The conference was opened by MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. In his speech, Fidan stressed that the conference was a first in the history of the organization. He noted that they have been implementing comprehensive reforms over the last two years. In sum, he said: “We are going through a dynamic process with respect to foreign policy. Turkey has now assumed the role of a regulator. The information age is accompanied by new threats. Collecting and analyzing information is critical for decision-makers. The nature of threats is changing. There are threats on the national and international level.”
At the beginning of his speech, Davutoğlu emphasized that intelligence analysis is the most important aspect of any decision-making mechanism. He elaborated on the relationship between information and action, as well as between intelligence and politics. He remarked: “It is wrong to rely on a single type of intelligence. Today analysis is made based on momentary descriptions. We should focus on process analysis rather than on momentary analysis. If you don’t know the past, you cannot correctly analyze the moment. We have seen that the Arab Spring was not restricted to Tunisia only, but was signaling the coming big tremor, and that the Cold War structures collapsed in the Middle East just as they had collapsed in the Balkans. Understanding and making sense are two different notions. When you make sense of the current developments, you realize that the Cold War is ending in the Middle East. Micro-decisions should take macro-strategies into consideration. As authoritarian regimes cannot survive in Egypt, they cannot survive in Syria either. Threats should be defined. If you collect intelligence based on threats, you lack an adaptation period. You cannot collect intelligence by stalking only the threats. You need to get a simple picture, and this picture should not accommodate exaggeration or single-sided perspective. We need visionary intelligence. Turkey is scaling up with its economy and foreign policy, and it should scale up with its intelligence as well.”
Davutoğlu talked more about risks than threats and asserted that risks must be analyzed. As noted by Professor Bülent Aras, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomacy Academy, threats are measurable, but risks are amorphous.
The MİT is in the process of reforming and preparing itself for the 21st century. As MİT Deputy Undersecretary Ambassador Abdurrahman Bilgiç put it, scientific methods are replacing the old master-apprentice relations. In Turkey, it is very difficult to divorce foreign intelligence from domestic intelligence, two closely interwoven spheres. However, it is an indisputable fact that with its foreign policy becoming multi-sided, multi-dimensional and complicated, Turkey needs foreign intelligence analysis that will support its foreign policy.
All intelligence organizations across the globe are in a process of transformation in the 21st century. They are redefining their modes of operation with concepts of democracy, transparency and human rights in mind. They are updating their infrastructures. Increasingly greater importance is placed on open intelligence analysis. Early warning systems for the successful prediction of crises, threat perception, strategic intelligence, rapid and correct combination and use of momentary and daily information snippets, systems analysis, analysis of failure and similar concepts are on the rise.
Studies on the use of mathematical models to support social sciences and intelligence were first pioneered in the US in the aftermath of World War II, and these studies later became popular around the world. Mathematical models are certainly useful, but we should never forget that man is a living and thinking being with a soul that cannot be fully modeled.
The MİT has had legendary presidents, such as Kuşçubaşı Eşref, and kicked off its radical process of modernization with Ambassador Sönmez Köksal. Under Fidan it has updated its technological and analysis infrastructure and entered a process of reform to redefine itself in line with the emerging 21st century concepts of democracy, transparency and human rights.