oxon: Routledge.

Süddeutsche Zeitung Erdogan-Rede in Köln im Wortlaut “Assimilation ist ein Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit” [online] 17. Mai 2010.  available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/erdogan-rede-in-koeln-im-wortlaut-assimilation-ist-ein-verbrechen-gegen-die-menschlichkeit-1.293718.  last accessed 2 May 2017.

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Weise Z. (2017) Berlin-Ankara spat plays into Erdoğan’s hands. Politico. [online] 08. March 2017. available at:  http://www.politico.eu/article/berlin-ankara-spat-plays-into-erdogans-hands-hurts-merkel/ last accessed 2 May 2017.

Yurtnaç K. (2012) Turkey’s New Horizon: Turks Abroad and Related Communities. SAM Paper no.3.

Diaspora Diplomacy in a Digital Age


image from http://thetropicalist.press/2016/09/the-problem-with-diaspora-diplomacy/

The importance of diasporas in public diplomacy is increasingly recognised. Diasporas are ‘natural representatives’ of countries that significantly shape the national image abroad and are ‘living links’ between the host and home states which may play a decisive economic and political role in the relationship between countries(Rana,2013). According to the World Bank 247 million live outside their country of birth and the ‘digital revolution’ as well as cheaper travelling costs enable them to retain close connections with their home land. States can tape their public diplomacy strategy in these transnational networks to ‘influence and inform’ as well as to increase economic interaction with the diaspora as well the foreign state.
This blog briefly examines why and how states engage with diasporas abroad and what impact the the emerge of international communication technologies has had on states and their relationship with diasporas.
Diasporas are communities living abroad while retaining strong connections and remembrances of their country of origin (Rana, 2013:70). However, diasporas are difficult to conceptualise. On the one hand they have left their country of origin for very different reasons and on the other already ‘naturalise’ in the first generation while in other cases there is a strong sentiments of belonging also in the second or third generation(Beine et al., 2009). However it should be reminded that they are not per se political actors and diasporic organizations do not legitimately represent ‘the’ diaspora as whole and thus may be prone to misrepresentations (Ragazzi, 2009).

Rana ( 2013:75) argues that diaspora diplomacy should entail economic, political or cultural elements but ultimately must be seen in its entirety, though warns that political engagement should be approached cautiously, since it might be viewed as an inference in domestic affairs.

Traditional consular services and diplomatic protection play an important role for migrants, but also other institutions such as religious organisations or language classes are usually set up. Diaspora organise themselves and retain connections with their home state also without governmental involvement. These non-govermental diaspora organisations enjoy greater credibility, however lack a coherent message that a government might want to portray abroad. Levitt  (2001) has argued that how individuals determine their belonging depends to a large extend on the degree of ‘institutional opportunities’ that the host state or the diaspora community offers. If the latter is widespread a state may cooperate with these institutions. Vice versa through additional programmes by the home state they may encourage political loyalty and economic interaction (Levitt, 2001).
Culturally, diasporas are natural representatives and through the daily interaction with their host society shape profoundly the national brand abroad. For example the importance of gastrodiplomacy has been stressed several times and relies heavily on migrant communities and chiefs to open up restaurants. Even though its political importance may be disputable, it is evident that food can shape perceptions of a country and that the nation brand, at the very minimum, is a crucial factor for tourism.

The economic potential of diasporas cannot be overestimated. For some states remittances – money sent to the country of origin – is of eminent importance for economic stability. Haiti for example receives 24% , Moldova 23% of its GDP in remittances by its expatiates making up nearly 10 times the direct foreign investment. It is the most direct development aid and over time develops into sustainable trade links beneficial to both states. Moreover, through sustaining transnational networks they open markets which is of in the interest of all states regardless of remittances.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 22.05.08.png

image from (Global Remittances Guide, 2016)

So what does the digital revolution mean for the engagement with diasporas?
Manor has presented two contradictory trends in digital diaspora diplomacy. Due to the growth of diasporas they become more relevant to bilateral relations, however through increased connections with the ‘home’ country the local diaspora community has lost in relevance and consequently is less relevant in bilateral relations (Manor, 2016). However, especially because they sustain deeper transnational networks they have become more relevant actors and for states there are more legal and legitimate ways to engage with these networks.

