Tag Archives: turkey

Women in Turkey: Perceptions towards Politics and Developments in social and economic life

With the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ankara, PODEM has started to conduct a new research entitled “The Perceptions and Attitudes of Women towards Democracy, Governance and Political/Economic Developments in Turkey” under its social perception studies.

In collaboration with Istanbul-based YADA Foundation, the research targets women from different corners and backgrounds of Turkey and aim to analyze and understand their perceptions of politics and social/economic issues in Turkey while looking at their common daily problems and both expectations from the future.

The project activities kicked off with an expert workshop in July 2018, gathering experts, academics, civil society and media professionals working on women’s studies, politics and sociology. The workshop laid the foundation of the research scope and methodology before commencing the fieldwork.

The research team is now conducting a two-phase fieldwork; the first of which is composed of qualitative in-depth interviews with 90 women largely from Istanbul; and the second phase is a nation-wide survey aimed to be done with a sample of around 2700-3000 women across Turkey. Both in in-depth interviews and the nation-wide survey, women with different political; ideological; social; and economic leanings are targeted.

Following the completion of the fieldwork, an evaluation meeting will be held to disseminate the main findings to the public and the relevant stakeholders; accompanied by the release of the research reports expected to be ready in early 2019.

With this research and its outcomes, we aim to present the main themes in relation to women’s experiences, attitudes and perceptions of politics and social life in Turkey, and expectations from the future to the public opinion with tangible policy proposals in light of the study findings to the related stakeholders.






The Syrian Community in Turkey: Perspectives, Prospects, and Policies

Authored by Fulya Memişoğlu, this report, entitled “The Syrian Community in Turkey: Perspectives, Prospects, and Policies”, centers on the environment accommodating the Syrian community in Turkey by understanding and analyzing the policies made to regulate the influx of Syrians feeing from the civil war and to facilitate their social integration into society.

To examine how the policies targeting Syrians have tended to address the process of integration on legal, economic, and social levels, a fieldwork study was conducted from September 2017 to December 2017 with Syrians in the cities of Gaziantep and Istanbul.

Throughout the fieldwork, in-depth interviews were conducted with Syrians from diverse professional backgrounds including educators, journalists, legal experts, civil society representatives, business owners, physicians, and students. Additionally, two workshops—the first in Gaziantep and the second in Istanbul—were organized with Syrians in October 2017 and December 2017, respectively.

The report aims to contribute to the policy-making process pertinent to migration management and social integration of the Syrian community with actionable policy recommendations.

Click here to view or download the report.

Global identities: Embedding the Middle East and the North Africa Region in the Wider World

Contributed by Gülşah Dark, the research paper was published within the MENARA Project 

This paper outlines the ways in which the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been embedded in global identity processes and structures in the post-2011 period. It assesses MENA social and political developments in relation to global ideational and identity factors. It shows, global or universalist identity perceptions, in the form of support for human rights and democratic values, also influence the MENA region.

Dynamic global youth identities and cultures also influence an exceptionally “young” region and vie for the loyalty of youth against other identities. Changing dynamics of ethnic and religious identities among diasporas, which link the region with the wider world, modify social and political contexts within the MENA, especially some of its post-2011 conflicts.

Click here to read the paper.

Challenging the State in the Middle East and North Africa: The Role of Identities

Contributed by Zeynep Gülöz Bakır, the research paper was published as part in MENARA Project 

Since independence, states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been dominant players in shaping the regional order. The purpose of this paper is to explore and define challenges to         the state and their role in shaping identities in the MENA region, and to evaluate their regional roots.  The paper emphasizes two key aspects of nationalism in the region. The first concerns the existence of multiple identities and layers of identity that co-exist in the MENA region and which do not necessarily clash with each other. The second is that nationalism and national identities are not a recent phenomenon in the region. This paper shows that there are similarities as well as differences among the three major sub-regions of MENA in terms of the impact of identities at three levels of analysis.

Click here to read the paper.

Turkey’s election and the Kurdish peace process: what now?

“The post-election landscape in Turkey raises new challenges in the search for a lasting settlement of the conflict between Turks and Kurds.”

Özge Genç via openDemocracy


The peace process in relation to Turkey’s Kurdish minority was at the heart of the country’s general elections on 7 June 2015. It will be a leading item for the coalition talks between parties prior to the formation of a new government. In turn that government will have to decide whether to continue talking to Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and figurehead for many of Turkey’s Kurds.

The election results were a breakthrough for the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which in winning 13% of the vote easily passed the high threshold of 10% needed to qualify for seats in the national parliament. This reflected the HDP’s success in gathering a new coalition from its core constituency, a politicised young generation of first-time voters in the Kurdish neighbourhoods, Kurdish conservatives who previously voted for the ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP), and the Kurdish Alevi minority in the eastern provinces. Many believed that the HDP’s presence in parliament would protect Kurdish interests as a whole, and guarantee that the peace process would continue.

