I found an interesting article about Turkey and a possible public diplomacy effort in Europe. There are about five million Turkish immigrants living in Europe in 2008. Turkey has been trying to secure membership in the European Union (EU) since 1999. But their efforts have been fruitless as Germany and France continue to refuse their bid.
According to the article, “Turks living in Germany could be public diplomacy tool “
Burak Erdenir, advisor to minister of state and minister of EU affairs and chief negotiator Egemen Bağış, said: “Turkey should start to invigorate Turkish immigrants in Europe as an effective diplomatic tool for EU membership. They have been in Europe for 50 years, but Turkey has not managed to mobilize them.’’
And continues to say that
‘’Euro Turks’’ are very important in building Turkey’s image in Europe, Erdenir underlined the significant role Turkish intellectuals, artists and writers could play in influencing European public opinion by referring to the award Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan won at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. He claimed this award helped change the negative image of Turkey.
Erdenir has a very simplistic idea of how Turkish immigrants can be used as a diplomatic tool to promote Turkey’s image and possibly gain membership in the EU. However, it seems like he doesn’t take into account whether or not these immigrants will identify with Turkey or with the country they are residing in. Maybe the 1st generation Turkish immigrants will identify with Turkey, whereas the 2nd generation or later Turkish immigrants might identify as either French or German. At most, these Turkish immigrants can disseminate their cultural tradition.
Also, it makes me wonder if Erdenir takes into account how these countries already view Turkey because of the large number of Turkish immigrants. If Turkey tries to mobilize its immigrant population in other countries as a form of public diplomacy to become a member of the EU, I can see it having negative effects from both the immigrant population and the countries they are trying to influence.