Turkey's Washington envoy Tan engages in 'twitter diplomacy'
As part of efforts to incorporate innovative communication tools into Turkish diplomacy, which has become more public diplomacy-oriented in recent years in line with Turkey's vigorous foreign policy in its region and across the world, Turkey's Washington Embassy has stepped up its public diplomacy activities on online social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Ambassador Namik Tan, previously the deputy foreign undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, has become an active Twitter user under a new three-prong online communication policy to better reach out to the US and international public. As part of these efforts, Tan launched a Twitter account, to supplement the embassy's website, the official face of Turkey's diplomatic mission in the US capital. The site, turkishembassy.org, features announcements, statements, consular affair and so on. The second prong of the communication policy is the embassy's Facebook group, which in contrast with the formal embassy website offers glimpses into the daily lives and social activities of the embassy staff and Turks living in Washington and throughout the US. Among the features of the group are videos of Teachers' Day activities, concerts, and Turks bidding on taxies in New York. As the third prong of the policy, Tan's Twitter account presents an everyday perspective of the embassy staff. For instance, Tan and other embassy staffers share their feelings, joys, or jokes following games involving Turkish teams or athletes. Embassy staffers are required to come up with new suggestions for the account. On Wednesday, Teachers' Day, Tan posted a "tweet" honoring his mother, a retired educator. Speaking last year when he was still heading the Foreign Ministry's Public Diplomacy Department, Tan said public diplomacy could help Turkey better explain its foreign policy and actions to foreign audiences through various communication channels, adding that Turkey's public diplomacy strategy would be a two-way street to understand the tendencies, sensitivities and concerns of foreign publics. To this end, the Foreign Ministry and Turkey's representative offices abroad will get closely involved with media, think-tanks, non-governmental organizations and universities, he said. To achieve this goal, Tan said, ministry officials will use several methods, including traditional consultative meetings as well as modern communication platforms such as social networks Facebook and Twitter. "Public diplomacy is a new vision and new working area for our foreign policy," he said. "This area will go beyond the traditional diplomacy that we're used to, and will help us embrace new practices."