The diplomacy is not maintained only through traditional methods anymore. Parliaments and parliamentarians are playing a greater role in diplomacy. Inter-parliamentary relations gained a momentum and “parliamentary diplomacy” became more popular as a new tool of diplomatic relations. In this context, the following mechanisms and functions are regarded as essential components of parliamentary diplomacy:
- Parliamentary Assemblies
- Joint Parliamentary Committees
- Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Groups
- Ratification of International Treaties
- The External Relations of the Standing Committees
· Deliberations in the Plenary regarding the Foreign Policy
- Election Observation Missions
In parallel to these, foreign relations activities of the GNAT have also increased tremendously in the last decade. The major activities of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye within the scope of international relations are as follows:
· Relations carried out within the framework of the international organizations which Türkiye is a member of,
· Relations within the framework of joint parliamentary committees established or to be established as per an existing treaty between the Turkish Republic and an international organization that has an organ in its own body consisting of parliamentarians,
· Relations within the framework of parliamentary unions established or to be established with or without an international agreement,
· Relations within the framework of friendship groups to be established on the principles of reciprocity with one or more than one of foreign parliament,
· Mutual official visits to parliaments of foreign countries,
· International meetings to be held with the participation of member of parliaments from foreign parliaments, governments and international organizations, and the international meetings to be organized by the GNAT as well.
· Activities of the private parliamentary delegations to pay official visits to foreign countries in terms of Türkiye’s foreign policy.
Foreign relations activities of the GNAT are carried out as per the Law on Regulation of Foreign Relations of the GNAT (Law No. 3620, dated March 28, 1990). In this manner, the duties regarding the administration of international activities of the GNAT and the Administrative Organization of the Assembly have been granted to the Department of Foreign Relations and Protocol pursuant to the Law on Administrative Organization of the Office of the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye (Law No. 6253, dated December 1, 2011).
Numerous delegations are sent abroad to contribute to developing inter-parliamentary relations, participate in international meetings, conferences, and seminars, and participate in the activities of international parliamentary assemblies.
The political party groups’ share of the number of members in the outgoing delegations is decided by the Office of the Speaker according to the share of seats of each political party group in the Assembly.
Full members and substitute members for the outgoing delegations to represent the GNAT are nominated according to the internal regulations of each political party group. The candidates are deemed elected by submitting their names to the Plenary.
The decision on whether an invitation from a foreign counterpart is accepted or not is taken in the Plenary, and the Speaker informs his/her addressee of the aforementioned decision through diplomatic channels.
On the other hand, parallel to the rising importance and effectiveness of Türkiye in international affairs, the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye has been hosting numerous delegations from different geographies. The delegations, which arrive as official guests of the Assembly vary from speakers of other parliaments to inter-parliamentary friendship groups.
Parliamentary diplomacy is carried out at the highest level by the speakers of the parliaments. In this sense, meetings of the Speaker of GNAT with his counterparts, foreign delegations he receives, international meetings in which he participates, official visits he pays to foreign countries, representing the GNAT at the highest level, form the important components of parliamentary diplomacy.
Speakers of the Assembly have always attached the utmost importance to foreign relations of the GNAT. In meetings with their counterparts, speakers of the assemblies have made significant contributions to improving the relations between the (two) countries, preventing conflicts if any, hosting multilateral meetings to act jointly on matters concerning the international community, developing inter-parliamentary relations, and organizing mutual visits and exchange programs among the parliaments through the relevant cooperation protocols. The legislative body, has become an indispensable part of the foreign policy through the foreign activities of the Speaker.
The Speaker of the Assembly also meets with presidents of the visited countries or paying official visits to Türkiye, inter alia his/her counterparts from other parliaments. Furthermore, the Speaker receives prime ministers, ambassadors and various foreign dignitaries.
The Speaker attends conferences and platforms established within various international organizations exclusive to the heads of parliaments. Recently, these conferences have made considerable progress in institutionalization and have become important tools of parliamentary diplomacy. Conferences and platforms of heads of parliaments in which the Speaker of the Assembly participates are as follows:
· Conference of the Speakers of EU Parliaments
· European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments
· Conference of Parliamentary Union of Islamic Cooperation Organization
- Meeting of D-20 Speakers’ Consultation
· Conference of the Speakers of the Parliaments of Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic- Speaking Countries
· Conference of the Speakers of the Parliaments of the South East European Cooperation Process
· World Conference of the Speakers of Parliaments (organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union).
· Conference of Parliament Speakers to Combat Terrorism and Strengthening Regional Connectivity