The international conference titled “Digital Diplomacy: Trends & Features”, which is the multiplier event of the European Union Erasmus + Project “Digital Diplomacy: Building the Common Future with Technology” coded 2021-1-TR01-KA220-HED-000027609, in which Istanbul Ticaret University is one of the partners and led by Prof. Dr. Özgün Erler Bayır from Istanbul University, was held on 12 October 2023 at Sütlüce campus.
Other partners of the project are Romania (University of Bucharest), Estonia (University of Tartu), Italy (University of Sacred Heart Milan), Slovenia (University of Ljubljana).
According to Prof. Dr. Özgün Erler Bayır, Faculty of Political Sciences, Istanbul University, the main project manager of the DD-Tech consortium, “This semi-annual conference of the project provided an opportunity for our project partners and students to learn about academic discussions on the latest trends in digital diplomacy and to learn about developments in the literature, equipping them with useful knowledge on the topic. It also gave them the opportunity to engage directly with the international team of practitioners and academics involved in the program.”
Head of Istanbul Ticaret University Department of Political Science and International Relations and Project Coordinator Assoc. Prof. Dr. Uğur Yasin Asal gave information about the conference in the opening session.
Stating that there will be four main sessions and 20 presentations at the conference, Asal said, “There are students from universities that are our project partners who will follow us online. These programs were previously organized in Romania and Estonia. We are hosting them now. After that, the project activities will continue in Slovenia and Italy.”
Delivering the Keynote speech of the conference, Ambassador Mr. Murat Lütem, Director General of Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, said that technological developments and digitalization in recent years have reshaped industries, governments and other institutions. Noting that narratives about Turkey’s important role in political, economic and humanitarian affairs are effectively and appropriately disseminated using social media accounts, Mr. Lütem said:
“Our social media campaigns abroad are organized in Turkish or foreign languages in coordination with the Turkish Presidential Communications Directorate. In this way, we show the importance of Turkey’s role to the whole world. Some countries, especially in the West, are adapting their foreign ministries to the digital age. Turkey is one of these countries and our Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the pioneers of digital diplomacy.”
Lütem emphasized that in a world where the average attention span is getting shorter every day, such content has the opportunity to reach wider audiences, especially through social media.
Stating that visual content created for various interactive activities such as summits, contacts, national day messages, press releases, meetings, etc. are circulated through social media, Lütem said: “These contents created by non-traditional actors of diplomacy such as graphic designers and visual directors contribute to the new world of diplomacy. However, using the new digital media processes and platforms is just one of the ways in which our Ministry continues to adapt to an ever-changing world.”
“IT IS NOW POSSIBLE TO ATTRACT THE ATTENTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY THROUGH SOCIAL NETWORKS”
Prof. Dr. Abdulhamit Avşar, Rector of Istanbul Ticaret University, emphasized that diplomacy has always had a central place in international relations, from maintaining peace to ending wars, and noted that developments in technology in the digital age have started a period in which the phenomenon of communication is directly affected and directed.
Prof. Dr. Avşar reminded that in the new era, information production has accelerated, the ground for local thoughts to find a place in the international arena has become easier, and the messages that affect public opinion have gained speed by multiplying. Stating that it has now become possible to attract the attention of the international community through social networks, Prof. Dr. Avşar said, “In addition to accurate information, inaccurate, propaganda, speculative information has started to gain the power to spread at the same speed and to influence target audiences.” Prof. Dr. Avşar said the following:
“Diplomacy is one of the fields that will be most affected by this outlook of the digital age. Therefore, I hope that the conference will reach useful results and open new horizons to the concept of digital diplomacy. I am also pleased that our university is host to the conference where such an important issue will be discussed.”
The conference was successfully completed with the sessions held after the opening speeches. For more information about the project and the conference, please visit the project website at https://www.digitaldiplomat.eu