Gengeşiyên Polîtîkaya Derveyî ya Tirkiyê

October 19, 2009

Foreign Policy of Turkey - debated
Istanbul, Nippon Hotel
19.10.2009, 14.30-19.30 pm
The Heinrich Böll Stiftung Turkey Representation wants to start a new program on diverse aspects of Turkey’s foreign policy. Since years we repeatedly observe a debate on Turkey’s foreign policy which is shaped by nearly the same questions and ideological premises. Interestingly enough, the arguments and stereotypes used in the discourse on Turkey’s foreign are nearly the same inside and outside of Turkey.

On the one hand, the discourse is structured by the question if Turkey is conducting an active foreign policy or not. In the same stream of the discourse then, the question is raised in how far Turkey is operating in the frame of its membership of international organizations like NATO or more along national interests that might differ from NATO or transatlantic interests.

On the other hand, we are faced with the repeatedly posed question if Turkey might able to fulfil a certain role as a bridge between East and West in conflict resolution processes and negotiations in neighbouring regions, especially the Middle East and Iran. Arguments around this part of the discourse are the geostrategic location of Turkey, its historical past and the fact that a majority of the population is Muslim.

Finally, the debate focuses on the repeatedly argued model that Turkey could play in the Muslim world, due to its secular character and experience with the AKP-government.

What is rarely debated, and will be of concern in our program on Turkey’s foreign policy are the following questions:

What are the parameters that are underlying the foreign policy of Turkey? Does Turkey perceive foreign policy merely as an instrument to increase its political weight in the region? Does Turkey try to draw strength and political rent out of its geopolitical role in its negotiations with international organisations such as EU or NATO? Are these the “national” interests behind Turkey’s foreign policy or what are there other elements that shape its national interests?
In how far are Turkey’s relations with other countries motivated and driven by the wish to contribute to democratisation, protection and promotion of human rights? Are there any criteria for Turkey’s foreign policy in this direction?
Is it realistic to change the actors in negotiations or add an actor to the negotiations such as Turkey without changing the policy? Or, in other words, how serious is the debate on behalf of the EU/USA concerning a possible role of Turkey in the Near and Middle East, Iran?
Finally, what is the perception in the countries, where Turkey is designed to play a more active role? What are the expectations from the countries in the region towards a more pro-active role of Turkey?
We will start our program with three meetings in Berlin, Istanbul, and Brussels. The aim of this program is on the one hand to incite a debate about values and ethics in foreign policy as well as to question European and transatlantic approaches towards Turkey’s possible role, as we cannot deny the impression of ambiguity and sometimes missing seriousness on behalf of international actors.

We would like to invite you to participate at our Round Table meeting to be held in Istanbul, 19.10.2009, 14.30 - 19.30 pm, Nippon Hotel, Topcu Cad. 10, Taksim-Istanbul. During the meeting, three speakers will give an input in order to open up the debate with you.

The result of the debates during the meetings will be published afterwards and shape the follow up meetings to be organized in the years 2010 and 2011. The meeting will be held in English only in order to secure a fluent debate.
After the meeting, we would like you to invite you to join us for dinner in the Nippon Hotel.
Below you will find the program of this meeting.

We would be very happy if we could welcome you at our meeting.

Please reconfirm your participation to Yonca Verdioglu ( or by phone 249 15 545).

Yours sincerely


Dr. Ulrike Dufner
Director, Turkey Representation
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Round Table Meeting: (only for invited persons)
Foreign Policy of Turkey in the Middle East:
Ethics, Interests, Aims

Date: October 19, 2009
Location: Nippon Hotel, Topcu Cad. 10, Taksim-Istanbul


At this meeting we want to debate the following questions:

a) What are the guiding principles of Turkey’s foreign policy in the Middle East?

b) In how far can we detect a new foreign policy of Turkey in the last years?

c) How is Turkey’s foreign policy perceived in the Middle East?

d) Is it realistic to change the actors without changing the politics in the region: In how far can Turkey or any other country contribute to the peace process as long as there are no new proposals on the table?

e) How do the EU/USA evaluate Turkey’s role in the Middle East in the last years?

f) What are the concepts of EU/USA in the Middle East and where do they see Turkey’s role?

Foreign Policy of Turkey in the Middle East:
Ethics, Interests, Aims

14.30 – 15.00:
Welcome and Short Introduction
Speakers: Marc Berthold/Ulrike Dufner, Heinrich Böll Foundation Berlin-İstanbul

15.00 - 16.30:
Turkey’s policy as perceived from the Middle East – one more actor – no new concepts?
Speaker: Paul Salem Direktor of Carnegie Middle East Center, Beirut (tbc)

16.30 – 18.00:
Turkey’s recent foreign policy in the Middle East: Policy without principles?
Speaker: Cengiz Çandar, Journalist, Turkey

18.00 - 19.30:
EU/USA: What role for Turkey in its foreign policy towards the Middle East?
Speaker: Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, Washington DC

Moderation: Ulrike Dufner, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Turkey Representative


Language: English