In 2018, PODEM organized meetings within the scope of its areas of research such as “Societal Dialogue and Regional Inequalities”, “Migration Studies”, “Middle East and North Africa Studies” and “Turkey and Europe”. In addition to publishing research reports and policy briefs, PODEM contributed to other publications as well. The Annual Report is comprised of all activities carried out in 2018 and gives brief information on our prospective projects for 2019-2020 period.
PODEM is an independent think tank established in February 2015 in Istanbul. At PODEM, we analyze, through fteldwork research, domestic and foreign policy issues and signiftcant social and political challenges that emerge in Turkey and its immediate vicinity and develop policy recommendations informed by research ftndings.
We share these policy recommendations with the public and relevant political and societal actors. Our aims are to create synergies between governments, public sector organisations, and civil society, and to contribute to reform processes and policymaking efforts.
In February 2019, PODEM turned four. Over these past few years, we grew into an effective think tank with a diversed range of partnerships, an expansive program of work, a solid base of staff and expert talent, and a strengthening ftnancial structure. PODEM’s credibility and visibility as an independent and influential think tank enhanced both at home and abroad.
Having succesfully held partnership roles in comprehensive research projects from the very early days of its establishment, PODEM now leverages that experience by leading international research consortia and programs. Throughout, we remained committed to maintaining an unbiased perspective in our efforts to influence and inform the public and policymakers.
Our plan for this upcoming term is to continue our projects by focusing on the following areas of work and ensuring that our work reaches all sections of society and policymakers far and wide:
- Turkey and Europe
- Societal Dialogue and Regional Inequalities
- Judiciary, Justice and Law Studies
- Migration Studies
- Social Perception Studies
- Foreign Policy
Societal Dialogue and Regional Inequalities
The Role of Business in Societal Dialogue and Regional Development
In collaboration with the Berghof Foundation, we fostered dialogue platforms bringing business actors from Turkey’s east and west together in 2018. Our efforts were aimed at analyzing long-lived social, political, economic and cultural challenges in eastern and southeastern Turkey, comparing Turkey’s experience to similar experiences elsewhere, and at creating an environment for open discussion on resolving these issues. The objectives we pursued through our activities were to discuss how to overcome regional inequalities according to socioeconomic conditions and expectations, to analyze the contemporary dynamics of the Kurdish issue, and to work with the business community and civil society to generate policy proposals and to contribute to societal dialogue.
As part of the project, we held meetings in Turkey and abroad to discuss successful cases of regional and local governance from cities in Turkey and countries around the world that deal with equally challenging political and economic processes and also suffer from regional inequalities. In these meetings, we engaged with the participants in a conversation around possible solutions and generated proposals that respond to Turkey’s speciftc challenges.
Heads of chambers of commerce and industry, business leaders from western and particularly eastern Turkey, policymakers, international NGOs, and regional inequalities and development experts contributed to our work.
In 2018, we convened two meetings in total, one in Istanbul and another in Mardin and organized a study visit to London and Belfast.
Challenges for Economic Growth and Regional Development in Politically Volatile Times
We convened economy experts and business people around a workshop in Istanbul on 19 April 2018 to discuss the impacts of recent political and social challenges and the resulting economic uncertainty on Turkey’s overall and regional economic performance and regional development goals.
- Reviewing successful cases of regional development and societal dialogue from other countries that have faced similar challenges in the past to develop suggestions for Turkey,
- Discussing models for economic programs and plans to incentivize regional development in Turkey,
- Recognizing that the balance between the public/private sector presence in eastern and southeastern Turkey should be a focus area in economic analyses,
- Acknowledging the need for activities that bring together different civil society actors,
- Overcoming the differences within the business community by converging around a common purpose is signiftcant and,
- Recognizing the need for research to analyze the negative impact of conflict
were the key takeaways from our workshop.
United Kingdom (London and Belfast)
We carried out a study tour in London and Belfast on 26-30 June 2018.
The main objective for this study visit was to observe the role of business in conflict transformation and the establishment of societal dialogue and peace in the case of the Northern Ireland Peace Process and through other-country cases. In London and Belfast, we carried out several meetings and exchanges that were focused on the roles of the economy, business and civil society in peace processes.
