Turkish Foreign Ministry remains proactive actor on centennial of Türkiye's founding
Building on Ottoman diplomatic tradition, Foreign Ministry remains relevant in crisis management, conflict resolution
The Turkish Foreign Ministry, founded on a longstanding tradition of Ottoman diplomacy, continues to play an active role in crisis management and conflict resolution while emphasizing effective multilateralism in the face of regional and global challenges, as Türkiye marks its 100th anniversary.
The Ottoman Empire for centuries ruled over a vast geography using a strong diplomatic tradition as an effective tool.
The Foreign Ministry was founded on the long-established tradition of Ottoman diplomacy.
Until the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire’s foreign affairs were managed by Reis ul-Kuttab, a senior post in the administration.
Reis ul-Kuttab also undertook other duties such as carrying out state correspondence and keeping the main records of the state.
The beginning of the institutionalization of the Foreign Ministry was in 1523, the year Haydar Celebi was mentioned as the first Reis ul-Kuttab in official records.
Especially after the transition to the Sublime Porte, also known as Babiali -- equivalent to 10 Downing Street or the White House -- the importance of the Reis ul-Kuttab institution gradually rose, and became the main structure responsible for diplomacy.
In December 1793, during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Selim III, the empire’s first permanent embassy was opened in London, and Yusuf Agah Efendi was appointed the first Ottoman ambassador.
Thus, the Ottoman Empire started to practice diplomacy based on the principles of permanent representation and reciprocity.
Later, embassies were opened in Vienna, Berlin and Paris, while ehbenderlik -- which carried out consular activities -- was established.
While the first consulate was opened in Vienna in 1802, between 1802 and 1821, consulates were established in 16 locations in the Mediterranean and especially in Italian ports.
The number climbed to 228 during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II, including consulates in Latin America, Africa and the Far East.
Under Mahmud II, Foreign Ministry established
An important turning point that gave Turkish diplomacy a more institutionalized character was the establishment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1836 during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II.
On March 11, 1836, following that important step, Mehmet Akif Pasha, the last Reis ul-Kuttab, became the first “Foreign Affairs Minister.”
The Babiali Chamber of Translation, which was established in 1821 to ensure relations of the Ottoman Empire with other states through reliable officials and which prepared the ground for training of reformist bureaucrats who would influence the future, was attached to the Reis ul-Kuttab.
Names such as Mustafa Resit Pasha, Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha and Kececizade Fuat Pasha came to the forefront as the ones who directed the transformation in the Ottoman State, such as the Tanzimat and Islahat Edicts, while assuming the duties of foreign minister and grand vizier.
The War of Independence opens new page in Turkish diplomacy
With the National Struggle launched by Türkiye’s founding leader Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk by landing in the Black Sea province of Samsun on May 19, 1919, a brand new page was opened in Turkish diplomacy and the foundations of the Republic's foreign policy principles were laid under Ataturk's leadership.
Since the establishment of the Republic of Türkiye, Ataturk's views and principles have guided the conduct of Turkish foreign policy, and his maxim: “Peace at home, peace in the world" has been the fundamental goal of Turkish foreign policy.
Immediately after the opening of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye (TBMM) on April 23, 1920, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was officially established May 2, 1920, with the first National government and Bekir Sami Bey was appointed its head.
The ministry, which was established with extremely limited means, played an important role in the process leading to the Treaty of Lausanne while working selflessly despite difficulties, with increasing intensity of foreign contacts during the National Struggle.
The Treaty of Lausanne -- signed by Türkiye on one side and Britain, France, Italy, Greece and their allies on the other -- recognized the modern Turkish state and replaced the 1920 Treaty of Sevres -- an unfair pact imposed on the Ottoman Empire after World War I.
While the diplomatic activities of the Foreign Ministry supported the military struggle of the new government, the Ankara Treaty signed with France after the Moscow-Kars Treaty ensured the closure of another front.
While the military struggle ended with the Mudanya Truce, the Lausanne Peace Treaty, one of the founding documents of the Republic of Türkiye, was signed after eight months of negotiations by the delegation headed by Ismet Pasha, then the deputy foreign minister.
