Turkey’s Enterprising and Humanitarian Diplomacy


Somalilandsun- Since the end of the Cold War, the global political, economic and social context has been going through significant changes. These changes bring challenges along with opportunities.Powered by its growing means and capabilities, Turkey strives to effectively respond to today’s challenges, in a determined and principled manner, as a reliable and responsible actor guided by the dictum: “Peace at Home, Peace in the World.”

Turkey pursues an enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy, which has a worldwide view of all the regions and partners around her and Turkey takes concrete initiatives to promote stability and prosperity in its region and beyond. While as an actor aiming to enhance its ties and cooperation with all partners for peace, security, stability and prosperity, Turkey has a cooperation-oriented understanding based on mutual respect and a win-win approach.

Turkey is a G-20 member. Turkish economy is the 17th largest economy in the world, and the 5th largest economy in Europe in terms of GNP by PPP. Turkish diplomatic outreach has grown immensely during recent years, currently totaling 240 missions abroad. With this figure, Turkey has the fifth largest global network all over the world. Likewise, the number of foreign missions in Turkey has grown correspondingly and reached 269 missions.

The priorities of Turkey’s foreign policy incorporate, among others, strengthening regional security and stability, fighting against terrorism, protecting the rights of Turkish citizens, deepening strategic ties, enhancing trade networks and energy security, strengthening ties with all geographies, cooperation within regional and international organizations, improving soft power.

In context with the above mentioned priorities, countering terrorism in an effective manner is at the top of Turkey’s agenda. Terrorism poses a major threat to international peace and security. It can only be addressed through effective international cooperation. Only joint action and solidarity can lead to a more secure and peaceful world. Across the globe, there is a need to address the root causes of terrorism and extremism. Failed states, economic inequalities, social injustice, lack of resources, fragilities and vulnerabilities require serious and concerted efforts. Terrorism and all forms of conflict and human misery breed on these bases. Therefore, we need more resilient states and societies, as well as inclusive economic growth in order to achieve sustainable development goals and social justice.

The Syrian conflict is now in its 8th year. It has claimed more than half a million lives,created more than 5 million refugees and more than 6 million internally displaced persons. It caused terrorist organizations like DAESH and PYD/YPG to find fertile ground. Turkey would like to see a stable, prosperous and democratic future-Syria, which is able to preserve its political unity and territorial integrity and is governed in line with its people’s legitimate aspirations.

Turkey continues its efforts to calm the situation on the ground and to end the ongoing conflict through a political solution. Turkey supports a political solution to the Syrian conflict based on established UN parameters. Through Astana meetings, considerable progress has been made on the consolidation of the ceasefire, implementation of the de-escalation memorandum and adoption of confidence-building measures between the conflicting parties.

The Cyprus question is an issue of establishing a new partnership between the two co-owners of the Island. This new partnership would replace the one destroyed by the Greek Cypriot side in 1963. Negotiations for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue have been going on for half a century under auspices of the UN. Each one of the various settlement processes since 1968 have failed due to this persistent Greek Cypriot attitude. Without a change in the Greek Cypriots’ mindset, the establishment of a new partnership on the Island would be impossible.

Turkey, in context with its foreign policy priorities aims to strengthen its existing strategic ties and establish new ones.

Turkey and the United States have been close allies and partners for more than sixty years. Turkey-US relations are crucial not only in bilateral terms but also for regional and global matters. From the Korean War to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa to Kosovo and Iraq, we have fought in solidarity. Turkey also hosts the İncirlik Base, which has been crucial in the fight against DAESH.

Turkey sees NATO as the linchpin of Euro-Atlantic security. We are a responsible and reliable ally for over six decades. Turkey is among the top five contributors to NATO’s operations.  Moreover, we are the eight largest contributor to NATO in financial terms. We have long been undertaking key responsibilities in Afghanistan within the framework of the Resolute Support Mission as the framework nation for Kabul region and for the management and security of the Hamid Karzai International Airport.  The Turkish Armed Forces make substantial contributions to NATO in various fields.

Turkey’s Enterprising and Humanitarian Diplomacy

Turkey is a negotiating candidate country for EU membership. EU membership remains a strategic foreign policy objective. We are committed to our accession process. The ball is on the EU’s court to move the process further. We have multi-dimensional and deep-rooted relations with the EU. Turkey is the fifth largest trading partner of the EU and EU is the largest trading partner of Turkey.

Turkey, in line with its foreign policy objectives undertakes outreach and partnership strategies towards Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.

In Africa, Turkey has increased the number of its embassies from 12 in 2002 to currently 41 to deepen its relations in all fields.

