19 January 2011
Istanbul: ESI seminar for its new EU-Turkey fellows
Seminar session. Photo: ESI
Seminar session. Photo: ESI

Between 19 and 22 January 2011, ESI organised in Istanbul an introductory seminar for its six new EU-Turkey fellows. The fellows will help implement the project "A changing Turkey and a critical Europe", which is funded by the EU. During the seminar, the fellows were acquainted with ESI's work and staff, discussed the project and their tasks, and met a range of Turkey experts.

With this project, ESI aims to deepen understanding of contemporary Turkey in five enlargement-sceptical EU countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The aim will be pursued with the help of a new attractive Turkey website with the most important reports and texts translated into French and German; a new book with ESI's major Turkey reports (in English, German and French) that will be disseminated to decision-makers and opinion leaders across Europe; two rounds of debates in the five countries, in the spring and in the autumn of 2011, as well as updated "Enlargement Manuals" and tailor-made information targeting the relevant key people in the five countries.

Each fellow is based in one of the five countries, with a sixth living in Istanbul. The fellows will monitor the internal debates on Turkey in their countries, producing "chronologies" documenting them. They will also help organise the public debates on Turkey, organise effective outreach and update the manuals. The idea is to create a network of like-minded people who will continue to exchange information on the Turkey debate in the EU after the project.

During the seminar, ESI chairman Gerald Knaus, ESI's Turkey analysts and a number of Turkish experts briefed the fellows on the major transformations that Turkey has undergone in recent years. The guest speakers included university professors Kemal Kirisci and Hakan Yilmaz, the journalist and commentator Mustafa Akyol, Hugh Pope, Director for Turkey/Cyprus at the International Crisis Group, as well as Michael Thumann, correspondent of the German weekly Die Zeit.

Mustafa Akyol with seminar participants. Photo: ESI
Mustafa Akyol with seminar participants. Photo: ESI

The debates covered all burning issues in contemporary Turkey, from the state of Turkey's democracy to Turkey's dynamic foreign policy, Turkish-Armenian relations and Turkey-EU relations; from the role of women to the "Islamic Calvinists", a new class of entrepreneurs from Anatolia; as well as the "deep state", the role of the military and the trials related to the alleged terror network Ergenekon. Since 2004, when it opened its Istanbul office, ESI has researched and published analyses of most of these topics.

The fellows had the opportunity to present their first findings on the Turkey debate in the EU country that they cover. They discussed the immigration debates, and the role played by the media as well as that by certain politicians and key personalities that manage to hijack the debate.

Peter Widmann showing a cover page of Focus, a German weekly political magazine. Photo: ESI
Peter Widmann showing a cover page of Focus, a German weekly political magazine. Photo: ESI

The fellows: Matthias Bernold, freelance journalist and author in Vienna; Marjanne de Haan, programme manager at the Turkish Institute in The Hague; Olivier Ruchet, lecturer at the French University College Sciences-Po (Fondation National des Sciences Politiques); Dominik Tolksdorf, lecturer at Vesalius College Brussels; Peter Widmann, German guest lecturer at Bilgi University in Istanbul; Natasha Wunsch, resident fellow at DGAP in Berlin (German Council on Foreign Relations).

ESI's EU-Turkey fellows, left to right: Peter Widmann, Matthias Bernold, Marjanne de Haan, Olivier Ruchet, Dominik Tolksdorf, Natasha Wunsch
ESI's EU-Turkey fellows, left to right: Peter Widmann, Matthias Bernold, Marjanne de Haan, Olivier Ruchet, Dominik Tolksdorf, Natasha Wunsch

EC ESI

An ESI project supported by the European Commission

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Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com