Turkey’s “street name” diplomacy
Since it came to power in 2002 Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governments have generously contributed to Turkish diplomacy by inventing a flurry of methods and tactics no other nation could have thought of.
At the turn of the Arab Spring we saw “so-fast-from-brother-Assad-to-villain-Assad” diplomacy. The “recall-resend-recall-your-ambassador” diplomacy has been a shrewd method to punish adversaries although it heavily added to the Foreign Ministry’s logistical budget.
A decade ago “football” diplomacy would normalise Turkey’s diplomatic relations with neighbouring Armenia. It did not. But never mind. It was a nice shot.
“Zig-zag” and “re-zig-zag” diplomacy has made Turkey’s opponents dizzy when they tried in vain to understand where Turkey really belonged. In fact, it was merely a tactic to cause confusion as Turkey did not belong anywhere.
All the same, the most successful Turkish invention was probably countless aspects of its “a-Rover-with-Rolls-Royce-ambitions” diplomacy. It is still one of the pillars of Turkish diplomacy.
The “street-name” diplomacy is not new. Amid diplomatic tensions with France several years ago then mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, proposed to rename Paris Street (where the French embassy is located) “Algiers Street” to remind drivers and passers by of the French atrocities against Algerians during Algeria’s war of independence.
More recently, the Ankara city council changed the name of the street where the embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located to Fakhreddin Pasha, the historical figure at the centre of a diplomatic row in which UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan retweeted accusations that Ottoman forces led by Fakhreddin Pasha stole money and manuscripts from Medina in 1916 during World War One when the city was under Ottoman rule.
Newswires reported on February 12th that the Ankara city council would now propose to change the name of the street where the U.S. embassy is located to “Olive Branch” in reference to the code name of the Turkish military incursion into neighbouring Syria.
Since this strategy has worked successfully in efforts to “make Turkey imperial again” here are a few suggestions from this columnist:
- Change the name of the street where the Saudi embassy is located to Tehran Street. Simultaneously change the name of the street where Iranian embassy is located to Wahhabi Street.
- Change the name of the street where the Israeli embassy is located to Hamas Street. The actual Palestine Street can be renamed Palestine Al-Quds Street.
- Change the name of the street where the Chinese embassy is located to East Turkestan Street.
- Change the name of the street where the Syrian embassy is located to Free Syrian Army Street.
- Change the name of the street where the Dutch embassy is located to Heroine Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya Street.
The Greek Cypriots and Armenians are lucky not to have a diplomatic representation in Ankara. So are Egypt, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Austria as their embassies are located on Ataturk Boulevard.