While the world’s attention is consumed by the Russia-Ukraine war, Türkiye will host a big diplomatic gathering exhibiting the importance of dialogue.

Ankara has not yet given up seeking peace between Russia and Ukraine despite the seemingly escalating war. 

Türkiye believes that the Antalya Diplomacy Forum (ADF) could be a good opportunity for Moscow and Kiev to discuss their differences and find common ground to address the war. The forum will host both states’ foreign ministers to help them address the conflict. 

“At a time when diplomacy is thought to be over in the world, we are continuing our preparations to host all leaders and foreign ministers around the world with a very wide and active participation,” said Elif Comoglu Ulgen, a female Turkish ambassador, who is one of the ADF co-coordinators. 

Ulgen and other co-coordinators have led the efforts to prepare the forum under the management of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. While the Turkish foreign ministry is primarily responsible for organising the forum, there are also other partners and supporters like the Atlantic Council. 

From its first meeting last year, the ADF has shown its capacity to bring together top diplomats, academics and intellectuals from the US, the West, Russia and China, to Türkiye’s scenic port city of Antalya located on its southern Mediterranean coast. 

This year the forum, whose main theme is “Recoding Diplomacy”, will be held on March 11-13, hosting 15 heads of states, 67 ministers and 44 representatives from international organisations. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make the opening speech of the Antalya Forum. 

Türkiye's Antalya Forum will happen under the auspices of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Türkiye's Antalya Forum will happen under the auspices of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (AA)

In a surprising development, the Armenian foreign minister also confirmed that he will be part of the event, showing good signs that Ankara and Yerevan, two capitals with several disagreements over various issues, can move toward normalising ties. 

In total, more than 2,000 participants will attend the forum as more than 10,000 people are expected to participate in the event online. The increasing participant number of the 2022 forum is a big boost compared to last year’s event, in which 11 heads of state and 45 ministers attended. 

The forum will have meetings in different formats, but most of them will be panels on topics from democratic governance to energy security, countering terrorism and fighting racism and discrimination. The forum will also discuss issues like migration and climate change. 

It will also host meetings on regional issues and the future of some political unions like the European Union, whose foundations have been shaken with the ongoing Russian attack over Ukraine, a country that aspires to be part of the Western bloc. 

One panel, which is titled, “What does strategic autonomy entail for Europe?” deals with the EU’s prospects in the face of many challenges from inside and outside. 

Hungarian and Polish leadership have recently posed challenges to the EU as Russia, with its ongoing invasion, threatens Brussels’ gas supplies and any future for Ukraine in the union.

The forum will also delve into other regional issues with panels focusing on various conflicts in the Middle East and efforts to find common ground. The ADF will also have specific meetings, discussing new realities in different regions from the war-torn and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to the turbulent Balkans. 

Turkish mediation

Türkiye, a NATO member, who has strong political and economic ties with Russia, has worked hard to prevent a full-fledged Russia-Ukraine war to happen, mediating between the two countries. 

People walk under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine, on March 8, 2022.
People walk under a destroyed bridge while fleeing Irpin, on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine, on March 8, 2022. (AP)

The Antalya Forum will be another opportunity for Ankara to work out a peaceful resolution between the two states as their respective foreign ministers will be possibly attending the event. 

Since the beginning of the war on February 24, millions of Ukrainian refugees have headed for the country’s western borders to seek safety in neighbouring states, showing clear signs of another big humanitarian disaster after Syria and Yemen.  

In order to prevent the war from expanding across Europe or turning into a global conflict, Ankara believes the two sides need direct dialogue in Antalya, which might help persuade both countries’ presidents to meet each other. 

High women participation 

From the very beginning, women have played a great role in the Antalya Forum from its organisational level to its participants. 

"The Antalya Diplomacy Forum rises on the shoulders of women.' we can say," said Elif Comoglu Ulgen, the Turkish ambassador, one of the organisers of the ADF. (AA)

“I would like to express that there are many women among organisers. 'ADF rises on the shoulders of women' we can say," Ulgen, the Turkish ambassador, told Anadolu Agency (AA). 

“There was also a panel on women, security and peace at the ADF last year. This year, ADF will host another very special and important panel on women,” Ulgen said. 

There will be more panels on women and their difficulties, making sure that “issues related to women” can be raised in every political panel the forum hosts, according to Ulgen. Also Ulgen and her colleagues have paid special attention that there is a balance between men and women in terms of representation among panelists and participants. 

The success of Turkish women’s organising power in the ADF is also related to the fact that the Turkish foreign ministry’s diplomatic corps includes a lot of women, employing the most female managers among Turkish government ministries and agencies. 

"We have to thank our Minister Cavusoglu for this proud picture. We can see the importance he attaches to this issue with our female ambassadors at the top position in the Ministry and the ratio of female personnel, which is 37 percent," Ulgen said. 

Among 274 Turkish ambassadors, 72 are women, deployed across several countries and continents. 

Source: TRT World