10 March 2011
Seminar at the British Embassy in Vienna: Turkey and the European Union
View of Galata, Istanbul. Photo: Alan Grant
View of Galata, Istanbul. Photo: Alan Grant

ESI and the British Embassy in Austria organized a seminar for Austrian opinion makers, politicians and journalists to discuss the Turkish EU accession process, the challenges regarding Turkey's transformation as well as the Turkish experience in light of recent political developments in the Arab world.

Speakers included Orhan Kemal Cengiz, one of Turkey's most prominent human rights lawyers, Nazlan Ertan, a former journalist and columnist who joined the government to work as the director for civil society, communications and culture at the Secretariat General for EU affairs in Ankara, Gerald Knaus, ESI chairman, and Nigar Göksel, ESI senior analyst.

One of the speakers, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, reported on the event for Today's Zaman, quoting ESI's Gerald Knaus:

"I wonder whether Turkey's leaders are aware just how dramatic the shift is which is occurring among Turkey's supporters in Europe. I just spent a few days in Istanbul and Ankara as part of a delegation from the European Council on Foreign Relations, meeting many people, from President [Abdullah] Gül to NGO activists, from TUSKON [Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists] to the Foreign Ministry. This was before the arrests on Friday, but already there was some confusion and uncertainty among these Turkey observers from across Europe concerning the path of its democratization, a confusion that stood in stark contrast to the situation even a year ago. Then, on Friday, people were shocked by the news of the arrests. These are, importantly, friends of Turkey; advocates of its European accession, not Islamophobic Europeans with militarist sympathies. People are asking if they have been betting on the wrong horse, giving Turkey, the prosecutors and the government the benefit of the doubt."

The seminar was also reported on in the Austrian media: