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Democratization in Turkey: Progress and Pitfalls

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 9:00am

World Policy Institute and TESEV present:

Democratization in Turkey:
Progress and Pitfalls 

Breakfast briefing
May 9, 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

This event is by invitation only.

Even as Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party  (AKP) strives to raise the country’s international profile, recent crackdowns on dissent inside the country have caused concern. After the initially positive developments in civil rights and relations with the Kurdish minority following the party’s accession to power, what is the significance of the government’s more recent repressive measures? Does the current constitutional reform process provide a chance to promote greater democracy, or will it merely consolidate the party’s hold on power?  In a country that is slowly acknowledging its own diversity, what are the possibilities of using the constitutional process to promote the accommodation of minority groups and identities?  Will it affect the ethnic conflict with the Kurdish minority, and if so, how?  Does Turkey’s experience have anything to teach the post-revolutionary societies of the Middle East?

In this breakfast briefing and discussion, Belinda Cooper and members of Turkey’s premiere think tank, TESEV, address some of the pressing current issues in Turkey today.

About the Speakers

Özge Genç is program officer in TESEV’s Democratization Program, managing research and advocacy activities on constitutional reform; religion, state and society; and minority rights. She is currently a PhD candidate in political science at Istanbul Bilgi University.

Dilek Kurban is Director of TESEV’s Democratization Program and an adjunct professor at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul. She holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a JD from Columbia Law School. Her work focuses on the Kurdish question, internal displacement, minority rights and media freedom in Turkey, as well as European human rights law. She is a founding member of the Diyarbakır Institute for Political and Social Research in Turkey. Kurban is a regular commentator in the media on Turkey’s democratization process.

Etyen Mahçupyan is program advisor in TESEV’s Democratization Program. He is a journalist and the author of 13 books on Turkish history and politics. From 2007 to 2010 he was editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos and is currently a columnist for several Turkish newspapers.

Belinda Cooper, moderator, is a World Policy Institute Senior Fellow and director of WPI's Program on Democratization, Human Rights and Security in Turkey. She is also an adjunct professor of international law and human rights at NYU's Global Affairs Program.  

Related Reading -
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Passing the Test
Spring 2012, "Speaking in Tongues"
Across Europe, countries are passing laws requiring foreign spouses to possess language skills before joining their husbands or wives—creating ever more challenging barriers. James Angelos details the challenges facing Europe’s marriage immigrants, showing how these linguistic hurdles break families apart and alienate migrants in their new homes.

Faiths’ Fault Lines - Turkey: Byzantine Reflections
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World Policy Journal examines the forces—both religious and secular—that have opened fault lines between communities and religions. John Chryssavgis, an Orthodox cleric, writes from Istanbul about the Eastern Orthodox Church and tensions with the Muslim nation that dominates its homeland.

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Winter 2011/12, "Faith"
Germany first invited Turkish guest workers into its country over 50 years ago. Today, German Turks hold key positions contributing in politics, media, culture, sports, and business. Now, Deborah Steinborn says, if Germany doesn’t start treating its Turkish population better, it risks losing the country’s youngest, most ambitious talent to a resurgent Turkey.

A Self-Appointed Superpower
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Winter 2010-11, "Megalopolis"
At the close of the 20th century, Turkey became a candidate for membership in the European Union. Ten years later, its nose still pressed against the glass, Turkey is changing domestic and foreign policies, but no longer to win friends in Europe. Today, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is defining Turkey as a country that is as much Middle Eastern as European. Through improved economic relations with neighbors once considered enemies, Ankara has raised its stature on the international stage--at the expense of its bid to join the EU.

CODA: So Europe Ends at the Bosporus?
Summer 2010, "Global Health"
What makes a bloc like the European Union thrive? Or even function? Or, more fitting for these times—does it even function? Editor David A. Andelman looks at Turkey, its unlikely future in the EU, its turn toward the Middle East, and the potentially bright future of newly emerging blocs from Africa to Asia.

About the Sponsors

The World Policy Institute, a non-partisan global think tank, engages fresh ideas and new voices from around the world to address critical shared challenges. WPI's Fellows program, regular public and private events, policy development, media activities, and flagship World Policy Journal provide a forum for solution-focused policy analysis and debate. It seeks and promotes policy solutions in support of an inclusive and sustainable global market economy, effective global governance, and broadened security strategies.
  
The Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) is an independent non-governmental think-tank, analyzing social, political and economic policy issues facing Turkey. Based in Istanbul, TESEV was founded in 1994 to serve as a bridge between academic research and policy-making process in Turkey. By opening new channels for policy-oriented dialogue and research, TESEV aims to promote the role of civil society in the democratic process and seeks to share its research findings with the widest possible audience.

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