On Wednesday, Oct. 19 Elizabethtown College students gathered in the Bowers Writers House to listen to guest lecturer Oya Dursun-Ozkanca, associate professor of political science and director of the international studies minor, talk about the Turkish foreign policy and its security.
Her lecture, “Three Months Past Turbulence: Turkish Foreign Policy and Security,” gives a unique insight into her past research, which has been primarily focused on Turkey’s foreign policy, and its relations with the transatlantic actors. Turkey’s open foreign policy has been aimed to increase communication between the country and its neighbors in the Balkans, the Southeast European region of nations.
The government’s soft power potential, pundits claim, is a primary source of Neo-Ottomanism, which itself is a term that refers to Turkey’s attempts to consolidate countries that were previously under rule of the Ottoman Empire.
Dursun-Ozkanca talked about the recent changes in the foreign policy and how they coincide with the domestic policy. Turkey’s coup attempt this past July has shed light on the internal problems that the country is facing. Past the progress that Turkey was achieving through their foreign policy came the outbursts from the coup, which has had reaction from other nations, such as the US and the EU.
“I previously heard about the coup and have been interested in the current development of the situation,” first-year Frank Coster stated in regards to his interest in the event.
The recent Turkish coup was led by a faction of the Turkish military attempting to overthrow the government and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is speculated that Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher who has resided in Pennsylvania since 1999, is responsible for staging the coup.
“Approximately 35,022 people have been detained in connection to the failed coup,” according to CNN, since the failed attempt at overthrowing the Turkish government.
Since the initial arrests, the Turkish government has been additionally searching for evidence of treachery among journalists and academics. A recent app on phones that can allow correspondence with Gulen has also been used and prompted the arrests of many more civilians.
Recently found dynamism in Turkish foreign policy is overshadowed by the arrival of the domestic problems in Turkey appear to overshadow the previous advancements.
Since Turkey is a vital factor in communication between Europe and the Middle East, this internal matter of control is worrisome because the foreign policy will not continue with the same effect. Dursun-Ozkanca spoke about the changing times in Turkey as well as what impact this will have on the rest of the world.
“I am a big advocate for human rights and the fact that the current situation in Turkey is so bad consistently worries me that we still have this dire situation,” first-year student Liana Smith said.
Last year while on sabbatical, Dursun-Ozkanca received the opportunity to write for the Foreign Policy Analysis Journal, which adds to her list of published scholarly articles.
She is now nearly halfway done her book on the matter of Turkey’s foreign policy, and the soft-balancing against the West. Dursun-Ozkanca is very excited about her upcoming book since it will also feature her interviews with the policy makers.
“A lot of attention will be on the book since it will be the first soft-balancing work that incorporates elite interviews,” Dursun-Ozkanca stated.
She continues to research the foreign policy and its international relations, as the events in Turkey continue to further complicate the matter.
Given the current state of Turkey, it is also believed that any hopes for Turkey joining the EU have decreased, especially with President Erdogan’s talk of re-implementing the death penalty.