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What’s with the Foreign Ministry?

The state organizational structure being seriously changed, the law regulating the organization of the Foreign Ministry aiming at developing ‘multi-faceted, multi-directional and objective’ policies has also been repealed. What will be next for the foreign affairs? The former experienced diplomats interpret the development for Hala Gazeteciyiz.net.

Hilal Köylü

Its organizational law being repealed, the traditional merit based promotion-appointment system of the Foreign Ministry known to be the most stable institution of the state since the first days of the republic has been throughly changed.

Many who had held most critical offices at the Foreign Ministry warn that “it is a greatly wrong move for Turkey. It is not possible anymore for the Ministry to develop right and realistic policies” and call the President Erdoğan not to intervene with the Foreign Ministry.


“Democratic Party had been in power for ten years. Even the Democratic Party had not intervened with the structure of the Foreign Ministry. Because Türkish diplomacy has always been an example in the world for its patriotic, well acknowledged, reputable and high quality personnel. Regardless of any turmoil Turkey had been facing through the years Foreign Ministry has been the only institution that kept being stable and produce foreign policy. But now you are interveneing. This is a great wrong made for Turkey. It is a shame.”

Hikmet Çetin

Those words belong to, the world renown economist, diplomat, politician and statesman, Hikmet Çetin who had also held the office of Foreign Minister between 2011 and 2014. Çetin also held the office of NATO Senior Civilian Representitive in Afghanistan and this mission proved to be one of Turkey’s diplomatic successes. Çetin, who has a great knowledge of the Foreign Ministry and believes each and every personnel from top to bottom level is indispensable for Turkish foreign policy, regards the repeal of the Ministry’s organic law as “the destruction of a traditon of the republic… a damage to Turkey.” So what is behind the change?


With a presidential decree, new standard regulations have been enacted for high level government officials. And the repealment of the Foreign Ministry’s special organisational law means that it is not exempt from the changes.

With the new system it is possible to appoint officials to public offices from outside the concerned institutions. So this practice will also cover the Foreign Ministry. In this way the offices regarding the diplomats at the capital will be open for  those outside the ministry.

Currently there is no requirement for a mission officer as embassador to come from career employment within the ministry. This practice, having been scarecely implemented in the past had become common during the JDP’s reign. Today there are twelve embassadors who had been appointed without having been coming from career employment. Murat Mercan, who is also a founding member of th JDP is serving in Tokyo and Merve Kavakçıoğlu in Malaysia. Eventhough there are such practices, the central organization of the Foreign Ministry, Ankara headquarters has always been exempt from it due to the ministry’s special law. So far, without exeption, diplomats who follows a career within the ministry and competent at traditional foreign policies have been appointed to the posts such as undersecretary, deputy undersecretary, director general and department heads.

However, with the presidential decree this practice is now history. In addition to the repealment of the posts of undersecratary and deputy undersecretary, anybody who has a five year public or private sector service is now eligable for being appointed to the posts of directorate general, deputy directorate general and department head at the Foreign Ministry. For instance, someone who has served at the State Water Supply Administration or in tourism sector will be eligable for being appointed to a critical position at the ministry.


Hikmet Çetin sees these developments as the “politiscization of the foreign affairs and turning the Foreign Ministry’s standards upside-down and adds: “Merit has been indispensible for the Foreign Ministry. Profession of diplomacy can not be handled by public regulations.” Çetin, arguing that President Erdoğan should reconsider the presidential decree, warns that “a great wrong is being done to Turkey. It is a big shame. Look at what you are doing.”


Aydın Adnan Sezgin

Aydın Sezgin is a retired embassador. Now he is in polimistake tics within the ranks of the GP (İYİ Party). He qualifies the repealment of the Foreign Ministry’s organizational law as “a greatly miserable situation.” Sezgin further argues: “If still there is a state organ that operates for the public interests I am saying this to safeguard it: Merit is a tradition of the republic and when it comes to foreign affairs it represents Turkey’s reputation and soundness.” He also adds that it is a common practice in the world to appoint embassadors from outside the foreign ministries, however he also points out that the central organizations remains intact. Sezgin warns: “Interveneing with the central organization of the ministry is a grave mistake. It is the destruction of the institution’s memory and eradication of all what is accumulated.” He also calls for the reconsideration of the regulation regarding the Foreign Ministry.


Öztürk Yılmaz

Another figure who had left a career at the top foreign affairs office for a political one is Öztürk Yılmaz of the RPP. Yılmaz thinks that, with the repealment of the offices of undersecratary and deputy undersecratary, the institutional structure of the Foreign Ministry has been ‘drastically weakened.’ He says that “since the system is dependent on only one person the ministry will no longer be able to develop right and realistic policies. The pressures targeted at the ministry will get even stronger.” Yılmaz points out that, with the out-of-the ministry appointments and the promotions, the ‘ethos of diplomacy’ would be swept away and warns: “The new policies will be a big trouble for Turkey in the international arena. It is not meaningful to expect right foreign policies from people who are not experts. Yılmaz says that RPP will be monitoring each and every appointment and promotion at the ministry and adds: “We will be pointing out the wrongs and mistakes for the sake of the state. Insistence on a mistake would harm Turkey. Everyone should understand this fact.”

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