Highlights from the Study Tour
- Recognizing the need for further dialogue work that brings together diverse civil society groups and contributes to building awareness among all sections of society regarding societal demands and expectations,
- Drawing on past experiences, acknowledging the importance and the necessity of all sides of the conflict to concretely and objectively come to terms with the past,
- Acknowledging the critical importance of the business community’s coming together around a dialogue platform that also represents many different social actors to identify a common purpose, and of maintaining decisiveness and a unifted stance around core principles throughout the peace process,
- Noting the importance of fostering a dialogue platform for civil society actors to come together around a common purpose as well,
- Recognizing that in inclusive engagements, pursuing constructive dialogue between civil society and decision-makers calls for an effort from all concerned parties,
- Highlighting the need to create and protect a dialogue platform that facilitates collaboration among all political and social actors involved in the process.
Societal Dialogue and Socioeconomic Development in light of Recent Developments in Turkey
Within the scope of our activities with the business community, we organized a meeting on 5 October 2018 in Mardin. With the majority of its participants representing businesses in Turkey’s east and southeast, this meeting featured discussions on the examples of and proposals for the role of business in enabling societal dialogue and improvement socioeconomic conditions.
Notes from the Meeting
Participants highlighted the signiftcance of meetings, workshops and publications that focus on the role of business in addressing socioeconomic inequalities and urged for the continuation of such efforts with the involvement of more stakeholders and for their outcomes to be shared with broader sections of the society. The meeting focused on regional inequalities and regional development perspectives, and some of the discussions also touched on the potential for these regions to contribute to socioeconomic development, in partnership with the public sector and international organizations. To this end, we noted the importance and necessity of an enabling political environment for the business community to support socioeconomic development.
Middle East and North Africa Studies
A Comprehensive, Integrated, and Bottom-Up Approach to Reset Our Understanding of the Mediterranean Space
PODEM carried out comprehensive research in 9 countries (Morocco, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey) to understand how Mediterranean countries perceive the European Union’s (EU) current position towards them in response to recent political, economic and social developments. Our research as part of MEDRESET, a consortium supported by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Program, offers a critical perspective on EU’s challenges in generating policy responses to the fast changing political, social and economic dynamics in the post-Arab Spring Mediterranean and on the Union’s perceived securitized policies. With this study, we aim to encourage the EU to reconsider its strategic priorities and policies that govern its relationship with the Mediterranean countries. Throughout the research project, we engaged with diverse stakeholders to unpack the region’s political, economic and social perspectives towards the EU and the internal dynamics of various countries in the region. We aim for the country-speciftc reports and analysis produced through this project to inform the public opinion in Europe and Turkey and to support the work of policymakers and subject-matter experts.
Our research team including consortium members from the Beirut-based The Arab Studies Institute-Research and Education Methologies (ASI-REM) carried out fteld research in the countries listed above and conducted 169 in-depth interviews between July 2017 and May 2018.
We prepared country- speciftc reports that share ftndings from this fteldwork and from interviews with academics, policymakers, public servants, civil society representatives and business people, and also offer rich insights into each country’s political, social and economic issues and expectations.
All of our country reports were compiled and published as a book in 2019 by Peter Lang Publishing. We aim to present our joint work as a research team to stakeholders in Turkey and abroad, targeting EU officials and policymakers in particular.
The Remaking of the Euro-Mediterranean Vision: Challenging Eurocentrism with Local Perceptions in the Middle East and North Africa
Edited by: Aybars Görgülü, Gülşah Dark
Country-specific reports included in the publication:
EGYPT: “Egyptian Elite’s Views on Egypt, and its Relations with the EU”
Author: The Arab Studies Institute-Research and Education Methologies (ASI-REM)
IRAN: “EU–Iran Relations: Iranian Perceptions and European Policy”
Author: David Ramin Jalilvand
LEBANON: “Lebanese Elite’s Views on Lebanon, and its Relations with the EU”
Author: Karina Goulordava and The Arab Studies Institute-Research and Education Methologies (ASI-REM)
MOROCCO: ‘’Revisiting the Role of the EU in the Neighbourhood: Moroccan Elite Perceptions on the EU and its Policy Impact in the Mediterranean”
Authors: Omar Iharchane, Gülşah Dark, Samir Bennis, Zeynep Gülöz Bakır
QATAR: ‘’Towards a Viable EU–Gulf Engagement: Qatari Perceptions of the EU and Its Policies in the Region”
Author: Aybars Görgülü
S. ARABIA: “Saudi Arabia’s Relations with the EU and Its Perception of EU Policies in MENA”
Author: Sabiha Senyücel Gündoğar
TUNISIA: “An Outlook on Tunisian Elite Stakeholders’ Perspectives on the EU and Its Policy Preferences in Tunisia and the Mediterranean”
Authors: Patrick P. Parks, Zeynep Gülöz Bakır
ISRAEL: ‘’Israel, the EU, and the Mediterranean: Understanding the Perceptions of Israeli Elite Actors”
Authors: Nimrod Goren, Eyal Ronen, Emir Bayburt
TURKEY: “Attitudes Towards the EU and its Presence in the Mediterranean: Perceptions of Elite Actors in Turkey”
Author: Gülşah Dark
EU Seen from the Outside: Local Elite Perceptions on the Role and Effectiveness of the EU in the Mediterranean Region
Author: Gülşah Dark
Elite Survey: How Local Elites Perceive the EU and its Policies in the Mediterranean
- It was reported that the national interests and policies prioritized by EU member states towards Mediterranean countries took precedence over EU-level priorities and the Union fell short of creating a comprehensive policy for the Mediterranean region.
