Turkey and the Arab Spring

June 13, 2013 // 3:00pm5:00pm
Image Credit: Freedom House

Members of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s Strategic Research Center will discuss Turkish Foreign Policy in the Middle East in the context of the Arab Spring. They will try to shed light on the factors that influenced Turkey's response to the democratic uprisings of the last three years, with special emphasis on the Syrian case. The Strategic Research Center is the Ministry's in-house think-tank to establish channels of communication between policy makers and the academic and research community. It also works as a consultative body to provide foreign policy decision makers with scholarly assessments of relevant issues and reviews Turkish foreign policy with a future perspective.

Bülent Aras was appointed Chairman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s Strategic Research Center (SAM) in November 2010. He is also academic advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a former Wilson Center public policy scholar.  Aras has published 13 books in Turkey and abroad and his articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers and have been translated into several languages. Aras focuses on Turkish Foreign Policy, Middle Eastern Politics, and Central Asia, and has consulted as an expert in these fields for numerous organizations. His writings include Palestinian- Israeli Peace Process and Turkey (Novascience, 1998), New Geopolitics of Eurasia and Turkey's Position (Frankcass, 2002), Turkey and the Greater Middle East (TASAM, 2004) and, as co-editor, Oil and Geopolitics in the Caspian Sea Region (Praeger, 1999), and September 11 and World Politics (FUP: 2004). Aras is editor-in-chief of Perceptions and founding editor of Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations and is a member of the international Board of Directors of the International Centre for Black Sea Studies.

Mesut Özcan joined SAM of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as deputy chairman in September 2011 and is an advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Previously, Özcan was a visiting scholar at Kuwait University’s Department of Political Science in 2009 and worked at Istanbul Ticaret University’s Department of International Relations as an Assistant Professor between 2007 and 2011. He studied at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University on the Jean Monnet Master Scholarship in 2005-2006 and defended his dissertation at the Boğaziçi University Atatürk Institute in 2007.  Özcan has written three books— Sorunlu Miras Irak (Istanbul: Küre, 2003), Harmonizing Foreign Policy: Turkey, the EU and the Middle East (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), and Medeniyetler ve Dünya Düzen(ler)i, Mesut Ozcan ve Muzaffer Senel (ed), (Istanbul: Klasik, 2010)—and has published articles and book chapters on Turkish Foreign Policy, Middle Eastern Politics and Iraq. He serves on the editorial boards of Insight Turkey, Divan and Perceptions.

Saban Kardas works as an Associate Professor of international relations in the Department of International Relations at TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara and as an advisor at Diplomacy Academy.  He has published scholarly articles and book chapters on Turkish domestic and foreign policies, human rights, energy policies and international security and has been an occasional contributor to Turkish and international media. Kardas is assistant editor to the quarterly journal Perceptions and writes analyses for the German Marshal Fund's “On Turkey” series. He has taught classes at Diplomacy Academy and Turkish Military Academy.  Kardas received his doctoral degree in political science from the University of Utah.

Fatih Tedik is a graduate of the Department of Political Sciences and Public Administration, Bilkent University. Tedik received his MSc in State, Society and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He joined the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in 2011, and is currently pursuing his PhD studies at the Department of Sociology, University of Birmingham.

6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Event Speakers List: 
  • Bulent Aras // Global Fellow
    Professor of International Relations, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sabancı University, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Deputy Chairman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s Strategic Research Center
  • Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara; President of ORSAM-Ankara
  • Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant

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