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State diplomacy and civilian diplomacy

Since the end of world wars, there are new ways of generating policies, both in internal and foreign politics. The trend was enhanced through the construction of the European Union and accelerated with the end of the Cold War and the onset of globalization.

19th century-style politics restraining the making of policy to national politicians has long since been transferred to experts and technicians. And now non-official actors need to be counted as new policy makers.

The EU’s founding father Jean Monnet in his Washington address on April 30, 1952, about the formation of a new union in Europe opens an extraordinary perspective when he utters "we are not setting up an alliance of states, we are bringing people together." Through the aphorism he signals that the new union will be people-oriented not state-oriented. Monnet reveals the beginning of a new era where societies will have a say next to selfish, belligerent states who disregard people.

Today, we have a variety of layers for carrying out domestic politics, through local and regional structures, and abroad by going beyond nation-states.

In this context, in addition to traditional diplomacy there is plenty of civilian multilateral, brisk and courageous diplomatic activity that is most of the time ahead of state diplomacy. Culture diplomacy, city diplomacy, environment diplomacy, transnational networks of non-governmental expert institutions, transnational expert institutions involved in conflict resolution are first come to mind.

International and intergovernmental organizations are trying to catch up with the pace of this new process of doing foreign diplomacy. The effects of these policies over state policies are directly related to the degree of institutionalization of democratic traditions in the countries.

Turkey is at the very beginning of this mutual interaction process. Participating in politics is still the exclusive sphere of the elected as well as the appointed (military) both in domestic and foreign matters. Outside the classical sphere of politics no initiative has any bearing or value. But designing policies and implementing them is no longer controlled exclusively by state as a result of the EU accession bid and widespread globalization.

EU not only about foreign politics

Thus, policymaking is somewhat fragmented. To say that the state and politicians are tuned into these novelties is difficult. On the contrary, state bureaucracy and politicians seem catching up to civilian initiatives. We are surprised every day by laws and regulations that were not shaped here, yet being implemented here as a result of EU harmonization works. (For this very reason, the EU is not only about foreign politics).

The making of these laws and regulations doesn’t depend on imperialist states as it is thought to do. The decisions are made as a result of multi-actor, multi-layer, continuous dialogue and negotiation processes. The very same external dynamics invite Turkey to pay attention to the policies produced by institutions and initiatives outside the governments and states. Turkey’s candidacy to the EU sped up the involvement of non-state and non-governmental actors. Civil society in Turkey has prepared remarkable initiatives on policies of memory, culture and environment, well beyond that of the state and government. Studies and awareness campaigns for the plight of non-Muslim as well as Muslim minorities, world-class cultural, art and literature actions to promote Turkey and protests that were held for the conservation of natureÉ

Those who expect every single step to come from the state or rely totally on the state for every single public policy in order to solve problems with neighboring countries and among citizens, will have been disappointed, at least for now, in the issue of re-opening the border with Armenia, among several other failed conflict resolution attempts by the state.

Among these state-loving circles there are groups who even term themselves "civil society organizations." Civilian initiatives continue despite all odds. Perhaps they are not enough to re-open borders but they do better: they open borders drawn in our minds.
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