Reading Turkey – Scared in Azerbaijan – White List Project Update

8 June 2011


Turkey's decision 2011 Turkey's decision 2011 Turkey's decision 2011

Turkey's decision 2011


Dear friends,

While Turkey's political leaders hit the campaign trail, ESI has organized a series of recent events to explain the current transformation taking place in Anatolia to audiences across Europe and the US: at Carnegie in Washington (on Trials, Tribulations, and other Crises in Turkey); at CERI in Paris (on Christians, Kurds and the State of Turkish Democracy); at Harvard (on Turkey's Minorities and the Deep State); at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin (on Politics and the Future of the Turkish Constitution); at the British Embassy in Vienna (on the state of Turkish democracy); with the Turkey Institute in Amsterdam (on Turkish politics on the eve of the elections); with OSI at an event for senior EU policy makers in Brussels

You can watch the events in Paris and Berlin (in German) as videos or listen to the presentations in DC as an audio file.

Kerem Oktem Umit Cizre Osman Can Amberin Zaman Henri Barkey Orhan Kemal Cengiz

Kerem Oktem – Umit Cizre – Osman Can – Amberin Zaman – Henri Barkey – Orhan Kemal Cengiz

For those interested in Turkey we recommend the books and articles of all those who joined us at these recent debates as panelists – a genuine Who-is-who of Turkey experts:

  • Henri Barkey is a visiting scholar in the Carnegie Middle East Program. He most recently published an overview on "The Road to Turkey's June Elections".
  • Osman Can is a writer, law professor and former reporting judge at the Turkish constitutional court. In 2010 he was selected as Lawyer of the Year by the Turkish Jurists' association. He has his own website (in Turkish).
  • Orhan Kemal Cengiz is a leading human rights defender in Turkey and regular columnist. His most recent columns are on his Facebook page.
  • Umit Cizre (Istanbul Sehir University) is a leading Turkish expert on civil-military relations. She was also the editor of the first TESEV Almanac on Civil-Military relations in 2006, a must read for anybody who is interested in this crucial issue.
  • Kerem Oktem (Oxford University) is the author of Angry Nation, a newly published book on contemporary Turkey and the country's erratic transformation from a military semi-dictatorship to a maturing, if still troubled, democracy.
  • Amberin Zaman is a writer and The Economist Turkey correspondent based in Istanbul. Her articles can be found on her Facebook page.

For more Turkey analysis please also go to the most recent publication by the European Council on Foreign Relations: What Does Turkey Think? As Dimitar Bechev writes in the introduction:

"Turkey is now an actor, an economic pole, and perhaps an aspiring regional hegemon – or "order setter" (düzen kurucu). The paradox is that in the process Turkey has also become more like us: globalised, economically liberal and democratic. As the American television presenter Charlie Rose recently put it: "Turkey doesn't want to go east or west; it wants to go up."

Oil, democracy and belonging to Europe Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal. Photo:

Oil, democracy and belonging to Europe - Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal. Photo:

European Azerbaijan: still running scared?

In recent years the Caucasian republic of Azerbaijan, independent since 1991, has experienced both rapid economic change and growing political repression. As the recent victory of a couple from Baku in the Eurovision Song Contest –with a song called "Running scared" – reminded an audience of 120 million viewers, Azerbaijan is indeed in Europe; it also joined the Council of Europe one decade ago, committing itself to European values and norms.

With oil and gas revenues skyrocketing, Azerbaijan's capital Baku is in the grips of a feverish construction boom. At the same time, European governments, the US and international organisations – including the Council of Europe, Europe's oldest intergovernmental club of democracies – have failed to address increasing repression.

A new ESI report Generation Facebook in Baku – Adnan, Emin and the Future of Dissent in Azerbaijan (15 March 2011) looks at how some young Azerbaijanis have managed to rattle the regime … reminding themselves, and the rest of the world, that even in this corner of Europe, sandwiched between Putin's Russia and Ahmadinejad's Iran, there are those who believe in the right of democratic protest and freedom of speech.

Our aim is to raise the profile of this young state on the Caspian Sea; and to support the vision that Azerbaijan will also one day (soon) also join the club of genuine European democracies. (The Generation Facebook report is also available in Azeri: Bakıdakı Facebook nəsli. Adnan, Emin və Azərbaycanda dissidentliyin gələcəyi)

From now until next year's Eurovision final in Baku we will also update this website section with regular news on the state of Azerbaijani democracy and human rights – under the heading No longer running scared? The first update you find here.


