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Turkey and the Middle East [FULL]

14 september, 17:00-19:00

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

[No more tickets available]

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: please register at

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 Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Jane’s Defense Weekly, Foreign Affairs, Atlantic, New 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.

Amberin Zaman | Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars

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.



14 september
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