- The EU is not perceived as an effective political and military force by countries in the Rather, impressions of the EU are constructed around its economic, commercial and developmental activities.
- The current scale of the migrant crisis seems to have intensifted the EU’s securitized policies towards the These policies are widely perceived as contradictory to the values that the EU upholds, with regards to democracy and human rights. It becomes apparent that the EU will not be able to exert a positive and long-term influence on democracy in the region.
- Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, unlike their North African counterparts, manage their relationships with the EU through bilateral exchanges with individual member states or via international platforms such as the Gulf Cooperation These countries perceive the EU primarily along economic and commercial lines.
- Recent developments around the Gulf crisis, the Iran nuclear deal and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have led to the perception that Iran and Qatar would be looking to develop closer ties with the EU.
- Experts in Israel believe that the EU cannot be an effective actor in the region only through providing ftnancial resources. In addition, they assert that while the EU is a strategic ally for Israel in the region, Europe’s stance on the Palestinian issue hinders political alignment between the two actors.
- Compared to other Mediterranean countries covered by this research, Turkey’s relationship with the EU is more dynamic due to Turkey’s ongoing accession process. That said, Turkey’s public opinion towards the EU looks negative by virtue of the volatile nature of this very process.
- Active cooperation between Turkey and the EU in the areas of Syrian refugee crisis and the Customs Union is seen as critically important.
On 14 December 2018, we organized a conference at Istanbul Marmara University entitled, “Re-thinking Euro-Mediterranean Relations in a Changing Regional and Global Setting”. Opening remarks were delivered by the Head of EU Delegation to Turkey, Ambassador Christian Berger, at this conference which brought together experts from Europe, Middle East and North Africa, and Turkey as well as academics, graduate and postgraduate students. The conference focused on EU-Mediterranean relations in light of current political and economic developments and enabled discussions on the refugee and migrant crisis that has been signiftcantly affecting the EU and the Mediterranean recently.
We organized a workshop attended by project participants only. This meeting, held in Istanbul on 14 December 2018, featured general updates on past project activities and a review of plans for future project activities.
We attended the “Resetting Euro-Mediterranean Relations” conference, organized as part of MEDRESET, at the University of Beirut on 4 June 2018. Key ftndings from the project’s fteldwork were shared with members of the EU Delegation to Lebanon, and relevant civil society members and academics.
Following on from the conference on 4 June 2018, we joined a workshop on 5 June 2018 in Beirut for project participants to exchange updates on progress and plans for future project activities.
Mapping Geopolitical Shifts, Regional Order and Domestic Transformations
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has, in the past decade since the Arab Spring’s influence pervaded the entire region in 2011 and then subsided gradually, been undergoing a process through which political and social dynamics have shifted and concurrently the regional order changed shape. We are a member of the research consortium, MENARA, supported by European Commission’s Horizon 2020, and therein we aim to analyze current geopolitical shifts in the region, the positioning of regional/global actors and ongoing political and social challenges to offer policy proposals to the EU and the international community that respond to the needs of the region.
As part of this project, we were able to expand our organization’s network by attending and convening meetings that brought together various stakeholders in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition, we aim to carry out future research on the MENA region that could focus on different demographics such as youth and its role in welfare and development.
We coordinated and contributed content for reports that dealt with various themes revealing MENA’s regional dynamics (e.g. Syrian war, Libyan crisis, Palestinian issue, Algeria-Morocco relations). We also conducted fteldwork for reports that look at Turkey’s managing of flows of migrants, and the country’s policies for the social integration of Syrian refugees.
