Director of Communications Altun speaks at the International Strategic Communications Summit

Director of Communications Altun speaks at the International Strategic Communications Summit

Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun said, "Today, we must jointly combat the threats posed by new media technologies, which range from human rights to national security, from digital bullying to hate speech, from terrorist propaganda to systematic disinformation campaigns, and from perception dictatorship to digital fascism."

In his speech at the International Strategic Communications Summit (Stratcom Summit) at the TİM Show Centre, Presidency's Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun reiterated that the first summit was held last year.

Highlighting that their goal was to create a global interaction centre in the field of public communication and strategic communication, Director of Communications Altun said, "Thankfully, the Stratcom Summit has received a great deal of attention and praise. Our summit continued its activities throughout the year with events and publications in different formats at home and abroad, grew organically and provided a unique experience for the strategic communication ecosystem, creating a strong platform. On this platform, we brought together strategic communication stakeholders from the public sector, media, academia, civil society and private sector under the same roof."

Emphasising that they are gathered with respected communicators from all over the country and the world under the roof of that unique platform, Director of Communications Altun continued as follows: "We see that the Stratcom Summit has become an international platform where global topics and trends that shape strategic communication are discussed, bringing together representatives from many countries and sectors. We are excited, happy and proud. I wish the Summit great success in advance. This year, we are hosting over 50 panellists with approximately 4,000 participants from 5 continents and 40 countries at our summit. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all our guests who will contribute to our summit with their experience, knowledge and participation. The theme of this year's Stratcom Summit is 'Strategic Communication in the Age of Uncertainty' because wherever we look in this age, we are going through, from global politics to the economy, from health to the environment, the main reality we see is uncertainty. Today, the whole world faces many challenges, such as conflicts, wars, humanitarian tragedies, terrorism, nuclear threats or food, energy, raw materials, and financial and health crises. In response to these challenges, no systematic, planned, or practical solution proposals have been developed on a global scale. Furthermore, the competition for power, which is becoming fiercer in the global arena and losing its moral basis day by day, exacerbates the threats and challenges that humanity faces, and all societies, from the West to the East and the South to the North are thrown into a spiral of uncertainty."

Director of Communications Altun stated that as of today, no part of the world is actually free from wars, conflicts, terrorist attacks, crises and pandemics that are "supposed to occur only in certain regions."

Expressing that the West had created a world system that placed it in a superior, privileged, and sterile position, Director of Communications Altun said, "From economic theories to modernisation approaches, it was assumed that Western-centered paradigms would transform non-Western societies. Indeed, this viewpoint was reflected in the 'end of history' thesis advanced by Francis Fukuyama in 1992, following the end of the Cold War. Fukuyama declared Western-centered liberal capitalism's final and eternal victory. For him, there would be no more wars, conflicts, or crises. In a global order dominated by liberal capitalism and with the West at its centre, the entire world would live in stability. However, we have seen together that this is not the case."

Director of Communications Altun went on to say:

"From the 9/11 attacks to the Bosnian Genocide, the Gulf War to the Arab Spring, there have been numerous crises that continue to have regional and global consequences. Waves of instability manifested differently in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Palestine. Aside from this, from Europe to Asia and Africa to the Balkans, new and complex crises have emerged in a variety of fields, including politics, economy, environment, health, and energy. As you see, the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine since February 2022 has not only resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives, but it has also exacerbated global instability with the uncertainty it caused in a variety of fields, including food and energy. At the same time, the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the supply chain remain. Increasing natural disasters and humanitarian crises resulting from climate change continue to endanger life on Earth. Thus today, the global political and economic system based on a Western-centric perspective is plagued by structural issues, crises, deadlocks, and uncertainties."

"Global Issue: The Crisis of the Truth"

Director of Communications Altun underlined that, in addition to all of these uncertainties, another global issue of this period is the crisis of the truth.

Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun said that, in this period called "Post-Truth", the "death of truth" has been declared, so to speak, and continued his remarks as follows:

"Just as the fundamental issue of social theory was the struggle between social classes in the 19th century and the issue of modernisation in the 20th century, today it is the crisis of truth which currently threatens societal unity and integrity, and cultural identity and belonging. Clearly, radical changes and advancements in communication technologies have boosted the potential for information generation and made significant contributions to the culture of democracy in this aspect. During this period, humanity has unquestionably huge opportunities to access news and information. In fact, the Internet and social media have enabled the timeless and limitless dissemination of all kinds of information. During this process, the new and institutionalised communication industries have created a tremendous economy in the global arena. However, new communication technologies provide a venue for disinformation, smear campaigns, influence operations, hate speech, terrorist propaganda, and cyberbullying. Thus threatening individual lives, public order, and social peace. Moreover, in modern media contexts, individuals and even entire masses live in echo chambers, where they solely hear their own voices and the voices of people who are similar to them. In contrast to the optimistic belief that social media will bring people closer, ghettoisation, polarisation, and radicalisation rise in virtual settings when people are all ears to one fraction and deaf to the rest and these negative processes are reflected in everyday reality."

Director of Communications Altun stated that new technologies that aggravate social polarisation, ghettoisation, and radicalisation are also misused and added that this not only threatens the security of individuals, societies, and nations but also evolves into a global security issue.

"Systematic disinformation also threatens global peace" 

Director of Communications Altun emphasised that particularly systematic disinformation activities that are constantly reproduced through new media and traditional media threaten global peace and stability and continued as follows:

"At this point, we need to think about how we can resist this process at all costs. I would like to quote a remark by the late philosopher Teoman Duralı, one of the most influential figures in contemporary Turkish thought. Mr Duralı says, 'The dominant civilisation is currently engaged in an extraordinary global propaganda war. Under this bombardment of propaganda, people are led to believe that there is no alternative to the life that is imposed on them.' This imposed perspective mentioned by Teoman Duralı is, in fact, a form of bullying. It is an attack on human freedom, human existence and the freedom of choice. Obviously, such an imposition is maintained by the constant bombardment of disinformation. We require a shield, an anchor of truth, to withstand this bombardment. To quote Mr Duralı once more, there is an apparent reality and a whole that extends beyond it. We must seek to obtain beyond the apparent and the whole that surrounds it."

Emphasis on cooperation against the crisis of truth

Saying, "Today, we must jointly combat the threats posed by new media technologies, which range from human rights to national security, from digital bullying to hate speech, from terrorist propaganda to systematic disinformation campaigns, and from perception dictatorship to digital fascism," Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun reported that the "crisis of truth" is being exacerbated by global uncertainty, conflict, and instability highlights the importance of institutionalising and cooperating on strategic communication at the national and international levels.

Director of Communications Altun added:

"Of course, these collaborations will contribute to developing new solutions, democratising methods, and methods to combat the threats and challenges we face in the digital world. At this point, I believe that our primary responsibility as communicators, wherever we are in the world, is to combat the crisis of truth. Its purpose is to defend the truth. It is to explain the importance of being truthful. The growing truth crisis has increased the demand for trustworthy information more than ever. This is the primary reason why communication has emerged as a fundamental and separate policy area today."

Stating that communication is now a separate ecosystem just like education, health, security, agriculture, infrastructure, transportation, diplomacy, and the economy in the post-truth era, where lies and disinformation precede the truth, Director of Communications Altun noted:

"Strategic communication, which plays a critical role in the communication ecosystem, is critical for having tools that highlight stabilising and constructive efforts in the face of global uncertainties. We, as the Directorate of Communications, have been working since our inception to develop and institutionalise a strategic communication culture in our country. In the international arena, we strive to increase international cooperation in this field by using strategic communication as a tool for managing crises and uncertainties. We see the Stratcom Summit platform as one of the international manifestations of all of our efforts. In this age of uncertainty, states, governments, and leaders carry out positive communication campaigns on global and local scales, such as strategic communication, nation branding, and public diplomacy; they also have to contend with challenges such as disinformation, black propaganda, cyber wars, and hybrid threats. In the face of these uncertainties and challenges, it is critical that experts in diplomacy, defence, security, communication, intelligence, and technology work together. The need for a global strategic communication approach that focuses on human dignity, rights, justice, and the truth is becoming increasingly apparent from the local to the global scale and at the micro and macro levels. The best answer for us, that is, the policymakers in public communication and strategic communication, will undoubtedly be to make no concessions from the perspective of truth-oriented communication."

