December 2, 2009
Assoc. Prof. Serhat Güvenç
NEW FACES OF TURKISH FOREIGN POLICY: THINK TANKS
Since the mid-1990s, foreign policy has increasingly been subject to public debate in Turkey in line with the liberalization of domestic politics. The recent proliferation and diversification of think-tanks in the country stands both as a consequence of and a reaction to this development. Business community, media, ethnic groups and other actors of civil society now seek to influence foreign policy and challenge the monopoly of the civilian-military bureaucracy in the policy-making through think-tanks. In the process, think-tanks have become convenient tools for both rising and traditional actors of foreign policy making. The actors that seek to influence foreign policy have discovered the utility of think-tanks in enlisting public support to the policy choices they offer. In this seminar, it was first provided an account of evolution of Turkish think-tanks from historical perspective. Then it was addressed domestic and international conditions that facilitated think-tank involvement in foreign policy making in Turkey. Finally, the main features of Turkish think-tanks were discussed in comparative perspective to answer the question if it is possible to talk about a “Turkish model”. The seminar was concluded with an interim assessment of the performance of Turkish think-tanks across the political spectrum. To this end, it was attempted to answer the question if have acted more like “advocacy tanks” than “think-tanks by lending intellectual legitimacy to one or the other existing conviction or idea rather than thinking critically or originally.