Turkey's Transformation: What it Means for the Middle East and the U.S.
Dr. Svante Cornell
One might argue that over the past decade the changes in Turkey – institutional, political, economic, international – have been among the greatest of any country in the Middle East. Less newsworthy, these changes have occurred in the context of an evolutionary democracy, rather than in revolt against authoritarian regimes, as in North Africa and Syria. Consequently they are more firmly implanted and more likely to endure.
A moderate Islamic party is now in its third consecutive term and has successfully challenged the secularist raison d’etre that has prevailed since Ataturk. The historical influence and interventionism of the Turkish military has been drastically diminished, most recently with the conviction of over two hundred officers – several very senior – for conspiring against the government. The economy has been one of the fastest growing in the world, recently moving Turkey into 16th place on the world economic ladder. At the same time, the country’s historical European vocation has eroded in favor of a deepening and increasingly active involvement in the Middle East. These changes, while affording a range of promising opportunities (e.g. role in Syria), have also involved actions that concern Turkey’s traditional NATO allies. Examples include closer relations with the Iranian and Sudanese regimes; an unhelpful initiative (with Brazil) on the Iran nuclear issue; estrangement from Israel; and a more aggressive posture on Cyprus.
Our speaker, who returns to Tucson after an absence of nine years, will address these and other issues. Dr. Cornell has extensive experience in Turkey and Central Asia, having received his BS from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. He is currently at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, serving as Research Director for its Center for Asian-Caucasus and Silk Road Studies. He divides his time between the US and Sweden, where he teaches at Uppsala University and directs the Swedish Institute for Security and Development Policy. He has also served as Chair, Caucasus Studies, at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. He received his doctorate in Peace and Conflict Studies at Uppsala University. Dr. Cornell is the author of four books and innumerable monographs and articles on Turkey and Central Asia in both English and Swedish. His most recent piece “What Drives Turkish Foreign Policy?” will appear in the forthcoming issue of Middle East Quarterly.
Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Time: Social Hour 5:30 – Announcements & Dinner 6:15 – Speaker and Discussion 7:00
Location: Skyline Country Club, 5200 E. Saint Andrews Drive