Overall it can be concluded that diaspora networks offer a wide range of opportunities for states to build on their PD strategies. The digital revolution has opened new channels and platform of interactions and thus made diasporas a key actors and target groups of transnational two-way public diplomacy.


Beine M., Doquier F.&Özden C., (2009), Diasporas, The World Bank Development Research Group, Policy Research Working Paper 4984
Global Remittances Guide (2016) Migration Policy Center available at http://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/global-remittances-guide last accessed: 03.05.2017
Levitt P.(2001) Transnational migration: taking stock and future directions, Global Networks 1, 3
Manor I. (2016) “The Ties that Bind: Front Line Diplomats and Digital Diaspora Diplomacy” Paper presented at the BSIA Workshop on frontline diplomacy, Waterloo available at
Ragazzi F., (2009) The Invention of the Croatian Diaspora: Unpacking the Politics of “Diaspora” During the War in Yugoslavia, Global Migration and Transnational Politics, Working Paper no.10
Rana, K. S., (2013) Diaspora Diplomacy and Public Diplomacy. In R. S. Zaharna,A. Arsenault & A. Fisher (Eds.), Relational, Networked and Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy: The Connective Mindshift (pp. 70–85). Oxon: Routledge.
World Bank,(2016) MIGRATION AND REMITTANCES FACTBOOK THIRD EDITION, available at https://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/334934-1199807908806/4549025-1450455807487/Factbookpart1.pdf last accessed 03.05.2017

European Cultural Diplomacy – a Coherent Message of Diversity

“Cultural diplomacy is an integral part of our common foreign policy” said Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (European Commission, 2016b).


Picture from: http://www.cultureinexternalrelations.eu/

In March 2016 the EU has launched the cultural diplomacy platform to enhance the cultural dialogue with citizens abroad. This blog briefly examines the role of cultural diplomacy within the EEAS and argues that while for states a coherent national image is desirable, the EEAS cultural message especially draws from its diversity. Therefore it is in a prime position to foster international cultural relations.

Cultural diplomacy is key to a successful public diplomacy, however distinct in its essence. While PD attempts to ‘influence and inform’ foreign publics in line with the countries foreign policy through a coherent message, the focus within cultural diplomacy rather lies on the provision of platforms to foster international cultural relations (Bound, 2007:19). Through increased cultural relations networks are built that are crucial for successful PD strategies and ultimately foreign policies (Davidson, 2008).

Cultural diplomacy has been described by Senator Fulbright as the ‘most effective weapon’ to win the ‘war of ideas’ (Schneider, 2010:102) and as PD it thrives in a paradiplomatic world, where cities, regions, states and international organisations are involved (Melissen, 2007:10).



Since the Treaty of Lisbon the European External Action Service, with 140 delegations across the world, has significantly increased its capacity and credibility abroad. While the initial phase of the EAAS has been characterised by ‘institutional turf battles’, semantic discussions – do not call them embassies – and uncertainty of who is responsible for what (Petry, 2014). Today, they have manifested themselves as European coordinator and a genuine actor on the international stage. Its role in the negotiators with the Iranian nuclear deal or Somali pirates can been seen as a great success for the EU. With core foreign policy competences, e.g trade and the ability to speak for the biggest economic bloc and 500 people, its voice has considerable weight. Distinct to states the EEAS does not have its own military, while this is often said to be its main weakness, it may also seen as a strength. Multilateral organisations are often seen as more credible than states, and as “quiet superpower” connotations between EU cultural diplomacy and propaganda are less likely (Moravcsik, 2003).

