Foreign Policy

A brief interview I gave to Diplomatic Courier as a chosen Top 99 under 33 Foreign Policy Leader:

Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past positions.

Through talks, writings and diplcourierconsulting on topics such as innovation, (social) entrepreneurship, and strategy, I hope I have provided tools to tackle and reconceptualize global societal problems towards value-based (foreign) policies. Most recently, I have co-edited a book in German called 7 Virtues Reloaded. Members of the Think Tank 30 of the Club of Rome have applied wisdom, moderation, courage, justice, hope, faith, and love to current societal topics such as the educational system, data abuse, energy sustainability, or social and cultural struggles of meaning. We reflect on the present to change the world of tomorrow with virtues from the past.

What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?

Transferring knowledge and creating linkages across borders and boundaries. I have co-founded the social incubator Zahnräder Network based on my research on academic entrepreneurship in the UK, and then applied it to the German Muslim context. Zahnräder encourages and enables social entrepreneurship, has been supported, for example, by the British Council, Youth for Europe, and Ashoka Changemakers, and won the Social Entrepreneurship Academy Public Choice Award in 2012.

What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?

I think our understanding of both terms–“foreign” and “policy” will change due to much more fluid boundaries, which are leading to a complex web of engaged stakeholders. Foreign policy in the 21st century must be value-driven, concentrating on solving societal problems rather than focusing on narrow national interests.

What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy? What leadership traits are needed for this?

Two challenges–and magnificent opportunities at the same time–are the incorporation of diverse actors and the employment of new technologies to facilitate manifold cross-border engagement. As geographical and policy borders become blurred, FP leaders need more diverse professional backgrounds to succeed in their complex and diverse new roles.

My reaction on the Saïd Business School website: “I feel very honoured to have been selected and hope that my research and work contributes to sustainable social change. Oxford, and Saïd Business School in particular provide a magnificent ecosystem in which to generate ideas that shape society.”

Turkey in the world – between continuity & change

Just returned from a talk by the current Turkish Ambassador to the UK. The event was under Chatham House Rules, hence I will not be able to report from it. But I will use this and previous events in the last couple of weeks as an anchor for some reflections on Turkish Foreign Policy.

// A rising power…

Last week Davutoglu, Babacan, Boris Johnson and Jack Straw gave some interesting speeches at a dinner in London. The overall tone was clear: Turkey is a rising regional if not global power. It is the 16th biggest economy in the world with phenomenal stable growth figures currently approximately at around 8% per annum. Erdogan is a leader empowered with all three Weberian forms of authority, namely traditional, rational-legal and charismatic. And Davutoglu is a professor who can and successfully puts into practice his academic foreign policy theory.

// …in the making

Now, not everything is rosy. Turkey still faces various internal struggles and has not zero problems with all its neighbours. It needs the growth to employ its phenomenally young labour force. And it is still in a process of finding its own identity with regard to its own history internally and vis-à-vis its neighbours externally.

// …in the middle

Yet, with a political and economic crisis in Europe, an uprising in the MENA region and a strengthening of the East, Turkey has a unique role. It is not only geographically but also in many ways culturally at the crossroads, right in the middle – and that so from the very beginning, whether that is through its Hellenistic, Roman-Byzantine, Seljukian or Ottoman heritage, to name a few. In a time where extremes merge, one might want to look to Turkey to perceive an experiment of a global melting pot – not through migration, but through its position in time and place.

// Whither to go

At the event last week, Jack Straw said that Turkey is now recognized as equal, which ipso facto implies it was not before. Europe’s policies are or at least should take this into considerations. Turkey may end up at the wrong side of the balance sheet and become a liability to an increasingly introverted Europe, rather than an asset. Meanwhile Turkey’s diaspora builds various cultural, social and economic institutions around the world. Turkey’s new ministry reaches out to them at events like the one just a couple of weeks ago in Berlin celebrating 50 years since the beginning of the guestworker agreement. And next weekend a global entrepreneurship summit takes place in Istanbul, as a follow-up to the one intitiated by Obama.

Turkey’s role is changing. And this is not only due to its current politico-economic strength but rather a simple stock market like calculation. A company thereby is valued as the sum of its discounted future cash flow. A rising Turkey will become more influential in the future and by that very fact becomes increasingly influential in the present. And this is enacted in practice. Fascinating.

This post was also published by “Politics in Spires” here.