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Can Antalya Diplomacy Forum Replace Munich Security Conference?

 *Bu yazı 09/03/2023 tarihinde yayınlanmıştır.

 Doç.Dr. Güray ALPAR/SDE Başkanı


 The need for a “New Security Architecture”

A security architecture is a unified security design that addresses the requirements and potential risks in a given environment. Recently, besides the security architecture, it is seen that the field of diplomacy has undergone a transformation being affected by the changes. In addition to technological innovations, the "new asymmetrical environment" created by the changes and competition between the individual and the state makes itself felt in many areas. In such an environment, more than ever, a new understanding of security architecture and diplomacy with enhanced adaptability are needed in order to propose solutions to the problems experienced in the international arena, and to reconstruct and manage change. However, as in the Munich Security Conference, as we have revealed in our previous evaluations, in the activities that go beyond purpose, in which more and more desperation is revealed, there is not the slightest proposal, initiative or opinion regarding a solution, in a sense, it is as if it is not the establishment of peace, but it is obvious that a perception has been created as if crises are wanted to emerge.

Asia's Munich Security Conference: Shangri-La Dialogue

It is known that a similar Munich Security Conference has been held in Singapore since 2002. The “Shangri-La Dialogue” brings together about 600 politicians, diplomats and researchers from 59 different countries.   This Dialogue, takes its name from the hotel where it was held. The event is known as Asia's Munich Security Conference. The organizer of the Dialogue Forum is the International Institute for Strategy Studies (IISS), a London-based think tank considered among the 10 most influential think tanks in the world. The directors of this institute, which draws attention with its management staff, members of the Board of Trustees and its financiers, have generally been English, German and French. The Shangri-La conference, which was designed by Sir John Chipman right after the 36th Munich Security Conference held in 2001. Dialogue shows itself with decisions beyond its purpose, although it supposedly aims to develop cooperation for peace in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to government representatives (defense ministers), around 200 delegates from politicians, diplomats, senior military officials, academics, journalists, think tank analysts, representatives of non-governmental organizations, arms manufacturers, and business are also attending Shangri-La Dialogue meetings. Although Eastern bloc countries such as China are participating, the mind behind the organization, the purpose of its establishment and the outputs, aim to contribute to the creation of the Asia-Pacific Strategy in an Anglo-Saxon line belonging to the Western bloc countries. When the topics and outputs of the conference in previous years are examined, it is not difficult to predict that this situation and the Indo-Pacific region will be the scene of new crises rather than being a peace area in the next period.

However, security is one of the most important needs not only for people but also for states. The ineffectiveness of the structures created to ensure security is one of the high-level problems that need to be considered. In such an environment, where the problems are exacerbated rather than being solved, countries and those in need inevitably turn to new searches. In this sense, the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, which has emerged as a new formation, offers a very suitable option to the whole world and deserves to be examined.

Antalya Diplomacy Forum

Antalya Diplomacy Forum, among diplomats, politicians and academics; has been carried out since 2021 as a dialogue platform where ideas and opinions are shared in the fields of politics, diplomacy 

and economy. In this gathering, especially leaders, thinkers, politicians, opinion leaders and businessmen from many countries are also discussing regional and global problems on a common platform and presenting solutions for these problems. The participation of young people and media representatives in these activities is also important in a sense. Besides, Antalya’s, touristic, historical and cultural features; with its geographical location, ease of transportation, excellent accommodation and congress centers, makes it the perfect place for such events in all seasons.

Antalya Diplomacy Forum: 2021

The first face-to-face forum held in Antalya between 18-20 June 2021 under the name of "Innovative Diplomacy: New Era, New Approaches" was important in that it marked the beginning of a different era in many respects. The forum, attended by 11 heads of state or government and more than 40 foreign ministers, was in a way the Davos of the Afro-Eurasian region, and as such it was a candidate to turn into an institutional structure like the Munich Security Conference and the Doha Forum (The Forum, held annually in Doha, Qatar, since 2003, aims to bring together leaders in policy-making to discuss critical challenges facing the world and create innovative and action-oriented networks).

In an environment where the current international system denies the "human" element and bases everything on "interests", unjust practices brought increasing reactions in the world. In the special sessions held at the forum, besides thematic issues such as extremism, discrimination, information pollution, terrorism and migration, Africa; Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia, Transatlantic relations were also discussed. The success of the forum and its ability to present ideas would have a positive impact on the next year.