CD is, and arguably has always been a central tool of diplomacy. However, a study shown that the EU itself has enjoyed only limited awareness around the world. Some programmes, such as Creative Europe and Horizon 2020 of the EU have already had previously outreach to countries within the European Neighbourhood Policy and in these countries the EU is seen as a central player.

The main weakness of the involvement in cultural relations is that there is only a weak mandate arising from the treaties in relation to culture.


Picture:(EEAS, 2017)

Member states sponsor cross border cultural programs and run cultural institutes with 914 offices within the EU and 1253 outside the EU (Yolanda:2016:11). While their mandate is mainly to promote national culture and language, in its entirety they represent European diversity, values. The cultural diplomacy platform is an additional way of collaboration and for national institutes that they are under increasing budget constraints pose a new venue for international outreach.

Therefore it is not a new European cultural policy but rather the next step in collaboration between national cultural institutes. The national cultural institutes have diverting regional emphasises therefore collaboration is a cost effective way of advancing their outreach. Other than trade which is an either or competence, we argue that culture is more effective the more levels of governance are involved. The new cultural diplomacy platform is thus not only a way to improve the EU image abroad but for European States to promote their national culture, within a common but diverse framework.


Bound K. et al. (2007) “Cultural Diplomacy”, Demos.

DAVIDSON M. (2008) – “CULTURAL RELATIONS: BUILDING NETWORKS TO FACE TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY CHALLENGES” in Engagement – Public Diplomacy in a Globalised World, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

European Commission (2016a) “JOINT COMMUNICATION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL: Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations” accessibly at http://www.cultureinexternalrelations.eu/cier-data/uploads/2016/12/Joint-Communication_EU-international-cultural-relations.pdf.  last accessed 2.5.17

European Commission (2016b) “New European Cultural Diplomacy Platform launched” available at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/fpi/announcements/news/20160401_1_en.htm last accessed 2.5.17

EEAS (2015) “EU Delegations and Offices around the World” available at https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage_en/2155/EU%20Delegations%20and%20Offices%20around%20the%20World last accessed 2.5.17

Isar J. (2014) “‘CULTURE IN EU EXTERNAL RELATIONS’ Engaging the World: Towards Global Cultural Citizenship” Report for the European Commission available at: http://ec.europa.eu/assets/eac/culture/library/publications/global-cultural-citizenship_en.pdf last accessed 2.5.17

Melissen J. (2005)The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice. In: Melissen J. (eds.) The New Public Diplomacy Soft Power in International Relations. Basingstoke, UK: Palsgrave Macmillan, pp. 3-23

Moravcsik A. (2003) How Europe can win without an army. Financial Times. April 2 2003 [online] available at: http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=Stor yFT&cid=1048313410630&p=1012571727126. last accessed: May 25 2017

Petry S. (2012) From Commission Delegations to EU Embassies: External Perceptions of EU Diplomacy. In: Mahncke D. and Gstoehl S. (eds.) European Union Diplomacy: Coherency, Unity and Effectiveness with a foreword by Herman Van Rompuy. Switzerland: Peter Lang AG, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften pp. 215-238

Public Policy and Management Institute (2015) ANALYSIS OF THE PERCEPTION OF THE EU AND EU‘S POLICIES ABROAD. available at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/fpi/documents/showcases/eu_perceptions_study_final_report.pdf.  last accessed 2.5.17

Yolanda, S., Daubeuf, C. and Kern, P. (2016) RESEARCH FOR CULT COMMITTEE – EUROPEAN CULTURAL INSTITUTES ABROAD. [online] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/563418/IPOL_STU(2016)563418_EN.pdf. Available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/563418/IPOL_STU(2016)563418_EN.pdf.  last accessed 9 Mar. 2017.

“Cultural diplomacy is an integral part of our common foreign policy” said Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.







Its “‘military grade’ data-driven psychometric micro-targeting”, stupid!