Exploring Refugee Movements in the Middle East Regional Context: Responses to Syrian Crisis in Lebanon and Turkey
Authors: Sabiha Senyücel Gündoğar, Gülşah Dark
Published in English
This chapter forms a part of a broader project report and draws from our fteldwork interviews with Turkey’s migration management and development agency officials, civil society representatives and migration studies experts in Gaziantep and Istanbul, both of which are home to sizeable populations of Syrians. This study offers an overview for the EU and the international community of issues around migration, triggered by the Syrian war, within Turkey’s recent political and social debate, and the current status of the Syrian community in Turkey.
- According to experts we interviewed, steps to enable long-term social integration of Syrians in Turkey especially need to be incentivized.
- Our interviewees believe that constructive policies towards the Syrian community in Turkey are highly regarded and identify a need for multinational studies that yield national and international proposals to policymakers in this At PODEM, we aim to continue our research in the area of migration studies in the coming year.
Research Reports in Our MENARA Work Package
The Mirage of Regionalism in the Middle East and North Africa Post-2011 (2018)
Authors: Rafaella A. Del Sarto, Eduard Soler i Lecha
The Gaza Equation: The Regional Dimension of a Local Conflict.
Authors: Andrea Dessi, Lorenzo Kamel
Regional Powers and The Production of Insecurity in the Middle East. (2018)
Author: Waleed Hazbun
Migration Dynamics in Play in Morocco: Trafficking and Political Relationships and Their Implications at the Regional Level (2018)
Author: Mehdi Lahlou
Jihadist Groups in North Africa and the Sahel: Between Disintegration, Reconfiguration and Resilience. (2018)
Author: Djallil Lounnas
The Libyan Security Continuum: The Impact of the Libyan Crisis on the North African/Sahelian Regional System. (2018)
Author: Djallil Lounnas
The Links Between Jihadi Organizations and Illegal Trafficking in the Sahel. (2018)
Author: Djallil Lounnas
Algeria-Morocco Relations and Their Impact on the Maghrebi Regional System. (2018)
Authors: Djallil Lounnas, Nizar Messari
Refugee Movements in the Middle East: Old Crises, New Ideas.
Author: Shaden Khallaf
The Implications of the Syrian War for new Regional Orders in the Middle East. (2018)
Author: Rahmi G. Khouri
Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: 100 Years of Regional Relevance and International Failure (2018)
Author: Karim Makdisi
- Considering the diminishing influence of the US in the Middle East and the already limited presence of European countries, power struggles between regional and global actors seem to have escalated in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
- War torn countries with failing state infrastructures such as Iraq, Yemen and Syria become arenas of regional and international competition.
- Characterized historically by their thorny relationship, North African states of Morocco and Algeria will continue to influence the balance of power in the Maghreb.
- The international community needs to respond more ftrmly to the humanitarian crisis and rights violations triggered by Syrian civil war.
- A key observation is that the Arab-Israeli conflict is losing its place on the top of agenda and coalitions formed by politically powerful countries and the resulting power balance is taking the center stage instead.
- Non-state actors actors (e.g. militias and terrorist groups) in MENA countries without robust political and military structures begin to acquire political power.
- The intensifying power struggle among countries surrounding the Gulf stands out as a key factor shaping broader regional dynamics.
- MENA collaboration platforms such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League fail to generate policies to restore stability in the region, and bilateral cooperation between these platforms and their individual member states gain increasing importance instead.
- Armed conflict and postwar migration waves considered, it is apparent that human and arms trafficking is on the rise and trafficking becomes a key source of revenue for terrorist groups.
Driving Social and Economic Development in the MENA Region: The Role of International Organizations
We organized an international meeting in Istanbul on 15 November 2018 that brought together international stakeholders to discuss the MENA region’s socio-economic challenges and the impact of responses and activities of international organizations on these challenges. Representatives from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the United Nations Development Program, the EU Delegation to Turkey, Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Directorate for the EU Affairs attended the meeting, which also included experts from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, academics and civil society representatives among its participants.
- National and international organizations active in the MENA region do not have concrete policies to resolve economic and social challenges of the There has been research conducted to assess needs however practical responses fall short of addressing to those needs.
- A new deftnition of civil society that is more inclusive towards various societal actors needs to be developed, and international organizations need to reconsider their existing standards for increasing collaboration with local actors.
- International organizations ought to foster closer working relationships with the public and private sectors.
