Gezi unrest prompts AKP to accelerate plan to open offices abroad
EU Minister Egemen Bağış (L) and AKP’s deputy chair in charge of external affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. AA photoThe ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has accelerated its long-held plans to open offices abroad at a time when Turkey’s image abroad has been increasingly overshadowed due to concerns over government-led actions that have been deemed an assault on democracy.
The AKP plans to open offices in important centers worldwide, including Brussels, Berlin, London and New York, in order to enhance the party’s international image, which was tarnished during the Gezi Park unrest. The acceleration of efforts to this end also comes at a time when Turkey is only months away from entering a marathon of three consecutive elections – local elections scheduled for March 2014, presidential elections scheduled for August 2014 and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2015.
“Lately, there are very negative things about Turkey in the international arena. There are complaints against the country and there are different comments using the Gezi incidents as a pretext along with assumptions that suggest there is a great deal of regression in the country,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the AKP’s deputy chair in charge of external affairs, told the Anadolu Agency on Aug. 21 in a bid to explain the aim of the initiative.
“The representation offices will not only play an important part in promoting our party, but also our country in the best way. But this is not the only purpose. After all, we aimed at this while establishing the party. But from now on, in order to be more active in the international arena, the Foreign Ministry, our state’s representatives on one hand, and we will be opening representative offices of our party in important centers in order to contribute to this process,” said Çavuşoğlu.
The first office will be opened in Brussels because of the importance Turkey attaches to the EU, he said.
Along with EU Minister Egemen Bağış, Çavuşoğlu said he would look for an appropriate venue for the office in Brussels, without elaborating on the date of the facility’s opening date.
Bağış, meanwhile, was said to already be in Brussels today, according to the Anadolu Agency.