It is balm on to the liberal democratic wounds which recent election results have rub salt into. How could the UK vote to leave the European Union and the US vote for Donald J Trump be president? These decision cannot be based on reason, since most polls suggested another outcome and the broad bulk of analysts and public figures supported Remain and Clinton, can they?

Finally we have got an answer. It wasn’t reason that founded decision it was “military grade’ data-driven psychometric micro-targeting”. This is the use of big scale psychological data used to micro target information which may be true or not. That is of secondary importance.

A recent article in the Swiss newspaper “the magazine” portrays in the article “I have only shown that the bomb is existing” Michael Kosinski. The man who created a system that claims to be able to know people better than their working colleagues according to 68 likes. The idea is simple. It collects psychometric data of individuals, applies it to the big five personality traits and thus enabling a candidate to precisely know what an individual in front of an election campaigner desires or despises. It can predict the persons political views, sexuality, religion, alcohol as well as drug consumption.  He claims his model is able to predict the answers of a person before it gave answers and thus improving the systems accuracy exponentially. The systems possibilities have no ends; the dangers neither. Dramatically his former student colleague at Cambridge Alexander Nix, founder and CEO of Cambridge Analytics [CA], took his idea and used it for the wrong purposes – to advise anti establishments movement around the world. It collects emotional data and uses the press to stir these emotions up. Now we find ourselves waking up with Trump and Brexit even tough at the time we went to bed we were so sure the other side was winning. What a nightmare; thankfully tough it wasn’t due to the actual positions the candidates stood for it was due CA the narrative goes.

Simple narratives work. For everyone. According to the slogan of the republican communication strategist Luntz Global “IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SAY. IT’S WHAT THEY HEAR.”

So why is it that anti-establishment parties have made so much more use of it in recent elections?

The use of data which people give away knowingly or not in personality tests, little Facebook games or friend networks or likes is all but new. Barack Obama’s first and second victory was due to the back then innovative use of social media. It concentrated on the connections of people though their friendship networks on Facebook. According to Sasha Issenberg he had the biggest structural advantage over his rival candidate who still relied on old school membership list from allies. David Carr has made the argument that as the first non-baby-boom candidate he actually understood the value of technology and could nearly completely do without the old school party machinery due to his innovative data collection.

Targeted election campaigning as old as democracy. In local elections fifty years ago a candidate also spoke with the local plumber about the difficulties of small enterprises and too high taxes, with a single mother about the expansion of kindergarten spaces and with the pensionser about what value old people wisdom is too society.

At the beginning of the any election campaign technological campaigning innovations are available to all candidates and indeed are used by all. So what is this CA conspiracy all about? It is nothing more than an ex-post exaggeration of facts. Yes, the Trump campaign has been successful. Was this predictable due to a strategy he used? No,  “You can’t model behavior without an outcome variable – especially so, with unique candidates like Donald Trump. CA has not been Trumps’ only data consulting company. Hillary Clinton has used similar concepts of how to use Big Data. If CA is the company with the secret key to any election win, why did Ted Cruz loose to Trump? He was the first to hire CA. There must be more to win an election.

So what is the military grade about? It’s the micro targeted spread of fake news. Is fake news then something new? Politics has never been a source of researched fact based positions. What others call propaganda and usually expect it from coming from a foreign country, is today mixed to a pot which makes nearly impossible to determine the source of “false, hyper-biased, and politically-loaded information” which instantly shapes public opinion. It is an old and reliable concept to deter the other candidates voters, however neither is this a enough to win an election.

As my colleague pointed out in his blog it has been an important factor in the election but ultimately the problem lies in the “see & share” approach. Social media has to find new approaches to tackle fake news. However to blame social media or even the internet itself would prioritise “the tool over the environment”[Morozov, 2011, xii]. Social Media is a way of communication not a factor of the voting decision. Ultimately we need to talk about the environment we hold our elections in. In the end its our personal decision to give our data to dubious companies as well as to vote for one or the other person. It is not the internet to blame. It is not a analytical company to blame, at most CA can claim to have a great advertisement run all around the world.

