Turkish metropolis Istanbul hosts Stratcom Summit 2021

2-day summit kicks off in Istanbul to address policies, issues, challenges, and trends of the strategic communication ecosystem.

Turkish metropolis Istanbul hosts Stratcom Summit 2021

Turkey this weekend hosts the Stratcom Summit 2021, an international gathering to address compelling policies, issues, challenges, and trends of the strategic communication ecosystem​​​.

The two-day summit will feature 112 speakers from over 30 countries and an audience of over 3,000. Topics to be discussed at the summit included strategic communication, public diplomacy, digital diplomacy, the metaverse, nation branding, disinformation, new media, open intelligence, new communication technologies and trends, strategic marketing, and political communication.

Delivering the event’s opening speech, Turkish Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said the summit will host both experienced media and communications professionals and new media pioneers.

“We will be together at Stratcom for two days, talking about both our concerns and hopes,” he told the summit.

He said the notion of “post-truth” has become a buzzword, cropping up more and more over the last decade.

“New media and new information technologies have started to come to the fore with their negative features rather than their positive ones,” he said.

“On the other hand, successful attempts to establish legitimate and functional legal frameworks to regulate these new media and information technologies have not to be put forward at the global level,” he added.

He decried how “endless ambitions and desire for profits of global media and communication companies” sow “anarchy and chaos,” something that is not easy to deal with.

He said some states remain silent while others use tools of “social control and political censorship,” adding: “Both approaches threaten democratic systems and social, cultural and political polyphony.”

“After years of accusing many countries of ‘internet censorship,’ the day came when they witnessed their own heads of state being censored by these new media,” Altun said.

Cyber order versus cyber wars

Warning of “cyber anarchy” and “information wars,” Altun said many states across the world establish “cyber armies.”

“Strategically, we need a new cyber narrative and order,” he stressed.

Citing debate over social media’s role in the 2016 Brexit campaign and US elections the same year, Altun said: "We need public regulations, but beyond that, social media must companies act within the framework of the principle of transparency and accountability."

"Social media literacy" is also one of the most important and positive factors for tackling the problem, according to Altun.

Altun said one of the important dimensions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's principle of "a fairer world" is closing the inequality gap between countries and societies in a cyber world.

"Just as the world is bigger than five, so is our cyber world is bigger than three or five social media companies," said Altun, referring to Erdogan’s slogan protesting the unrepresentative setup of the UN Security Council.

Other speakers

On Saturday, Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant to Azerbaijan’s president, also spoke about communication of his nation’s victory in the fall 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and Alex Stuart Aiken, UK executive director of government communications, spoke on "Strategic Communication 101."

Speakers at the conference’s 36 main sessions will include senior executives and officials from NATO, the UN Development Program, UNICEF, the UN Environment Program as well as prominent government communicators from various countries, scholars, entrepreneurs, journalists, and world-renowned social media stars.

Officials of many countries who direct their communication strategies – including Singapore, the UK, Estonia, Latvia, Chile, Kosovo, and Nigeria – will also share their experiences.

Other sessions of the summit include “The Story of Kindness from Hilal-i Ahmer to Kizilay,” “Rethinking Government Communication,” and “Strategic Communication and Information Warfare.”

Digital transformation will also be discussed in sessions such as “Digital Strategies Reloading, Digital Newsmakers: Rediscovering Journalism,” “Data is the Message,” “The Future and Content Strategy of Video,” and “How Algorithms Shape Human Life.”