Building soft power is one of the most important challenges facing countries during the twenty-first century. Therefore, many countries have worked to benefit from the results of scientific studies for strategic planning, to increase their soft power, to play a role in their regional environment, and to increase their influence at the global level.
Planning to build soft power includes employing history, culture, media, and many activities in various fields, such as sports, arts, humanitarian relief, scientific and student exchange, knowledge exchange, participation in conferences, and building a mental image.
This new image of Turkey contributed to increasing its soft power in the Islamic world, and the Justice and Development Party government worked to achieve this strategic goal, and succeeded in increasing the sympathy of Islamic societies with Turkey, and the Islamic peoples aspired to the Justice and Development Party model.
The Turkish model.. why?
The study of the Turkish model in building soft power opens a new field for strategic planning to develop the soft power of the state and the policies associated with it, in addition to many sciences, the most important of which is the science of public diplomacy.
A study presented by researchers Muharrem Aksel and Mehmet Seifeddin Ayrol showed that Turkey began its policy of building soft power after the Justice and Development Party took power.
The researchers interpreted this trend as a result of the party’s vision of its identity, and its leaders’ awareness of the importance of soft power and public diplomacy;
The party's cadres set out from their Islamic roots and culture to build a vision that Turkey can play a leading role in the Islamic world.
To play this role, party leaders set out to build Turkish soft power and use public diplomacy to build the image of a new Turkey that is based on a conservative Muslim democracy.
This new image of Turkey contributed to increasing its soft power in the Islamic world, and the Justice and Development Party government worked to achieve this strategic goal, and succeeded in increasing the sympathy of Muslim societies with Turkey.
Islamic peoples looked forward to the model of the Justice and Development Party, and the possibility of applying its experience in governance.
Therefore, Turkey's soft power and its use of public diplomacy to win over Muslims' hearts and sympathy is related to the AKP's experience.
The researchers, Aksel and Erol, believe that Turkey's influence and role has increased in the Middle East, as the leaders of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) viewed this region as the regional environment, and this region is undergoing a historical transformation.
Turkey cannot remain far from the developments in the region. Therefore, Turkey has worked to develop its relations with the peoples of the region using public diplomacy. This use relied on awareness of identity and cultural and Islamic ties to obtain the sympathy of the Islamic peoples with Turkey.
Turkey's public diplomacy policies managed to build Turkey's image in the minds of Muslim peoples as the "model country".
The most important features of the new image were that it is a Muslim, democratic and economically advanced state.
The Arab Spring also played an important role in increasing people's awareness of Turkey as a model country whose experience could inspire people to achieve progress and democracy.
An example of the use of public diplomacy
The two researchers believe that the Justice and Development Party government succeeded in presenting Turkey as a model for using public diplomacy in building relations with peoples. Its foreign policy was built on new concepts, the most important of which is that it is a central and leading country in the Middle East, and this has led to an increase in Turkey's influence on the global level and in the international system, in which it has become an important position as a central state due to its geographical location and its cultural and historical status.
This means that building soft power at the regional level opens the way for increasing the state's position and influence at the global level.
This increases the importance of studying the Turkish experience as an introduction to the development of the science of public diplomacy.
When the state becomes a leading role in the surrounding region, its global status and soft power increases at the international level;
This shows that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is planning to build soft power from a scientific study of the regional and global reality, as the countries of the world are forced to deal with the importance of the regional role it plays, as the relationship with it opens possibilities for building relations with other countries in the region.
multidimensional foreign policy
The study of the Turkish experience also opens the way for the development of strategic planning for building a multidimensional foreign policy, which does not focus on building bilateral relations with a particular country;
Turkey has managed to become an international actor, with which the relationship opens up areas for developing relations with other countries, and this is what many countries of the world have realized.
This contributed to Turkey's increased ability to host international conferences, and its ability to have its voice heard in global policy-making platforms.
Thus, the Justice and Development Party was able to increase Turkey's global standing and develop its role in international politics, and this contributed to increasing its trade relations with the countries of the world.
This shows the importance of linking relations at the regional and international levels, and that the greater the status and soft power of the state in its regional environment, the more this will lead to an increase in its global power, and its transformation into an actor in international politics.
The two researchers say that the Justice and Development Party has succeeded in building modern institutions that work to build Turkey's soft power, and carry out public diplomacy activities in a modern institutional manner.
Harmony between Islam and democracy
The Justice and Development Party has also succeeded in achieving harmony between Islam and democracy, and presenting an experience to the Islamic world that can become a valid model for application in Islamic countries, and it was clear that the Arab Spring countries - such as Egypt and Tunisia - looked forward to this model, and dealt with it with appreciation and respect.
The Justice and Development Party presented itself to the world as a model for a party with an Islamic identity that was able to build a democratic experience and achieve economic progress for it.
This shows what an Islamic party can do in light of a democratic experience, and this has led to building a positive image of Turkey in the Islamic world, and in many countries of the world.
Winning minds and hearts
The study of the Turkish experience - as the researchers Aksel and Erol explained some of its features - proves that the Justice and Development Party was able to win hearts and minds in the Islamic world, and this means increasing Turkish soft power by using public diplomacy.
Thus, the AKP leaders' awareness of the importance of public diplomacy in the twenty-first century was one of the most important factors that contributed to building Turkey's soft power at the regional and global levels.
Therefore, the Turkish government established an office for public diplomacy under the Presidency of the Republic, and established a number of institutions affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These institutions contributed to the strategic planning of Turkey’s policies and carried out activities aimed at building Turkey’s soft power. The Ministry of Culture and educational institutions also contributed to carrying out communication and media activities with the aim of Influencing public opinion at the global level, telling the story of the new Turkey to the peoples of the world, and introducing it to Turkish culture, arts and language.
This is an important experience that deserves study because it can contribute to developing our ability to build soft power in the twenty-first century, and to develop public diplomacy as a basis for building long-term relations between peoples.Keywords: