The Turkish Industry and Business Association’s (TÜSİAD) advertisement titled “Defending the Democratic Constitutional Order in Turkey” published in significant media organs in three languages inspired the business world. Several advertisements are appearing one after the other in foreign media.
Sabancı Holding was next. Sabancı shared its “Our trust in the future of Turkey has been reaffirmed by our people’s commitment to democracy” message in dailies The Financial Times, The International New York Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Sabancı CEO Zafer Kurtul said they believed in Turkey and wanted to share this with the international public.
Similarly, TAV Airports, which has a French partner and which has undertaken several international projects in many regions, in an advertisement in the Financial Times highlighted its belief in democracy and economic stability in Turkey.
Then, one of the leading names in the real estate sector, NEF, made an advertisement saying, “Everyone protects their own homes” in prestigious dailies such as The New York Times, USA Today and The Financial Times.
NEF Executive Committee head Erden Timur said, “It was our duty to correctly convey to the international platform the story that people died for.”
How much will this effort by the private sector and nongovernmental organizations affect the perception prevailing in international public after the attempted coup? Unfortunately, my concerns that the effect will be limited are high.
The reason is that there are plenty of strongly negative messages in the world press that would immediately remove these efforts.
For example, on almost the same day when the advertisements of the private sector appeared in Western papers, French news agency AFP distributed the photo-story of the Istanbul municipality’s “Traitors’ Cemetery.” Although Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş later removed the sign, nevertheless AFP’s story was circulating.
It is indeed not comprehensible that Topbaş did not calculate what kind of reaction domestically and internationally taking that step would cause. Do you think the foreign media would miss the image of a beaten up French tourist who was attacked on the weekend in Ankara’s Kızılay square during the democracy rallies because he was not holding a Turkish flag, the poor tourist who does not even understand what happened?
Or the cheer of “reinstate the death penalty” at the democracy rally of Turks in Cologne?
These examples are a major blow to the steps taken to inform the international community after the coup attempt, to correct the negative image and negative perceptions that have emerged. Especially at a time when tourism has shrunk 40 percent compared to the year before. We are talking about a term when leading names in tourism are calling on the Culture and Tourism Ministry for a “promotional leap.”
At such a critical time, the responsibility of maintaining Turkey’s image is very much on the shoulders of politicians.