"Under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Türkiye strives to become a stabilising power"

Drawing attention to Türkiye's sphere of influence, Director of Communications Altun stated:

"Under the leadership of our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Türkiye strives to become a stabilising power in an era of global uncertainty. Türkiye, as a regional power and global player, aims to be a stable country while also demonstrating active foreign policy performance as a power that stabilises its environment. The most recent example is our President's peace diplomacy during the Russia-Ukraine war. The grain corridor agreement reached through our mediation efforts during the Russia-Ukraine war was a critical step toward resolving the global food crisis. Türkiye, which does not hesitate to take the initiative in resolving international issues, has emerged as a key country for global peace and stability as a result of its principled foreign policy and the confidence provided by our President's leader diplomacy."

Türkiye’s Communication Model

Drawing attention to communication models, Director of Communications Altun added:

"Türkiye Models, which we have developed in numerous fields, including diplomacy, the defence industry, humanitarian aid, and health, are currently on the international agenda. We are working diligently to bring the 'Türkiye's Communication Model' to this chain. With the motto 'A Fairer World is Possible', we strive to continue the struggle for truth waged by Türkiye in the dimension of communication. Türkiye's Communication Model has been built on strategic communication based on strengthening the nation brand, public diplomacy that stands out in the world, close relations with national and international media outlets, discourse unity and coordination between institutions, fast and effective crisis management, active state-people communication, a multidimensional and strong infrastructure, especially in combatting disinformation.

Moreover, we have developed a significant capacity in terms of verification and OSINT activities carried out by our experts, who are highly qualified in their fields. In this context, we have expanded the scope of our activities to combat disinformation with a new centre we have recently established. Our Centre for Combating Disinformation continues its activities as a quick verification and effective information tool against systematic disinformation campaigns directed at our country, institutions and citizens. Of course, we are ready to share our Türkiye's Communication Model, the capacity and experience we have developed, with all our friends."

Noting that many countries are strengthening their legal and institutional infrastructures to combat the growing hybrid threats, Director of Communications Altun stated that as one of the countries most exposed to disinformation, Türkiye continues to take the necessary steps in this line.

Emphasising that social media and new media technologies, which affect a wide spectrum from personal rights to public order, from social solidarity to national security, should be made safer for everyone, Director of Communications Altun said, "In the post-truth era, we have to protect our cyber homelands from disinformation, manipulations, agents of influence, cyber exploitation and invasion. Exactly for this reason, our Grand National Assembly of Türkiye passed a law that protects the personal rights of our citizens on social media and strengthens them against systematic disinformation. This law aims to prevent discrediting attempts on social media and protect our citizens from fake news, disinformation and perception operations of malicious actors. We believe that this legal regulation will contribute to the construction of an order in which the truth prevails and a cleaner communication environment."

"We are ready to contribute in every way possible to the institutionalisation of strategic communication with the principles of governance, leadership and professionalism in the name of building a much stronger and more resilient international society in the face of crises and uncertainties in the international arena, within our opportunities," Director of Communications Altun said and noted that a qualified platform such as the Stratcom Summit will advance our strategic communication capacities in terms of eliminating problems and uncertainties with the possibilities for international cooperation.

Noting that the Stratcom Summit has become an important summit where high-level strategic communicators from various countries come together and share their experiences, Director of Communications Altun thanked those who attended the summit and contributed to its organisation.

Stressing that they are also launching the Stratcom Hackathon for the first time this year as part of the Stratcom Summit, Director of Communications Altun said, "In order to improve the strategic communication and crisis communication coordination capacity of our country, 100 participants from 20 institutions will carry out detailed theoretical and practical works for five days. Our valuable participants who contributed to the Hackathon are among us today. I hope that the second International Strategic Communication Summit will be beneficial for our country, our region and all humanity."

Anadolu Agency (AA) Chairman of the Board and Director General Serdar Karagöz, TRT Director General Mehmet Zahid Sobacı, President of the Radio and Television Supreme Council Ebubekir Şahin, Anadolu Agency Board Members Yusuf Özkır and İsmail Çağlar, local and foreign communication experts, media managers and guests attended the opening ceremony of the Stratcom Summit.