Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey – Public Lecture Is Europe right to fear Turkey?

Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey – Public Lecture
Is Europe right to fear Turkey?


Speaker: Firdevs Robinson – Journalist and the former editor of BBC World Service.

Chair: Gerald Maclean – Emeritus Professor in the University of Exeter College of Humanities.

Date: Tuesday, 28 June 2016.

Time: 18.30 – 20.00

Location:  S-1.06, Strand Campus, King’s College London WC2R 2LS


Turkey’s accession process to the EU is a widely discussed and contested issue not only in Turkey but also in Europe. Applying for full-membership in 1987, Turkey’s accession process was perceived to be gaining momentum in early 2000s. However, many now deem this momentum as lost and even Turkey’s long-standing allies within the EU, the United Kingdom being formerly the most vocal, are now hesitating in their support. In Britain, Turkey’s accession to the EU is nowadays being used as, in David Cameron’s words, a ‘red-herring’ by the Leave campaigners who have nevertheless managed to corner Cameron into conceding that “at its current pace, Turkey will not join the EU before the year 3000”.

In the midst of these, Ms. Robinson will ask and try to answer where the roots of Europe’s problem with Turkey lie and whether if these roots are as deep as many believe them to be.


Is Europe right to fear Turkey?

It is often argued that the crises focus minds on the urgent need for better co-operation. Yet, despite the senior EU officials’ claims that the recent migration crisis bringing Turkey closer to Europe, the gap between Turkey and the EU is widening.

Turkey’s relations with Europe, already soured over Ankara’s worsening record on basic freedoms, are now looking increasingly shakier.

The controversial migration deal between the EU and Turkey, including the prospect of fast-tracking visa-free travel for Turkish citizens inside the Schengen zone, has sparked an acrimonious debate.

Anxieties about Europe about to be overrun by “millions” of immigrants have surfaced in almost every EU country, but it is in Britain, Turkey and Turks have been portrayed as the bogeymen.

Once staunch advocates of Turkish accession, the British politicians of all colors, turned the possibility of 79 million Turks gaining freedom of movement into an explosive political issue during their EU referendum campaign.

Has Turkey become just a tool of convenience for political expediency or are the European politicians and public rightly worried about being in the same boat as Turkey?

How committed Turkey really is to closer ties with the European Union? Who should we believe -President Tayyip Erdogan, who says “we’re going our way, you go yours”, or Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, claiming that despite all the noise, it is in Turkey’s interests to remain anchored to Europe?

Is it high time, for both Ankara and Brussels to re-asses their relationship? 


Speaker: Firdevs Robinson

As a London-based journalist, Firdevs Robinson has been covering international affairs for three decades. For the first 25 years, she worked as a producer, reporter and finally as an editor at the BBC World Service, focusing on Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia ,the Caucasus and Europe. After a year of television journalism, reporting on the British economy for the Turkish TV channel CNBC-e, and writing for websites including Open Democracy and The Foreign Policy Centre, she has now launched into a different kind of journalism. While travelling, writing and freelancing, Firdevs talk Turkey (http://www.firdevstalkturkey.com) blog is her way of commenting and interacting on the subject that interests her most: her home country, Turkey.

Firdevs Robinson’s specific areas of interest are the domestic and foreign policies of Turkey and its place in the world. As an outspoken defender of freedom of speech and a proponent of high ethical standards in journalism, she also regularly writes about the media.

Chair: Professor Gerald Maclean

Professor Maclean is an Emeritus Professor in the University of Exeter College of Humanities and the founding co-director of Exeter Turkish Studies. Before coming to Exeter, he was Anniversary Professor at the University of York, and currently holds visiting professorial appointments at King Abdul-Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey.

Most recently, with Nabil Matar, he co-authored Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1713 (Oxford University Press, 2011), a detailed study of cross-cultural influences that will extend from the Muslim Mediterranean to the Safavid and Mughal Empires, using Arabic and Ottoman sources to challenge British views of themselves and the Islamic world.

Professor MacLean was also among the international team of equestian researchers who completed the 2013 Evlya Celebi Ride from Istanbul to Kutahya.

The event is free, however a registration is required. Please register via the following link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/is-europe-right-to-fear-turkey-tickets-26146208012



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