- There needs to be more studies conducted on areas beyond political themes that can create wider impact, such as youth studies, media freedom, women’s rights and the environment.
Orders and Disorders in the Middle East
We attended the “Orders and Disorders in the Middle East” conference on 18 April 2018 in Budapest. Held at Corvinus University, this conference convened European and MENA experts around conversations on military conflicts that affect the Middle East and North Africa, the roles of non-state actors and refugees/ migrants. We also took in part in a project review meeting held the next day on 19 April 2018.
On 26 October 2018, we took part in a project workshop in Copenhagen. We discussed with MENARA partners the status of project activities and plans for future research and activities.
Turkey and Europe
Informal Turkey – EU Dialogue Towards Better Understanding and Joint Action
We brought representatives from Turkey and the European Union around several meetings that were aimed at creating a dialogue platform to discuss key challenges emerging from the checkered bilateral relations between Turkey, the EU and European member states and to clear up political and technical misunderstandings.
As part of the project, we organized two meetings in 2018 in Istanbul and Ankara. These meetings were closed to members of the press, and our aim was to foster a positive environment where ideas, expectations and views would be shared.
As part of this project, we developed an active relationship with the AK Party’s Foreign Affairs Unit and we also carried out interviews with representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate of EU Affairs, the Presidency and the main opposition party. Following on from these interviews, we invited experts and officials that were to contribute to meetings to join an already- formed dialogue platform with the European Union.
Informal Turkey-EU Dialogue Towards Better Understanding and Joint Action: Ankara and Istanbul Meetings
In meetings we organized on 21 February 2018 in Ankara and on 2 October 2018 in Istanbul, we created an informal platform for debate and communication through which high-level bureaucrats and representatives shared their views on (1) EU- Turkey relations, (2) recent economic and political developments in Turkey, and (3) regional dynamics in Syria and the current status of the Syrian community in Turkey.
- Participants underlined the importance of informal meetings like the ones we convened them around for shrengtening communication and stressed that civil society needs to take steps to continue fostering this dialogue environment.
- Participants from Turkey noticed how much more effective their sharing of Turkey’s current situation with European actors has been on an informal dialogue platform.
- Participants from the European Union reflected on the information pollution in their respective public debates on Turkey’s current affairs and found that they were able to leverage this dialogue platform to ask questions ftrsthand and receive responses directly from the source.
Security and Democracy
Towards Democratic Citizen-Police Relations: Research Within the Police Establishment in Turkey
We carried out comprehensive fteldwork in 2016 for this project, which was supported by Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ankara, focused on police officers serving in various departments around Turkey. Our fteldwork explored the perceptions of police officers towards their service, their understanding of an ‘exemplary policy officer’, and their needs from police education, and from the organizational structure of the Police Force. Through our project activities, we attempted to question the changes which took place in the last few years in police education, the consequences of policy changes and the root causes of changing perceptions of various sections of the society towards the police, and to make our ftndings publicly available.
Experts Workshop: “An Overview of Turkey’s Security Organizations in the Aftermath of the 15 July Coup Attempt”
On 10 May 2018, we organized a workshop for experts titled “An overview of Turkey’s Security Organizations in the Aftermath of the 15 July Coup Attempt” in Istanbul. Our aim was to revisit our findings from the 2016 study of the police force and thus the workshop featured discussions around the results of this public perception study which was conducted with the relevant security organizations and officers, and around the transformation that security sector organizations underwent during the State of Emergency, launched in the aftermath of the 15th July Coup Attempt.
Our discussions yielded the following conclusions:
- Turkey’s security sector began its reform process at the height of the country’s EU accession negotiations, and more recently under the State of Emergency rule, security organizations increasingly turned inwards and experienced trust issues internally.
- There is a need for studies exploring the impact on daily lives of security policies.
- There are not that many security studies undertaken in academia or civil society that focuses on Turkey, and there is a shortage of experts in this area.
- We need deep and thoughtful discussions among diverse social actors to explore the relationship between security organizations and civil society.
The research report is to be finalized in the first half of 2019 and will be shared to the relevant social, political actors and the public.
Social Perception Studies
Perceptions and Attitudes of Women in Turkey Towards Politics, Economy, and Social Issues
Supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ankara, and conducted in part through a collaboration with YADA Foundation (Yaşama Dair Vakıf) for the public opinion survey piece of the research, this study aims to examine perceptions and experiences of women representing different political, regional, and socioeconomic cross sections of Turkey’s society by putting an emphasis upon both local and national politics. It also attempts to analyze women’s participation in decision making structures as part of their daily lives, their key challenges and expectations. We deployed both qualitative and quantitative research methods to conduct the survey drawing from a sample that is a representative of Turkey.