Turkey is a strategic partner of the African Union since 2008 and a non-regional member of the African Development Bank since 2013 and maintaining institutional relations with African regional economic communities such as Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In Asia-Pacific, we have established strategic partnerships with Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore as well as a strategic cooperation with China. Turkey has also developed multilateral ties and become a sectoral dialogue partner with the ASEAN, a dialogue partner with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and a Post Forum Dialogue Partner with the Pacific Islands Forum.

In its outreach to Latin America and the Caribbean, Turkey has enlarged its diplomatic network to 16 missions in the region strengthening its bilateral relations in all possible fields and has also established institutional ties with regional organizations.

Today’s global challenges can be most effectively countered through collective efforts and effective multilateralism. As a responsible global partner, Turkey undertakes active roles in a range of international and regional platforms. Over the past few years, Turkey has spearheaded various international initiatives and assumed presidencies/chairmanships of a number of international organizations.

Turkey assumes active roles in prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts, including through mediation, and in fostering mutual respect and common values around the globe. Ourefforts to highlight the importance of mediation in prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts transcends into the multilateral sphere. In 2010, Turkey spearheaded, jointly with Finland, the “Mediation for Peace” initiative within the UN in order to raise awareness for mediation. The Group of “Friends of Mediation” formed within this framework has reached 56 members. A similar group is co-chaired by Turkey-Finland-Switzerland at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

As part of its leading role in the field of mediation, Turkey also hosts “Istanbul Conferences on Mediation. The four conferences held in February 2012, April 2013,  June 2014 and June 2017 brought together representatives from various institutions, NGOs and experts. Turkey, as a Summit Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), hosted the first ever OIC Member States Conference on Mediation on 21 November 2017 in İstanbul, with the theme “Surge in Mediation: The Role of OIC”.

The UN Alliance of Civilizations Initiative, co-sponsored by Turkey and Spain, currently with 146 members, represents the strongest response to the scenarios of the so-called “Clash of Civilizations”. Thus, boosting this global initiative is essential, now more than ever, for strengthening the “immunity system” of the world.

Humanitarian diplomacy is another indispensable aspect of Turkish foreign policy. Turkey has been a leading actor in humanitarian diplomacy with its focus on the human cause through its official development and humanitarian aid. According to the OECD Development Assistance Committee, Turkey was the biggest humanitarian aid donor worldwide in 2017 and the most generous donor when the ratio of official humanitarian assistance to national income (0.85%) is taken into consideration.

Turkey has been pursuing an open door policy for Syrians who had to flee their country in the past seven years due to ongoing violence. Over 3.5 million Syrians are currently hosted in Turkey. Around 230,000 of them live in one of 21 temporary protection centers. More than 600 thousand Syrian children continue their education in Turkey. The schooling rate among Syrian children in the age of primary education is 97 percent. Furthermore, the number of Syrian teenagers studying in Turkish universities is over 20 thousand.

Turkey maintains its position as the biggest host country according to the UN Refugee Agency figures. Turkey hosted the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in May 2016. The Summit helped better address today’s complex humanitarian challenges. One of the key achievements of the WHS was the recognition that the old debates on humanitarian and development divide should be overcome through a new way of working – NWOW.

In this context, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the WHS, Turkey hosted a high level event and a New Way of Working Workshop in İstanbul on 18-19 May 2017, which aimed at further unifying and strengthening collective efforts to assist the people in need.  The combined use of humanitarian and development tools turn out to be cost effective for donors in the longer run as affected countries become more resilient increasing their level of development, thanks to development aids on basic infrastructure, human and institutional capacity-building. This development assistance enables affected countries to resist such humanitarian shocks, which in turn would reduce their need of humanitarian aids in the future.

With its 41 missions and observer and a strategic partner status at the African Union, Africa is at the center of Turkey’s global vision of humanitarian diplomacy. In fact, the combined use of humanitarian and development assistance programs in a collective strategy has been especially visible in sub-Saharan Africa.

Several projects were put into action which consisted of human and institutional capacity building, construction of essential infrastructure, providing services such as education, sanitation and health etc. while humanitarian aids such as delivering food and medicine continued. These policies are always carried out in cooperation with authorities of the host country in need, taking into account the demands of the people.

Ali Noyan Coşkun, Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Hargeisa Somaliland

Turkey believes that achieving global justice and prosperity in an equitable manner is key for a peaceful and stable world. With this understanding, Turkey employs enterprising and humanitarian foreign and development policy. It goes without saying that for these good causes a global solidarity and burden-sharing is of utmost importance.

To sum up, Turkey, with its growing means and capabilities pursues an enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy.

The author Ali Noyan Coşkun, Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Hargeisa Somaliland