Representatives of foreign missions serving in Turkey, and primarily the military attachés and defence attachés, are among the most important stakeholders in the defence and aerospace sector. Given the increase in the international collaborations of the Turkish defence and aerospace sector, establishing appropriate and sustainable relations with these stakeholders has become critical. DA Publishing was founded to support the sector exactly in this respect. In addition to preparing and publishing AMAC Magazine, which is the official publication of the Ankara Military Attaché Corps (AMAC), the company is offering many new services to its stakeholders. We spoke with Birol Tekince, Board Member of DA Publishing and Executive Editor of AMAC Magazine, and Vehbi Tunca, Board Member in Charge of Business Development at DA Publishing, about the reason for the foundation of DA Publishing, as well as the goals of the company.
MSI TDR: First of all, MSI TDR sends its best wishes to DA Publishing. Can you tell us about the motivation behind the establishment of this new initiative in the defence and aerospace sector?
Birol TEKİNCE: As the international collaborations of the Turkish defence and aerospace sector increase, companies are carrying out a series of activities to support and develop these collaborations. They participate more in events, such as exhibitions and B2B meetings, and their media usage is also increasing. In addition, they act in coordination with institutions and organisations such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Presidency of Defence Industries and the Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters’ Association (SSI), and join various organisations, such as clusters, which have an export vision.
On the other hand, there is another highly critical activity that must be carried out to sustain international collaborations, and that is to develop relations with foreign attachés serving in our country and to maintain these relations. At this point, AMAC Magazine stands out as a prominent and peerless publication focused on introducing the AMAC member military attachés serving in Turkey, as well as the defence and security related needs of their respective countries, to the Turkish defence and aerospace sector.
AMAC Magazine follows and records all the events carried out by military and defence attachés in Turkey, and in this way, has become both an official and special publication for military and defence attachés, full of memories.
In addition, we see that the military and defence attachés share the magazine, which is also aimed at promoting the Turkish defence and aerospace sector among military and defence attachés, with their embassies and procurement authorities in their home countries together with the English version of the MSI TDR, thus making AMAC Magazine a very important communication tool.
In short, AMAC Magazine has become a bridge between the AMAC-member military and defence attachés and the Turkish defence and aerospace sector, and is serving as a platform that allows the sector companies to promote themselves to military and defence attachés and to the internal mechanisms of the countries concerned. The magazine provides sector companies with the opportunity to get to know the attachés more closely and even improve their social relations with them.
At this point, we would like to mention that the sector is overlooking a significant fact: Attachés come to Turkey for two- or three-year tenures. Some do not have assistants, while others are in charge of numerous countries, in addition to Turkey. Under such circumstances, how many Turkish defence and aerospace companies can an attaché get acquainted with in such a limited time? Unless companies put special effort in introducing themselves, this number will be very low.
Having acquired AMAC Magazine, which – as I just mentioned – assumes the critical role in promoting the sector abroad, DA Publishing was established on 14 January with a view to contributing to the relations between the companies in the sector and military and defence attachés, supporting the international collaborations of our sector, and aiming to achieve these goals through both AMAC Magazine and the other services provided.
With the knowhow of MSI TDR in the field of sectoral publishing; the professional support of the KasabaWorks creative digital agency; the experience we have gained to date; the relationships we have built; the trust we have established with the diplomatic community over many years, and with our partners who have proven themselves in various fields of organisation, we have put into practice a services company that was previously missing from this field. We decided to enter into this business with the intention of organising the high-quality and reliable services required by a special and sensitive community, considering their needs and acting like managing the timeline of a defence project.
MSI TDR: In what activities will DA Publishing be engaged?
Birol TEKİNCE: DA Publishing was established both to carry out publishing activities, and to arrange various organisations within the scope of the AMAC members’ activities. With this in mind, it will continue to regularly publish AMAC Magazine, which is its core business and the mainstay of its establishment.
While turning AMAC Magazine, which we have been publishing for six years, into a niche publication for both AMAC members and our sector, we have also put great effort into developing the relations between AMAC and the sector. Accordingly, AMAC members grant various privileges to the companies that are covered in their publication, AMAC Magazine, and contribute to the promotion of those companies in their home countries. They give priority to inviting representatives of the companies already featured in the magazine to their events, held with the attendance of attachés. In AMAC Magazine, we highlight the news related to the activities of these companies, and introductory content related to their products and solutions, thus ensuring their visibility among military and defence attachés and their communication networks. In addition, with the AMAC website, which we are planning to launch soon, we will bring a new dimension to the promotion of the sector to AMAC.
The development that led us to add new features to the activities we have carried out with the AMAC community to date, and to establish DA Publishing, took place towards the end of 2019. We received a request from AMAC’s Executive Community to support the sponsorship activities of AMAC to be carried out in 2020. In his interview published in the February 2020 issue of AMAC Magazine and in the 191st edition of the MSI TDR, Brigadier General Tarek Baccouche, the Dean of AMAC, described their purpose as follows: “Relationships can continue only if they are sustainable. Adopting this perspective at AMAC, we opened such events as the AMAC Winter and Fall Conferences, the AMAC Picnic, the AMAC FunRun and the AMAC Ball to the participation of Turkish defence and aerospace companies. This is a win-win project. Companies can socialize with AMAC members, can increase their mutual trust and can enhance their relations, while at the same time promoting their companies and products.”