As part of our project activities, we organized a workshop for experts at PODEM’s office in July 2018. We teamed up with YADA Foundation to design survey questionnaires and outreach samples for both the qualitative and the quantitative portions of the fteldwork, which we implemented collaboratively. Our sample was representative of Turkey and consisted of approximately 2,800 respondents. Survey data was collected through 1:1 exchanges with respondents between November 2018 and February 2019.
In addition to the public opinion survey, we carried out semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 90 women in Istanbul, representing different socioeconomic backgrounds. We also utilized the cognitive mapping methodology for this portion of the fteldwork.
The research report is to be released during the first half of 2019.
- The concept of politics usually connotes negatively for women, who associate politics with concepts such as ‘lack of trust, deceit, injustice, chaos, fear, ftghting and conflict’.
- Interviewees tend to be of the opinion that politics disregards societal demands, dismisses women’s views, and primarily serves politicians’ interests.
- Compared to the past, Turkey’s politics is perceived to be more accessible Interviewees observe that until recently, politics in Turkey was held by elites. Now politics is visible even at the neighborhood level and can be accessed more easily.
- Interviewees believe that women are underrepresented in politics and the present women in politics fall short of responding to women’s needs and expectations.
- We conclude that there is a high level of awareness among the interviewees of the impact of politics on everyday Women feel politics’ spatial influence as well as its impact on social relations.
- Interviewees agree that when it comes to local governments, the relationship between the center and the local governance disproportionately affects the local It is widely held that the political narratives of the center and the local governance need to be separate and that local politics needs to focus on local issues.
- Almost all of our interviewees stressed that Turkey’s economic affairs are in bad shape and that economic challenges negatively impact daily lives. These economic challenges are seen to be caused by the following factors: (1) national and international political developments, (2) insufficient level of domestic production and dependency on exports, and (3) Turkey’s foreign Among these factors, emphasis is placed on expectations to resolve the export dependency by increasing local production (through supporting farmers). Interviewees believe that new policy solutions can deliver a positive impact on the economy.
- While expectations of the future are expressed in individualistic terms, concerns towards the future are articulated in ways that are more community Accordingly, interviewees expressed the following concerns about the future: (1) the establishment of stability in the country, (2) the progression of politics in Turkey, (3) tconcerns around security and war, (4) the protection of basic rights and freedoms, (5) financial difficulties.
Legal and Social Integration of Syrians in Turkey
Between April 2017 and January 2018, we carried out a research project on refugee rights with the support of Raoul Wallenberg Institute. This project was aimed at informing regulatory processes that would establish the necessary legal foundations for the social integration of Syrians in Turkey. We conducted in-depth interviews with Syrians in Istanbul and Gaziantep between September and December 2017. Additionally, we organized two workshops in Istanbul and Gaziantep respectively to convene civil society representatives and other professionals from organizations focused on the Syrian community in Turkey. Our objectives were to understand what legal steps have been taken towards the Syrian community in Turkey to date, to identify the necessary structural and legal provisions, and to generate policy proposals to respond to identifted needs. We published a working report in May 2018 that discusses ftndings from the research project.
Activities and Outputs
The Syrian Community in Turkey: Perspectives, Prospects, and Policies
Author: Fulya Memişoğlu
Published in English
This report analyzes how the structural and legal mechanisms designed to facilitate the social integration of the Syrian community in Turkey are perceived by their beneftciaries and proposes actionable policy recommendations to address the challenges identifted. The report offers a comprehensive overview of Turkey’s humanitarian and migration policies and contextual background on the legal status of Syrian refugees in Turkey.
- Strengthening cooperation between local and Syrian civil society organizations and the public sector and civil society is a priority area for development to ensure effective social integration in the near future.
- Local and Syrian civil society actors in Istanbul and Gaziantep notice that they are communicating and sharing information more effectively by coming together around civil society channels.
- Local units need to play an active part to respond to Syrians’ needs in neighborhoods where they live and civil society organizations can assist local officials to deliver these responses.
- Local communities’ approaches to Syrians are seen as crucially important, and increasing cross- community communication is viewed as key to ensuring successful integration.
