Foreign ambassadors risk losing credibility
The ambassador was appointed to Ankara a few years ago. The companies from his country already have investments in Turkey.
The envoy believes in the future of Turkey and argues there is a lot of potential for more investment.
Yet, 2016 has been a difficult year for promoting Turkey, as terror attacks have been followed by a failed coup. A few months after the failed coup, the envoy mulls beginning to promote Turkey.
First, he or she tries to dissipate concerns about security, claiming major urban centers are safe.
Then, the country decides to go to a referendum to change from the parliamentary system to the presidential system. Perhaps it is not good news in the short term, says the envoy. But then again, this might be better in the midterm, since the wishes of the country’s leader to concentrate power on the one hand can materialize; making things easier to proceed, as his style of fast decision-making will not bump into legal obstacles.
While the envoy tries to keep an optimist rhetoric on Turkey, the host country’s relations with major European economies like Germany and the Netherlands have hit rock bottom.
Relations with the western world are important for the business community. The accession process to the European Union was stalled but not frozen, but this has been a realty that all who do business with Turkey have been facing for some time.
It would irrational to expect the membership process to revive quickly, as after all, some freedoms were restricted (some for understandable reasons) after the failed coup attempt. But obviously, this was rather a temporary situation, especially the state of emergency. When it comes to a war of words with some European countries. These crises have also been driven by domestic politics, as there were polls both in Turkey and in Europe.
Finally, the referendum has cleared the air. Turkey will be ruled by the presidential system. This would initially mean uncertainty, as the country’s administrative system had to adapt to the necessary changes but after all, this is a transitionary period. There is still potential for the future. The envoy ponders whether it might be time to invite businesspeople for a meeting in Turkey. Elections are over in Europe so normalization must be on the way. Relations with the U.S. are tense, as Washington suspends issuing visas to Turkish citizens as a reaction against the detention of an American pastor and embassy of U.S. personnel. But the two countries share long decades of alliance relationship, so this crisis will surely be put behind. And that is what happens as the U.S. resumes issuing visas.
German tourists are coming back to Turkey, there are increasing signs of normalization with Berlin.
Could that be the right time to hold a meeting in Istanbul with the business community? Perhaps not, as there is talk about early elections.
Indeed, there will be early elections. Not exactly a good time to have a business meeting. Actually, it is much better to wait for elections, which will clear the fog in terms of who will be president for the next five years.
Elections are over, the outcome is not contested by the opposition. The state of emergency is lifted.
The ambassador has tried to organize a meeting for September, inviting potential investors. The envoy tries to alleviate security concerns by saying there has not been a major terror incident. He or she underlines the fact that the state of emergency has been lifted.
The selection of the president’s son-in-law as the treasury and finance minister was not an easy sell. But he or she convinces the interlocutors this might be a positive development, since the minister will have easy and direct access to the president.
Businesspeople worry about the worsening of the crisis between Ankara and Washington. He/she tells them Turkey is not the only U.S. ally Trump has thorny relations with.
Finally, a date is set for the meeting in September. But then, only a month prior to the meeting, the lira starts plunging, seemingly over the detention the U.S. pastor. There is talk about an economic meltdown.
The difficult lives of ambassadors
The job of Turkish envoys abroad has never been easy, especially at times when Turkey suffered from a democratic deficit and had problems in its international relations. Making a case for Turkey has proven to be a frustrating mission.
Now, foreign envoys in Turkey are living a similar experience. Turkey has been a difficult sell for foreign diplomats as well. Foreign envoys are generally criticized for becoming too identified with the host country. At the end of the day, their credibility is at stake.
Turkey has to provide ammunition to these envoys. For investors, from whichever corner of the world they are in, Turkey remains attractive as long as it is part of the Western alliance. Trump could be blamed for the U.S.-Turkey crisis. But the cold weather with the U.S. needs to be offset by a fast improvement in relations with the EU. Empty talk will not do the trick.
Releasing journalists like Enis Berberoğlu, or opinion leaders like Osman Kavala, who still does not know what he is accused of, will provide a very quick remedy at no cost.