In previous years, AMAC seldom opened its events to the participation of defence and aerospace companies, but now they are inviting companies to their activities, recognizing how important the sustainability of mutual communication is. Our role here can be defined as supporting the organisational aspect and carrying out sponsorship activities for such events. By sponsoring these events, the companies will have the chance to improve their relations with the AMAC community and with the network they represent. Participating in the events organised by AMAC will offer the companies the opportunity to carry out effective business development works with the military and defence attachés of over 75 countries.
Considering that it will not be possible to hold such events for some more time due to the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, we anticipate that AMAC Magazine and its website will soon be playing a more critical role in the communication between the stakeholders in our sector and the military and defence attachés.
In time, when things return to normal, we will intensify our efforts with regard to event organisations.
Sustainable Relationship Management
MSI TDR: What is the level of awareness in the sector of the services you provide?
Vehbi TUNCA: I can say that there is a rising awareness when compared to 2015, when we presented AMAC Magazine to the sector with a renewed face. In line with the development of the sector and with the increasing awareness of the importance of exports, we see that company executives are becoming increasingly interested in AMAC Magazine and AMAC’s activities. There is now a broader community that is aware of the importance of relationships and perception management, and this segment acts knowing that the military and defence attachés they are in contact with are chosen people who can speak many languages, have academic careers, have worked in many fields, including the defence sector before reaching their current rank, and are particularly skilled in relationship management.
We see that companies that utilise AMAC Magazine effectively, give regular messages, and share their news and promote their products on a regular basis have already established solid relationships with AMAC members in their social and business lives. It is apparent that the opening of AMAC events to the participation of companies will improve this communication even further. The business development activities carried out by companies with regular and strong contacts with the attachés generally have better success rates.
MSI TDR: The diplomatic world has its own dynamics. Although the attaché offices seem like a sub branch of this world, in fact they have their own traditions and rules. Can you tell us about the importance of such traditions and rules to provide a better understanding of your work?
Vehbi TUNCA: First of all, if you are representing your country abroad, you are obliged to follow the diplomatic rules applicable to both your own country and the host nation. For example, foreigners who come to our country for touristic purposes can go to any region of their choice and stay as long as they want, provided they have a valid visa. However, when diplomats need to make a trip outside Ankara, they must notify certain authorities, even if the trip is to be made for personal or touristic purposes. The reason behind this is that diplomats represent their countries at various levels in the host country, and their security is provided by that country.
In their relations with the host country in various fields, they represent their home country at the highest level, and the most sensitive relations in their representation are those that involve the press. The slightest mistake reported in the press can lead to an irreparable diplomatic crisis. In fact, what has made it possible for the AMAC Magazine team to establish such good relations with the diplomatic community is that these rules have been followed at the highest level for all of the these past six years. While carrying out their duties at the highest level, diplomats must not serve or appear to be serving any person, firm, group, cluster or structure. Since we are knowledgeable about these sensitivities and traditions, we act accordingly both in our bilateral relations and in preparing the AMAC Magazine for publication.
It is for this reason that they see us as members of their family, and invite us to the events and social activities of the AMAC community, and even into their homes. It is also for this reason that when we request a meeting, let’s say, with a company manager, the attachés know that the meeting will not harm them or the AMAC community in any way, and that will be aimed at contributing to the development of relations between AMAC and the sector. At the same time, by informing company representatives who are opening up lines of communication with the diplomatic community in such issues, we try to guide them in the most accurate way about the sensitivities and disciplines of the community.
How Did the Paths of AMAC Magazine and MSI TDR Cross?
MSI TDR: Although DA Publishing is a newly established company, its founders and mission have a long history in the sector. Can you tell us about this process?
Birol TEKİNCE: Before we talk about DA Publishing, we need to explain how the paths of AMAC Magazine and MSI TDR crossed. We cannot explain how this cooperation led us to establish DA Publishing without first explaining the role of MSI TDR in this process and about the friendly, trust-based and long-term relationships and cooperation we have established over the last six years with the military and defence attachés serving in Turkey
MSI TDR’s intention to serve the sector with an English version dates back even to the time of its establishment in 2004. After M5, the only monthly publication covering the Turkish defence and aerospace sector at the time, closed in March 2004, the sector didn’t even have a monthly Turkish language publication. Moreover, there was not much news in the sector that was of relevance to foreign stakeholders. In time, MSI TDR emerged, and developed in line with the development of the sector, and the corporate memory of the sector started to be formed. Bringing many novelties to the Turkish defence and aerospace sector, the magazine in time became the reference publication for the sector. In line with the increasing need of the sector for promotion abroad, MSI TDR started to be published also in English in 2014, and it was in that year when my path crossed with MSI TDR. In those days, during our feasibility studies for the English edition of MSI TDR, we looked to answer to the following question: What would be the target audience of a monthly defence and aerospace magazine published in English? So we started to improve our contacts with foreign military and defence attachés, with whom the sector had little contact, and whose doors were knocked on only for specific projects at the time. With the launch of the English edition of MSI TDR, and in line with our deepening relations with AMAC members, we started to prepare a special column entitled “AMAC Events”. In fact, this column was a reflection of the services we provided to the AMAC community. Within this process, in which we kept the ethical values of these precious people serving as diplomats in our country at the forefront, we entered into closer cooperation with the attaché community, and started to come together with the attachés and their families also at social events.