Morozov, E.V. (2011) The net delusion: The dark side of Internet freedom. New York, NY: PublicAffairs,U.S.

Public Diplomacy by the UK embassy in Austria – a crucial component in Brexit negotiations

HMA-Wurstle-logo-900x527Picture: (Turner, 2016a)

The UK has appointed Leigh Turner as the new HMQ ambassador to Austria. He quickly  made his way into the most famous Austrian late night show ‘Willkommen Österreich’ with an introductory video message in which he emphasises in Austrian dialect Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 15.00.32.pngimportance of finding a common language for the Brexit negotiations. In the show he was  ridiculed as anyone else, but negative sentiments toward the Brexit decision became apparent. Nonetheless, he reached a large audience which are usually not interested in what diplomats do. A great start into the post in challenging times for British intra European embassies as they will play a crucial role in the upcoming months.

As disintegration negotiations are unprecedented and a difficult diplomatic endeavour themselves, its success ultimately depends on a holistic collaboration agreement.

And as trade deals have become a heated topic in the public discourse, the success of the negotiations, ultimately, is closely connected to whether or not the UK can win (back?} the ‘heart and minds’ of the people from every single remaining member states. In this quest UK embassies can take a key role.

The EU has fundamentally changed intra European diplomacy. As much diplomatic focus has shifted to the multilateral arena in Brussels  (especially COREPER the preparatory body of the Council of the EU), some states e.g. the UK have reduced the budget of bilateral embassies. However, within the multi-level governance framework interactions take place in various forums and ways (Bátora , 2003). Bilateral interactions often takes place directly between different levels of public administration. Nonetheless, with the increasing importance of the multilateral arena, bilateral representatives have played an important role in providing the political context to certain policy positions in Brussels as well as to improve the national image abroad (Bátora  and Hocking, 2008).


Overall trade falls into the exclusive competence of the EU and is negotiated by the Commission, but comprehensive trade agreement as one expects between the EU and the UK will be a ‘mixed agreement’ requiring the approval by all 27 member states.

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 14.49.21 1Picture : (Kaczyński, 2011)

Even though the ECJ issued an opinion on a trade deal with Singapore that clarifies that it does not need ratification in all member states where they have exclusive competences, however it does so with mixed agreements and decisively as the court also noted that it is required to set up an investment court system as the ‘Comprehensive  Economic and Trade Agreement’ with Canada did. As the Tories have made it clear that they want to exit the jurisdiction of the ECJ, it will be a decisive and difficult issue at an early stage of the negotiations. Key points in the protests against CETA and TTIP have been the interaction of such a court and the lack of transparency of the negotiations. With only two years time for negotiating Brexit and the subsequent trade agreement  as well as the ratification by 28 national parliaments and the european parliament, the UK embassy in Austria will have to provide the UK negotiation delegation with potential common objectives, context to current policy stands. On top of that convince the Austrian parliament and the public that it is a good deal for Austria.

Since his appointment Leigh Turner had appearances on national TV and Radio Programmes, Moreover is he highly active in writing blogs and engaging with the the public. Recently he even got the support of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, who visited Vienna for two days on a royal ‘Brexit charm offensive’. Interestingly, while most are exclusively interested in issues surrounding Brexit, on his blog and and his Twitter account (with over 16.000 followers) he focuses on other issues such as human trafficking or global health. Accidentally he recently made headlines for being chased by a wild boar. Fortunately he could quickly recover and take the opportunity to raise awareness of his online presence and the embassy’s work.

Overall this is not hollow distraction from Brexit but amplifies that close cooperation between the EU and the UK after Brexit is as important as before and that in order to provide the political and legal framework, the heart and minds of people have to be won.

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