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Persuading through Culture, Values, and Ideas: The Case of Turkey’s Cultural Diplomacy

Cultural diplomacy always links to and often overlaps with soft power and public diplomacy. Thus, the three notions have entered the lexicon of International Relations, and have become standard terms in foreign policy thinking. Drawing on the conceptualization of cultural diplomacy, this article examines the features, structure, actors, and possibilities of Turkey’s foreign cultural strategy. Specifically, it focuses on an analysis of the double dimension of Turkish cultural diplomacy, the high-culture, and the pop-culture, asserting that the success of the latter has allowed Turkey to limit the damage to its soft power caused by domestic political turmoil. Furthermore, the research aims to highlight how Turkey has used culture as a resource for its diplomacy –useful for strengthening relations with other countries, enhancing cooperation, and promoting Turkish interests abroad.

Persuading through Culture Values and Ideas The Case of Turkey
A group of students are seen at an Ebru (marbling) course, organized by the Yunus Emre Institute in London, United Kingdom on September 21, 2018. YUNUS EMRE INSTITUTE / HANDOUT / AA Photo
 

In the 1960s, Canadian Philosopher Marshall McLuhan predicted one of the main outcomes of the process of globalization: that mass media would be able to convert the world into a village.1 Nowadays, in the post-modern wired society, a statement or simply a tweet of 280 characters can reach and affect audiences across the world. In the current interdependent world dominated by globalized media, collective cultural identities are no longer delimited by national borders and the shortening of time and space span has become a reality while geographic boundaries have begun losing its meaning.2 These developments have caused important changes not only in the social, economic and political arenas, they have also affected the areas of world politics and diplomacy. Notably, the latter has experienced a period of great changes, which witnessed the emergence of new kinds of initiatives encompassing international relations and going beyond traditional diplomacy.3 Among these, public diplomacy is fed by the possibilities and opportunities brought by globalization. According to Nicholas Cull, “public diplomacy is an international actor’s attempt to manage the international environment through engagement with a foreign public,”4 or, in other words, “a government’s diplomatic efforts that target citizens, the press, and foreign country constituencies directly rather than their governments.”5


Public diplomacy plays a central role for the emerging middle powers, which are trying to gain international visibility and political significance, relying on a smaller number of material resources than the great powers


Although public diplomacy is a notion traceable back in time, its implementation started after the Cold War period, alongside the growing interest in soft power tools.6 Indeed, the f

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