Arguing for visa liberalization for Turkey: Giuliano Amato the European Court of Justice

Arguing for visa liberalization for Turkey: Giuliano Amato – the European Court of Justice

Turkey White List Project

As part of ESI's ongoing Schengen White List Project we recently organised a meeting in Istanbul to discuss the road towards visa liberalisation for Turkey. The meeting was chaired by ESI White List Project advisory board chairman Giuliano Amato.

As was the case in the Western Balkans recently, we believe that only once EU member states realise that it is in the security interest of the EU to offer Turkey a roadmap process is this likely to happen. This is all the more true in light of current concerns about the effects of freedom of movement in key EU capitals.

ESI is convinced that a strong case can be made, however; and that once Turkey meets all roadmap conditions, visa liberalisation would indeed be in the EU interest, with Turkey a very important partner in increasing Europe's collective security. At the same time, as we wrote in A very special relationship. Why Turkey's EU accession process will continue, the issue of visa could reverse an unhealthy dynamic of rising distrust between the EU and Turkey.

Turks often (rightly) point to a series of recent European court decisions, including the famous 2009 Soysal decision which held that many Turks have a legal right to visa free access to the EU as a result of the Turkey-EU Association Agreement. For more on this please visit our special website section.


Cover Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty Der Islam-Irrtum Arab Spring

Cover "Image of the bad Muslim" – July 2011 – June 2011 – Arab Spring

European Islam, fears and hopes (Vienna event on 10 June)

This week ESI – together with Erste Foundation and Austrian Public Radio – is organising a public debate in Vienna on European Islam and Muslim neighbours – Fears and Opportunities (10 June at 7pm in Vienna).  

At a moment of difficult EU-Turkish relations, rising Islamophobia in some European countries and dramatic events in the Arab world we explore one of the central questions of European politics with:

Mustafa Akyol - Turkish political commentator based in Istanbul, Turkey, author of forthcoming Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty (July 2011), Sibylle Hamann - Austrian political commentar based in Vienna, author of Weissbuch Frauen / Schwarzbuch Männer: Warum wir einen neuen Geschlechtervertrag brauchen (White book women/Black book men: why we need a new gender contract) (2008), Zeynep Goknil Sanal - Capital City Women's Platform in Ankara, Turkey, and Michael Thumann - Die Zeit Turkey and Middle East correspondent, author of Der Islam Irrtum – Europas Angst vor der muslimischen Welt (The Islam Error: Europe's Fear of the Muslim World) (June 2011).

If you are able and interested to come RSVP by phone: +43 1 50170377.


Harvard Tunis Paris Belgrade

ESI in Harvard – Tunis – Paris – Belgrade

Analysts in action

ESI analysts have also presented other research recently in Europe, the US and Africa. You can watch ESI senior analyst Minna Jarvenpaa speak on Afghanistan at the US Institute of Peace in Washington.

Other presentations took place in Stanford (on the compatibility of democracy and stability in transitional societies from Eastern Europe to the Middle East), at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (on policy analysis and fashionable ideas of European decline), in Tunis (on building a Tunisian think tank), in Belgrade (on the new Turkish foreign policy in the Western Balkans), and again, most recently, in Washington (on international interventions and lessons from Bosnia).

ESI's work is also being highlighted in a series of study tours in Turkey and the Caucasus. The tours have been designed and created by Political Tours, a study tour company established by Nicholas Wood, former New York Times correspondent and then ESI analyst. ESI analysts Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere and Piotr Zalewski are running a tour later in the year that looks at the relations between government and the Kurds. ESI work in Georgia is featured in another tour in Georgia. Ketevan Tsikhelashvili, who conducted ESI's research there, is leading the tour alongside Oxford professor of International Relations, Neil MacFarlane. As well as the Balkans and Caucasus, Nicholas's company is running tours to North Korea, Egypt and Scotland. All tours combine briefings with leading commentators, politicians, and international officials. For more information please contact Nicholas Wood by e-mail:


In the media

Murder in Anatolia. Christian missionaries and Turkish ultranationalism

Our report on Murder in Anatolia. Christian missionaries and Turkish ultranationalism was covered widely in the international press. Austrian national Radio featured ESI, our history and the way we work, in a special edition from Istanbul. Other recent media coverage of ESI:

Many best wishes to all of you from a (politically) hot Istanbul,

Gerald Knaus