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Lecture | LUCIS What's New?! Series

Turkey and the Soviet Union during World War II

Thursday 12 March 2020
Free to visit, drinks after
What's New?! Spring Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Based on recently disclosed archival documents in Turkish, Russian, German and English, Onur Isci's book details diplomatic relations between Turkey and the Soviet Union between the years 1936 and 1947. After a long history of imperial conflict, successors to the Russian and Ottoman Empires were united in shared opposition to the Western dictated international order and developed a strong partnership between the two world wars.

Beginning with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, however, relations between Ankara and Moscow plunged to several degrees below zero, as Ottoman-era Russophobia began to take hold in Turkish elite circles. For the Russians, hostility was based on long-term apathy stemming from the enormous German investment in the Ottoman Empire; for the Turks, on the fear of Russian territorial ambitions. Onur İşçi’s book offers a new interpretation of how Russian foreign policy drove Turkey into peculiar neutrality in the Second World War, and eventually into NATO. Onur Isci argues that this was a great reversal of Ataturk-era policies and that it was the burden of history, not realpolitik, that caused the move to the west during the Second World War.

About Onur İşçi

Onur İşçi is an assistant professor of international relations at Bilkent University in Ankara and serves as the director of Bilkent’s Center for Russian Studies. He received his PhD from Georgetown University with distinction in 2014. Dr İşçi specializes in the histories of Russia, Turkey and the two countries’ relationship from the late imperial period to the present day. At Bilkent, he teaches Diplomatic History and Turkish Foreign Policy at the undergraduate level and offers two doctoral colloquia on Russian-Turkish relations and the international history of the Cold War. Dr İşçi is the author of two books and various articles that appeared in leading academic journals, including Kritika, Russian History and the Journal of Contemporary History. His next book project explores Turkey and its world during the Cold War.

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