In a special lecture arranged at the Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, Alper Y. Dede (Turkish PhD scholar) explained the political evolution of Turkey, the foreign policy of Turkey in the context of Arab Spring and the role of media in purporting the transitions of the Arab World. The lecture was delivered in the Hameed Nizami Conference room of the Institute and was hosted by the Director of the Institute of Communication Studies (ICS), Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz.
Before starting off with the topic Alper admired the hospitality of the Pakistani people. He especially mentioned his predilection for the Pakistani food. He appreciated the Director of ICS, Prof. Dr. Ahan Akhtar Naz for arranging an important lecture keeping in view the contemporary ‘global politics’. Alper Y. Dede is an International Relations expert and his area of interest includes; state and society relations, Turkey-Egypt ties, Turkish foreign policy and comparative politics. Alper distinctly explained Turkish policies, Arab Spring and the role of media, later on he connected the distinct parts that aided the students to understand and learn. While elucidating the evolution of Turkish politics, Alper told the students that Turkey used to be a ‘Statist’ country (a term used in political science for countries where social and economic policy is controlled by the government to some extent). He said that the domestic problems such as education, social services remained unresolved till the 1980’s. According to Alper, the government at that time introduced economic liberalisation and a new class of businessmen (conservative and liberal) precipitated out in Turkey. In a geographical context, he stated that 30 % of Turkey’s land lies in the European continent and the rest in Asian continent. Istanbul, lies in the European portion and it is the hub of Asian Tigers (Anatolian Tigers) who represent the conservative class of businessmen. The economic progress of Asian Tigers helped them to establish their own institutions and media outlets, which made them powerful in domestic politics. However, Turkey’s ruling party (Justice and Development Party) drifted away from the conservative Virtue Party and gained popularity over a short period of time. Alper linked the dramatic change in Turkey with the election of 2002, during which Justice and Development Party took a sweeping victory.
His viewpoint about the Arab Spring endorsed the pivotal role of national, international and social media while covering the protests in the Arab World. “Assumption before Arab Spring was that political transition would be gradual, but the street protests starting from Mohmmad Bouzizi’s appalled the entire world,” said Alper. Y. Dede. He connected the variance in transitions of different parts of the world in terms of the media coverage. The Turkish Scholar believed that Syria and Libya banned reporting of events as the protests started. On the other hand, Tunisia and Egypt allowed it. Talking about the Turkish media, he opined that like many others media voices of Turkey were both hesitant and unprepared for the coverage of the Arab protests. The media reflected a mixed perception of optimism and pessimism. Alper told the students that Turkish foreign policy had been influenced by how the media presented the unfolding of events and much to his dismay the Turkish foreign policy in Syria had been unsuccessful. He was disappointed while telling the students that Syria is at the mercy of global powers like Russia, China, France, UK and the U.S (being the elephant in the room). However, Alper suggested that Tukrey could’ve adopted a better diplomatic course by serving as a mediator because foreign support existed for Syria (Russia and Iran). Alper predicted that Bashar al Assad is likely to stay in Syria for the next few months, at least!
The students keenly listened to his lecture, thanked him for imparting his knowledge and raised questions. The Director of the Institute of Communication Studies, Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz, in his final note, briefly discussed the history of Pak-Turkey ties in three phases. The Director told the students that Turkey and Pakistan had a historical relation starting from before the partition, during the Khilafat movement. The second phase was during the rule of General Ayub Khan when a Regional Cooperation for Development was established between Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. The Director said that in his view the third phase revolves around the recent strengthening of economic cooperation between the ideologically bonded states. However, he suggested that Turkey should be more considerate while dealing with the Muslim countries, it can play a significant role through platforms like O.I.C (Organization of Islamic Conference). The Director admired the effective negotiations of Turkey to ensure the recent ceasefire between Israel and the Palestine. He expressed his gratitude towards Alper Y. Dede for enhancing the knowledge of the students and contributing towards the aim of maintaining friendly relations between Turkey and Pakistan, through such lectures.