2019-2020 PODEM ACTIVITIES
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA STUDIES
A Comprehensive, Integrated, and Bottom-Up Approach to Reset Our Understanding of the Mediterranean Space (MEDRESET)
As part of our 2019 Program of Activities, we will continue contributing to the ftnal reports and activities of the MEDRESET Project. The ftnal set of this project’s meetings include a March 2019 conference and review meeting in Brussels to convene European Commission representatives, and experts from MENA and Europe, and also open for wider participation. Additionally, we aim to disseminate the edited book that compiles country reports PODEM carried out the fteldwork for, and to carry out subsequent activities to ensure the book’s dissemination to relevant policymakers. This project is due to be completed in summer 2019.
Middle East and North Africa: Mapping Geopolitical Shifts, Regional Order and Domestic Transformations (MENARA)
We aim to complete MENARA Project’s ftnal set of reports and events in the ftrst quarter of 2019. The ftnal project meeting will be held at the same time as the MEDRESET Project events detailed above.
Also in the ftrst quarter of 2019, we will be ftnalizing our summary analysis of reports that feature regional dynamics in MENA that will be published directly by the European Commission and a future note that is on migration management in Turkey. We are planning to actively share the project’s outputs with the public. This project is due to be completed in spring 2019.
SOCIETAL DIALOGUE AND REGIONAL INEQUALITIES
The Role of Business in Societal Dialogue and Regional Development
In this area of work, we are planning to organize a meeting in Ankara for the business community and policymakers. We will aim to discuss during this meeting, which will bring together bureaucrats, politician and business people, the impact of recent national- international politics and regional security challenges on Turkey’s overall economic performance, prosperity, investment climate, and development performance. We will be looking to share key ftndings from the project’s activities and to create a platform for dialogue around public sector-civil society-private sector cooperation.
What Roles the Business Community can Play to Enhance Turkey’s Socioeconomic Resilience and Democratization Efforts
One of the projects we are planning for 2019 is focused on the roles that Turkey’s business community can play to strengthen the country’s socioeconomic resilience and to support democratization efforts. This project, for which we anticipate support from Berghof Foundation, will mobilize active participation from business stakeholders, we’ve built working relationships with in the previous project, to carry out activities around (1) public sector-private sector cooperation, and (2) bringing together business and civil society actors from Turkey’s east and west around local We will also aim to publish political and economic analysis that can support this process.
Understanding Future Values: Youth and Interaction across the EU and Turkey
In this study, which is planned to commence in 2019, we aim to understand how university-level youths’ values are shaping up in relation to political and social transformations, and their perceptions of core social values such as democracy, human rights and tolerance through a comparative analysis in Turkey and the EU. We will conduct a comprehensive fteld study in Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium and carry out comparative analyses of ftndings. We will also be looking to examine the political preferences of young people in these countries, their views on Turkey-EU relations and their expectations from the future. As a result of this research, we would like to contribute to the growth of youth policies’ and civil society’s influence on the development of EU- Turkey relations.
SOCIAL PERCEPTION STUDIES
State, Society and Politics
With this study, we aim to analyze societal reflections of recent political developments at the macro level, to reveal the political and cultural norms that the various sections of the society hold, their lifestyles, and political views, and to evaluate the current dynamics of the long-lived phenomenon of political/class oriented polarization in Turkey. To that end, we will be looking to conduct a broad analysis of social and political dynamics to offer policy recommendations to policymakers and decisionmakers, thereby contribute to the strengthening of democracy in Turkey and to the elimination of political polarization. We plan to start this study, which will be carried out across Turkey through qualitative and quantitative research methods, in 2019.
TURKEY AND EUROPE
Informal Turkey-EU-Germany Dialogue Towards Better Understanding and Joint Action Meeting, Berlin
In March 2019, we set to hold a meeting in Berlin for the broad participation of bureaucrats and civil society from Turkey, the EU and Germany to continue on from a series of meetings we have been organizing in collaboration with the Berghof Foundation as part of the “Turkey-EU Joint Action” project. We aim for government representatives from Turkey and Germany, high level bureaucrats, civil society representatives, academics and high-level bureaucrats to attend this meeting. This meeting will feature expert-led discussions on national and foreign policy issues in Turkey and aim to generate a multi-dimensional discussion and dialogue platform that focuses on EU-Turkey-Germany relations and developments in the Middle East.
