Turkey steps up public diplomacy push to dispel misconceptions among US confress, media
Turkey is set to step up public diplomacy efforts to dispel misconceptions about Turkish foreign policy among the US Congress and media in the months since Turkey voted against new sanctions on Iran at the UN Security Council as well as its outrage at Israel's deadly May 31 aid flotilla raid. Some US congressmen have expressed increasing uneasiness with Turkey's foreign policy path in recent years, questioning whether Ankara is a reliable US ally any more. They have also expressed suspicion of Turkey's changing foreign policy priorities, branding them an "axis shift." Similar views have also made their ways into the US media. Turkey denies such claims, and a high-profile Foreign Ministry delegation recently visited Washington to assure high-level US officials that Turkey will continue intensive bilateral cooperation in various areas, and that the two countries' foreign policy priorities largely overlap. Against this backdrop, Turkey's new public diplomacy push aims to help US congressmen and members of the media get information firsthand about Turkey and its foreign policy, thus avoiding groundless misperceptions. To this end, nearly 30 US congressmen and a number of leading US commentators, including Roger Cohen and Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, will be invited to Turkey. The congressmen set to visit Turkey notably include both Democrats and Republicans, either pro-Turkish or Turkey-skeptic. During their visit, the congressmen and media commentators are set to hold various talks and be received by both President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.