1st embassy opened in Baku
After the establishment of the Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started to develop its internal and external organizations.
The Ankara government, which opened its first foreign mission in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1920, appointed Mahmud Sevket Bey as its representative.
In addition to Baku, the Ankara government expanded its diplomatic network by opening representative offices in Moscow, Kabul, Rome, Tbilisi and Berlin in 1920, Sofia and Paris in 1921 and The Hague in 1922.
Azerbaijan opened an embassy in Ankara on Oct. 18, 1921, and Ataturk attended the ceremony to hoist the Azerbaijani flag at the embassy.
With the opening of the representative offices of the Soviets, Georgia and Afghanistan, a diplomatic corps was established in Ankara.
In 1927, the organizational structure of the ministry was determined
An important turning point in the development of the Foreign Ministry was the determination of the working principles and procedures, and the organizational structure of the organization with the regulation adopted in 1927.
Türkiye, which intensified its efforts to become an independent, strong and modern country at the level of modern civilizations, took an active part in international organizations established in the aftermath of the two World Wars with the need to maintain global peace.
The Ottoman ambassadors serving in European countries were the pioneers of modernization in the state as well as conducting bilateral relations.
During the last 100 years, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has undergone various institutional changes and its current structure was established in 2018 with Presidential Decree No. 1.
After World War II, permanent missions to international organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, the Council of Europe and later the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), which were the cornerstones of the political and security architecture in Europe, became the new elements of the Foreign Office's foreign organization.
The process of full membership to the EU was another important topic in terms of diplomacy, which also had an effect on the organization of the Foreign Ministry.
But in the 1970s, there were planned and organized Armenian terrorism targeting officials and family members of officials in the ministry's foreign service.
The assassinations carried out by the Armenian terror group, ASALA, as well as Turkish diplomats and officials targeted by the 17 November terror organization operating in Greece, claimed the lives of 34 officials from the Turkish Foreign Service, including five ambassadors.
Türkiye has 260 representative offices worldwide
With the end of the Cold War, important developments took place in the ministry and its foreign organization grew significantly.
The number of active foreign missions for Türkiye, which was 163 in 2002, has reached 260, including 146 embassies, 13 permanent representations, 98 Consulates General, one consular agency, one consular bureau and one trade office.
Since 2002, the number of Türkiye’s foreign missions increased from 81 to 99 in Europe, 50 to 75 in Asia, 14 to 32 in the Americas and 14 to 50 in Africa.
While the Consulate General of Türkiye in Chengdu, China was opened Jan. 1 and the Consulates General in Najaf, Iraq and Oran, Algeria opened Feb. 1, it is envisaged that new representative offices will be opened in the coming period.
As of October 2023, the ministry continues its services in every corner of the world with more than 7,000 personnel, including 2,050 diplomatic career officers.
Currently, 39 out of 157 ambassadors (24.8 %), 15 out of 30 directors-general (50 %) and 40 % of the entire staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are women.
Türkiye actively uses humanitarian diplomacy for peaceful resolution of conflicts
Türkiye, with 260 missions and the world's fifth-largest diplomatic network, continues to contribute to prosperity and stability in its region and beyond and to actively use humanitarian diplomacy tools for the peaceful solution to problems.
Since the beginning of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, Türkiye has been playing the role of mediator and facilitator in negotiations between the two countries.
The Black Sea Initiative, which took effect as a result of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's intensive diplomatic initiatives at the level of leaders, made a significant contribution to food security.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs endeavors to maintain and further develop international political, economic and cultural relations within the bilateral framework and multilateral platforms.
Today, Türkiye is a diplomatic power that strongly defends its legitimate rights and interests in every field, whose opinions are consulted in the international arena, suggestions are taken into consideration and finds solutions to problems as a mediator and facilitator.
In 2023, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Türkiye, means "Five Hundred Years and Beyond" for the Turkish Foreign Service, which has a long history.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.