Stability and Democracy in Turkey Studies: High-Level Political Dialogue Meetings
Following on from the Turkey-EU Dialogue Meetings series that we have been organizing in collaboration with Berghof Foundation since 2017, we are planning to convene a series of multi-stakeholder meetings at the national and international level with the participation of political and social actors. At the national level, these meetings will focus on Turkey’s domestic issues and bilateral relations between Turkey and Germany. At the international level, meetings will aim to bring bureaucrats, politicians and experts together to examine EU-Turkey relations. Our objectives for these meetings are to create an environment to constructively discuss policies that respond to recent international and domestic challenges and to capture these discussions in the form of analysis reports.
Workshop Series in Europe
In 2019, we plan to convene a series of workshops in Paris, London, Brussels and Berlin through which we aim to provide informative presentations on Turkey’s legal and judicial transformations in the recent years, and focus on Turkey’s planned next steps particularly for legal and judicial reform, its vision and the future parameters that will deftne the country’s domestic and foreign policy. These workshops will touch on social dynamics that drive Turkey towards a presidential system, and feature discussions on critical developments in domestic and foreign policy that have positive and negative implications for Turkey’s bilateral relations with countries covered in the workshop series.
SYRIA AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
Turkey as an Emerging Regional Power: High-level Regional Dialogue Meetings
A new area of work that falls within 2019 project activities that we plan to continue working on together with Berghof Foundation will aim to analyze Turkey’s regional policies towards the Middle East and Syria, to organize regional dialogue meetings with the relevant political and civilian actors and to evaluate emerging challenges through expert insights. We plan to develop analyses and op-eds drawing on a series of roundtable meetings and to share these insights with relevant social, political actors and the public.
Foreign Policy Workshop Series
We are planning to host a comprehensive workshop series in Istanbul and Ankara for experts, analysts and academics focused on global and regional developments and their impacts on Turkey. These workshops will feature local, regional and global political analyses and discussions on various themes (economy, commerce, security, migration) related to Turkey-Europe and Turkey-Middle East. High-level bureaucrats, representatives from national and international organizations, senior experts and academics will come together around these workshops, based on which we will produce analysis reports.
Our objectives for convening this workshop series in Turkey are to support the political dialogue environment through input from civil society debates, to broaden the space of politics with perspectives from the civil society and to share analysis reports, branded according to themes from the workshop series, with the relevant social and political actors.
JUDICIARY, JUSTICE, AND LAW STUDIES
Expectations from Access to Justice on Social and Political Bases
Turkey formally transitioned to a presidential system, following the 2017 constitutional reform referendum, and this new governance system introduced important changes to public administration. In this new program of activities, we are planning to include reports that draw from deep engagement with the Presidency’s Legal Policy Council to share analysis and policy recommendations on strengthening access to justice, the protection and expansion of rights and freedoms, and judicial, legal and systemic reforms. Our aims are to strengthen the judicial, legal and systemic reform processes triggered by the new governance system through civil society input and to help shape access to justice mechanisms according to present day needs and expectations.
This study aims to address the concept of access to justice not only vis a vis the current challenges of the legal system and relevant technical debates, but also in relation to all structural, social, cultural, political and economic barriers that individuals face in their search for justice. We aim to situate our analysis of the concept of access to justice within the welfare state literature and to bring civil society actors and policymakers around a multi-dimensional examination of this concept. This project will include expert meetings, fteldwork and yield research reports and policy recommendations which we will share with relevant social and political actors and the public.
Refugee Rights Network Project
Going forward, we will treat the Syrian crisis as a separate area of work because of the scale of the war and human tragedy experienced in this crisis and its immediate impact on Turkey, which tops the list of countries affected. PODEM’s work in this area will aim to support Syrians’ integration into Turkey, to bring local actors from Turkey together with Syrian actors, to enable the voicing of demands on both sides, and to contribute to the formulation of joint solutions. We will prioritize studies that seek to focus on local government actors as well as identify the perception of migration by communities in Turkey.
Our objectives for the Refugee Rights Network project that we aim to realize are to convene civil society organizations that work to advance civic and socioeconomic rights of refugees in Turkey, relevant platforms and national/local governance units around activities focused on knowledge and experience sharing so as to increase participation in cooperation and decision-making processes. Project activities will include dialogue meetings and comprehensive fteldwork, and a key piece will be to develop a multilingual (Turkish, Arabic and English) online platform to be actively utilized by civil society organizations and expertise providers (managed both by local community and migrant groups) and to increase experts’ knowledge and experience exchanges through a unifted platform.