Antalya Diplomacy Forum: 2022

At the event in 2021, the fact that the participants were experts in their fields and that the organization was carried out flawlessly revealed the experience Turkey gained in such events. As a matter of fact, the interest in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, which was held for the second time with the title of "Reconstructing Diplomacy" between 11-13 March 2022, was even higher. In addition to 17 heads of state and government, the participation of more than 80 ministers and representatives of nearly 40 

international organizations in this forum was important in terms of showing the level reached by the event in a short time.

Another remarkable point of this Forum was that it was sincerely hosting the highest-level diplomatic talks between the two countries in order to establish peace at a time when the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine were escalating. With the efforts of Turkey in the Antalya Diplomatic Forum, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba met around the same table for the first time since the beginning of the war, and this meeting continued with initiatives such as grain shipments in the later period, thus preventing food crises that could affect the whole world. In this sense, he showed the whole world how important it is to keep the channels of dialogue open in order to achieve peace. This situation will make more sense considering that Russia was not invited to the Munich Security Conference held in 2021 and 2022 and that many issues, especially the war in Syria, which affect and will affect the security of Europe in many respects, were not even brought to the agenda at this conference.

The topics selected and the meetings held for the event in 2022 were also in line with humanitarian needs. In this context; inclusive and sustainable growth, equality in global health, bridging differences, democratic governance and security, strengthening solidarity, coping with new realities, recoding diplomacy, global roads to peace and prosperity, reconciliatory dialogue in the Balkans, holistic approach to irregular migration, energy security, panel and discussion topics such as climate change, combating racism, reviewing security in Europe and the vision for development in Africa were important in that they brought real needs to the agenda. Thus, it was aimed to shed light on real humanitarian problems, to put forward solutions and to cooperate with participants from many parts of the world.

Antalya Diplomacy Forum: 2023

It is seen that the Antalya Diplomacy Forum has become a peace platform where global and regional-centered problems are dealt with comprehensively in a short time. The event, which was planned to be held on March 10-12, 2023, with the main theme of "Effective Diplomacy for Peace and Order", was postponed to the last quarter of the year due to the earthquake disaster in Turkey. However, it seems that in the new period, Turkey will be a center country for the world of diplomacy. It is clear that there is a need for a new common understanding, transformation and realistic perspectives based on people and justice. In this respect, being ready for the new era is no longer a choice, it is a necessity.

A new understanding and vision are needed for the new era

Antalya Diplomacy Forum, in its current form, is a candidate to serve the needed peace and tranquility environment instead of conferences and events that have lost their prestige. However, it is clear that this requires a new vision and understanding. The studies should be carried out by a professional team who are experts in their field, planning should be done in advance and sufficient time should be given for the participants to make the preparations. In this sense, it is necessary to pay attention to the selection of the organizing committee. Afterwards, it is important to identify the participants. In this sense, apart from the purpose of educating non-experts in the Forum and finding an audience, there is a need for expert participation and preparations in advance. The main goal should be that the proposals and suggestions at the end of the conference be realistic in the needed areas and at the applicable level. This is also important for the prestige of the event.

It is important that “Civil Society” and especially “Think Tanks” are actively involved in the Forum

In the creation of the new era diplomacy understanding, it is necessary to go beyond individual goals and to create a broader and more realistic vision appropriate to the seriousness of the goals. It would be appropriate to determine the structuring and organization in a way that will ensure the formation of the system in the same way. In this structuring, besides diplomats, thinkers and scientists and academics have great duties.

It is a shortcoming that think tanks as well as not enough non-governmental organizations actively participate in this event. Civil society organizations play an important role in a democratic society. Think tanks with experts, on the other hand, make rational recommendations, analyzes and prepare reports so that managers can determine correct and realistic policies, especially in the political decision-making processes of countries. It is seen that such organizations are gradually developing in Turkey. Effective use of such organizations is possible, and this should be particularly encouraged. In this sense, think tanks can both contribute to scientific progress and contribute significantly to the desired outputs of the conference, if they can be used correctly by informing them in advance.

As a result, it is obvious that the current international system is getting more and more difficult in the face of emerging challenges and is moving away from solving the problems. This situation clearly shows itself in many events happening today. Humanity, strong diplomacy, and platforms are needed to resolve tensions with a human-centered perspective, to manage change, to facilitate harmony and to encourage cooperation towards peace. Antalya Diplomacy Forum, which offers a new environment to the world of diplomacy in order to think together and develop peaceful ways of acting together, has shown to the whole world that it has the features to meet this need in a short time with the humanitarian foreign policy understanding it is based on, and in this sense, with a visionary approach and understanding change. As such, it has proven that it is ready to take a more active role in the future.