Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs
Information technologies and the wide-spread use of internet brought about new forms of diplomacy including the one we name “digital diplomacy”. Today, social media is an important public diplomacy tool for foreign services as well as politicians.
As the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, I am an active user of social media instruments, mainly the Twitter. I share messages about foreign policy of our country, reflecting both the objectives and the implementation. I have about 795.000 followers. I have a Facebook page followed by almost 200.000 people.
I take pride in stating that our Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey (MFA) is well-known nationally and internationally for the use of innovative technologies. E-Visa is one of the innovative services that the MFA provides. It offers a preferable alternative to regular visa, since it takes only 3 minutes on average to get e-Visa over www.evisa.gov.tr. It was awarded the first prize in the “e-TR e-Government awards” in 2013 under the category of Government to Citizens e-Services. It also reached the finals in the category of “Improving the Delivery of Public Services” at the United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA) in 2015.
MFA introduced a new portal for Foreign Missions in Turkey, namely the Diplomatic Portal. The applications and requests of Foreign Missions are sent and processed online. MFA and foreign missions also exchange e-Notes over Diplomatic Portal. Thus, Diplomatic Portal not only saves time, but also helps reduce carbon footprint.
In this age of digitalized information MFA is aiming to disseminate correct and timely information to the international community. The web pages of MFA and our missions abroad, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are the main instruments that we benefit from.
In 2016 more than 4,5 million visitors clicked on MFA’s web pages. Together with the web pages of our missions, one can find information about Turkey in 18 different languages. The Twitter account of MFA in our official language Turkish has 1.25 million followers and ranks No.2 among the Foreign Ministries in the world. English, French and Arabic are other languages MFA uses to tweet, whereas the official Facebook page is administrated in Turkish and English. Official YouTube channel of MFA has had almost one million viewers so far.
We inaugurated a new web site in December 2016, dedicated to the people of Turkey who demonstrated historic and heroic resistance against the plotters of the 15 July coup attempt. 15.07.gov.tr is a web site in English aimed at enlightening foreign audiences about 15 July; as well as giving information about FETO, the mastermind behind this terrorist attack which took the lives of nearly 250 people and wounded thousands. The web site contains a detailed timeline of milestone events before, during and after 15 July. It has a library consisting of books and articles. It runs news and tweets related to 15 July and FETO. Digital age will give us the opportunity to create the digital memory. Therefore, this site will not only serve as a memorial to the heroes of 15 July, but also constitute an important source of information for the researchers of today and the next generation. 15.07.gov.tr has a “responsive” design which allows the webpage to be viewed in response to the different screen sizes of all desktops, smartphones and tablets. In addition, all the content of the web page has the “share” feature.
Beyond doubt social media will have an increasing importance in the field of diplomacy. Therefore, personally and institutionally, we will intensify our efforts for the best use of digital diplomacy. Actually, this is why we formed a new unit at MFA in charge of communications and relations with civil society organizations. This unit will coordinate our digital diplomacy work.
Through you, I send my regards and best wishes to all members of the digital diplomacy community and social media followers.