The autumn of 2015 was a turning point for AMAC Magazine. In several meetings with Brigadier General Jozef Viktorin, the Defence Attaché of Slovakia to Turkey and Dean of AMAC at the time, we started to evaluate how AMAC and MSI TDR could cooperate more effectively. In one such meeting, Brigadier General Viktorin spoke about their annually AMAC Magazine, which covered mainly their social activities. He said that although they had published the magazine with different teams and different concepts over the last four years, they had been unable to achieve the desired level of efficiency, and that they had still been unable to publish the 2014 issue even in the last quarter of 2015. As the MSI TDR team, we made a quick evaluation, and started thinking about how we could make AMAC Magazine a useful and valuable publication both for the Turkish defence and aerospace sector and the AMAC community. At the end of the day, we concluded that the magazine concept we offered them should raise a certain level of awareness. With this in mind, we decided to transform the magazine, which used to be published once a year as a commemorative publication only for attachés, into a platform of communication between the AMAC member military and defence attachés and the Turkish defence and aerospace sector. We wanted to give the AMAC members the opportunity to introduce themselves, to give messages, to share the defence and aerospace needs of their countries, and to present their supply systems through this platform, but also to create a platform for the sharing of news about new appointments to Ankara and promotions among the attachés. In addition, we also wanted to prepare content on such topics as the leading actors in the sector in Turkey, publishing the messages of these actors to the AMAC community, the national/international activities being conducted in Turkey, the products produced by local companies and the capabilities of the Turkish sector.
As a result of this study, we developed a list of suggestions comprising 29 main headings, all of which included subheadings, and knocked the door of Brigadier General Viktorin. At the end of a long meeting, he stated that he would take our suggestions to the AMAC Board of Directors and asked if we could publish a magazine for 2015 if he received a positive result from the board. We said that if our suggestions were accepted, we would be happy to publish the 2015 edition of the magazine. The AMAC General Assembly Meeting was scheduled for early November, while the Board of Directors Meeting was scheduled for October. A positive decision came out from the meeting of October, and all 29 of our suggestions, including the proposal that AMAC Magazine be published by the MSI TDR team, were accepted. In just three weeks we were able to prepare a 84-page magazine, and made it ready for the AMAC General Assembly Meeting. The message of Brigadier General Viktor, the Dean of AMAC, for the first issue we published was: “This first issue is testament to the high quality of our magazine and features our efforts in Turkey, our devotion to our tasks, and the many excellent events that brought us together with host country representatives.” He also noted that the new concept of the magazine would allow AMAC to be more visible. Taking this opportunity, I would like to once again express my gratitude to Brigadier General Viktorin, to the attachés serving on the AMAC Board of Directors at the time, and to all the attachés who paved the way for us to arrive at this current point by approving the proposal for cooperation with MSI TDR at the General Assembly Meeting.
Since then, we have been publishing AMAC Magazine on quarterly basis, without interruption, with issues in February, May, August and November. In addition, to accompany the February issue, we prepare a “Special Issue” detailing the events of the previous year. To date, we have published 17 regular issues and five special issues.
To conclude, our relationship with military and defence attachés, which started with MSI TDR and the AMAC Events column, gained momentum with AMAC Magazine, and this led us to expand our activities to include also organisations, and to bring them under the roof of DA Publishing. With the authorisation we received from the AMAC Board of Directors, we also started to carry out their organisational and sponsorship activities. I believe wholeheartedly that my team will carry this solid and trust-based relationship and this fruitful cooperation, which dates back many years, to the next level.
MSI TDR: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Birol TEKİNCE: Many countries, including Turkey, are suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak that continues to affect the entire world. The losses being experienced have upset us deeply. We convey our condolences to the Turkish people and to the AMAC member countries through their attachés, for their losses. We wish urgent healing to those being treated, while hoping those who have recovered will not face such health problems in the future.
Vehbi TUNCA: We hope to meet you again for intense and fruitful interactions once this crisis is over, and pay our respect, through MSI TDR, to all readers and to the managers and employees serving at all levels in our sector.
On behalf of our readers, we would like to thank Birol Tekince, Board Member of DA Publishing and Executive Editor of AMAC Magazine, and Vehbi Tunca, Board Member in Charge of Business Development at DA Publishing, for taking the time to answer our questions and for providing us with such valuable information.