Other factors contributed to the HDP’s advance. They included President Erdoğan’s unconstructive discourse on the peace process before the elections, Turkey’s initial reluctance to open the border at Kobane where Kurdish fighters were (and still are) battling Islamic State, and the desire of new voters to strengthen the hands of the Kurds and the HDP in the peace process.

A new period

But what happens next? The AKP remains the largest party, but it lost the majority in parliament it had held since 2002, so must find a partner to form a government. The realistic choice is between the hardline National Action Party (MHP) and the politically conservative Republican People’s Party (CHP). A link-up with the HDP is improbable because of mutual distrust, the military and political aspects of the Qandil-based KCK, and the HDP’s anti-AKP election campaign. Turkey’s new government, therefore, is unlikely to favour the phased completion of the peace process, which will require the PKK’s disarmament, the return of PKK combatants, democratic reforms, and a true reconciliation.

The MHP is categorically against the talks with Öcalan, and the CHP highly sceptical, declaring that it would not make him a party to the negotiations. They do not recognise him, or the KCK, as a legitimate side in the peace talks. They believe the peace process itself involves concessions to the PKK at the expense of Turkey’s integrity. And both MHP and CHP rejected proposals made in 2011-13 to reform the definition of citizenship in the constitution (by removing the emphasis on “Turkishness”, and introducing education in Kurdish).

The elections thus create difficulties, both political and bureaucratic, for the future of the peace process. The first is, assuming the process can continue, who the negotiators would be. So far it was run by two strong leaders, the prime minister (and now president) Erdoğan and the PKK’s Öcalan, which gave it widespread social legitimacy. The election results have called into question the extent to which the power and impact of these two leaders will remain intact in the post-election era. Moreover, if the AKP loses control of the bureaucracy, the balance of power in Turkey’s politics may tilt towards hardline anti-peace elements.

For Turkey even to get to the stage of talks between the government and Öcalan was a major achievement, for it meant that key state institutions such as the army and civil-judicial bureaucracy had lost their control over politics. This could only happen after a long power struggle between elected and non-elected elites, and by social forces (including the Kurds, Alevis, and Islamic actors such as head-scarved women) who challenged the state. Thus a new period has now opened. The same factors that hindered the peace process before the elections are still to be tackled in the next government regardless of the actors that compose it.

A fundamental choice

The peace process thus faces four new challenges. First, before the election campaign, much excitement was created by a joint press conference between the AKP government and the HDP in Dolmabahçe. But equally it raised conflicting expectations and made more obvious the different understandings of peace held by the two sides. The PKK/KCK side anticipates that the disarmament of the PKK and democratisation should go hand in hand. For the government of the time, consolidation of public order and disarmament are preconditions for further reforms.

Second, there are the contrasting views of Turks and Kurds towards the peace process. The Kurdish population feels that it is working in only one direction – only the Kurds are compromising, while the government does not take any tangible steps. Turks, on the other hand, typically believe that the government is giving too many concessions to a PKK which does not want to lay down arms.

These different outlooks were set long before the elections. Now, an invigorated HDP and a yet unknown coalition partner will inescapably diversify the political scene. How the various contentions will play out is yet to be seen. An important factor is the greater multiplicity of actors. More than two sides will need to talk to and convince each other – the responsibility will not lie with the government alone.

A third challenge lies with the state. One of the weakest points of the peace process so far has been the lack of support from within the state. The civil and military bureaucracy, as well as the security apparatus, are in a position to hamper peace-making efforts. A  government firmly committed to the process is needed to counterbalance the ability of these old actors to block progress.

A fourth challenge involves the spoiler effect that all conflict-resolution processes face. Two cases in point are the bomb blasts at an HDP rally in Diyarbakır before the elections, and fighting between supporters of the Kurdish-Islamist Hüdapar and the HDP after them. Experience suggests that a spoiler effect is unavoidable; yet if both sides are aware of this, they can use it as an opportunity rather than a weakness. Peace-oriented actors on both sides could become more resolute and united if they respond in the right way to isolate destructive elements.

There is also a strong counterweight to these problems. After decades of conflict, the idea of peace has become the norm for Turks and Kurds alike. The notion that all sides would undoubtedly gain from peace is the strong foundation of the peace process. And Turkey’s public opinion by now acknowledges that the only alternative to peace would be a disaster.

Everyone knows what that alternative would mean: a continuation, even intensification, of the armed conflict, securitisation of the Kurdish region and the rest of Turkey, discrimination, social unrest, economic underdevelopment, and a shift of power from civilian government back to the security apparatus. This fundamental choice means that, despite all the difficulties, there is still room for optimism about the peace process.

Tag Archives: turkey