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Public Lecture and Debate

Exchanges on the Middle East II: Turkey and the Middle East

Thursday 14 September 2017
Free to visit, registration required
Humanity House
Prinsegracht 8
2512 GA Den Haag

Exchanges on the Middle East: Turkey and the Middle East

While Turkey has long conceived of itself as a bridge between Asia and Europe, it also fostered ambitions to be a central player in regional and global affairs. In recent years, which were marked by conflicts and instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Turkey has sought to deepen its influence and power in the region. This public lecture and debate will explore the background of Turkey’s national, regional and international political strategies regarding the MENA region. This event is organized by LUCIS and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Open to all!

No admission fee, but registration is required: REGISTER HERE

Moderator | Erik-Jan Zürcher

Professor of Turkish Studies at the University of Leiden. Author of seminal books on the modern history of Turkey, amongst which his authoritative handbook Turkey. A modern history (newest edition I.B. Tauris 2017).  His prime research interest focusses on the period of transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey (roughly: 1880-1950) and on the role of the Young Turk generation/movement in this process.


Soner Çağaptay | The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. He has written extensively on U.S.-Turkish relations, Turkish domestic politics, and Turkish nationalism, publishing in scholarly journals and major international print media, including the Wall Street JournalWashington PostNew York TimesJane's Defense WeeklyForeign AffairsAtlanticNew Republic, and Newsweek Türkiye. He has been a regular columnist for Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey's oldest and most influential English-language paper, and a contributor to CNN's Global Public Square blog. He appears regularly on Fox News, CNN, NPR, Voice of America, BBC, and CNN-Turk.

A historian by training, Dr. Cagaptay wrote his doctoral dissertation at Yale University (2003) on Turkish nationalism. Dr. Cagaptay has taught courses at Yale, Princeton University, Georgetown University, and Smith College on the Middle East, Mediterranean, and Eastern Europe. His spring 2003 course on modern Turkish history was the first offered by Yale in three decades. From 2006-2007, he was Ertegun Professor at Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies.

Dr. Cagaptay is the recipient of numerous honors, grants, and chairs, among them the Smith-Richardson, Mellon, Rice, and Leylan fellowships, as well as the Ertegun chair at Princeton. He has also served on contract as chair of the Turkey Advanced Area Studies Program at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute. In 2012 he was named an American Turkish Society Young Society Leader.

Amberin Zaman | Journalist

Amberin Zaman is a Turkish journalist and researcher who has covered Turkey, the Kurds and regional conflicts for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Telegraph of London. Between 1999 and 2016 she was the Turkey correspondent for The Economist

Since 2016 she has been based in Washington DC where she writes a regular column for the online news portal Al Monitor and the independent Turkish news portal Diken.

Exchanges on the Middle East: Turkey and the Middle East | Public lectures and debate

In the decades following World War II Turkey focused primarily on its relations with Europe, while following a non-intervention policy with respect to the turmoils in the Middle East. After 2007, President Erdoğan’s Turkey, inspired by Ahmet Davutoğlu’s “Strategic Depth” concept, gradually appeared to loosen its focus on Europe and attempted to increase its influence in the MENA region. After the Arab Uprisings, Turkey was considered as a role model for the MENA region by some, yet these expectations were shortlived. Since two years, Turkey seems to have abandoned the “strategic depth” policy, replacing it with a more pragmatic policy. Turkey’s role in the MENA region is challenged by other regional powers such as Iran, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as by the increasing international standing of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq. Discussion of this topic, therefore, remains of paramount importance for our understanding of current and future developments in the region. We invite our speakers to react to and comment on the following questions from their own experience and expertise:

  • How can Turkey’s policy changes be interpreted and positioned?
  • How do the MENA countries respond to Turkey’s changing political focus?
  • To what extent are the Kurds challenging Turkey’s position in the region?
About Exchanges on the Middle East

Exchanges on the Middle East is a collaboration between the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS), and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs North Africa and Middle East Department.

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