Körber Network Foreign Policy – Field Trip to Turkey

7 to 12 October 2012

The 2012 field trip took the members of the Körber Network Foreign Policy to Turkey. Against the backdrop of the Syria conflict and the current Turkish-Syrian tensions, it tried to give the participants some specific insights into the current political, economic and social situation in Turkey and to discuss the foreign and security policy challenges facing this NATO member state. The visit included Ankara, the Turkish capital, Hatay Province, which borders on Syria, and Istanbul, the metropolis on the Bosphorus.

At the start of the trip the members of the Körber Network Foreign Policy were briefed by Eberhard Pohl, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany. The agenda in Ankara included meetings with Ali Naci Koru, the Turkish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Levent Gümrükçü, the Deputy Director-General of the Policy Planning Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After this the members of the field trip had an opportunity to talk to Çağatay Kılıç, a deputy of the ruling party, AKP, and Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the chairman of the largest opposition party, CHP. The visit to Ankara ended with a presentation by and a dinner with the staff of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV).

During the two-day visit to the Hatay Province some of the participants visited a camp for refugees of the Syrian civil war. In Antakya, the capital of Hatay, the group met the governor, Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz, and representatives of the Christian and Jewish communities. A meeting with students of the Mustafa Kemal Üniversitesi concluded the programme in Hatay.

In Istanbul the subject of Turkish policy on Syria came up when the participants talked to Rami Nakhla, a prominent blogger and Syrian opposition activist. The members of the Körber Network Foreign Policy were invited to a dinner with Michael Thumann, who is the Middle East correspondent for DIE ZEIT, and they met representatives of the employers’ federation, TÜSİAD; Hugh Pope, the Turkey/Cyprus project director of the International Crisis Group; representatives of İnsan Hakları Derneği (Human Rights Association); and Erol Önderoğlu, a member of Reporters Without Borders.

The field trip to Turkey was rounded off with sightseeing tours of the ancient city centres of Antakya and Istanbul.

In 2011 the Körber Network Foreign Policy went on a field trip to Saudi Arabia, and in 2010 it visited Kazakhstan.