In the decade since the Justice and Development Party assumed power, Turkey has become a much more assertive foreign-policy player. And when it comes to projecting soft power, the government clearly views the Turkish Red Crescent Society as an important component.
While the Turkish Red Crescent (TRCS) operates under guidelines established by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in order to maintain its standing as a neutral entity, its humanitarian activities tend to complement the policy priorities of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. The prime minister’s attendance at a TRCS gala on August 10 confirmed that the government and the humanitarian aid organization have a close working relationship.
Another example of the government’s strong ties to the aid organization came on August 11, when a TRCS representative escorted a Turkish delegation led by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on a tour of the Banduba Camp in Burma, home to Rohingya Muslims who have been displaced by sectarian violence.
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Mehmet Burk is a practitioner in the humanitarian assistance field, and conducted fieldwork in southeast Turkey in 1999. He is the senior writer and editor of the Relief Analysis Wire (www.mganalytics.org) which assesses emerging trends in international humanitarian issues.