Brussels Forum Breakout Dinner ‘Turkey, the EU, and the Mediterranean Security Equation’

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Within their framework of their wider project on strengthening the transatlantic relationship and focusing on an array of issues that are of common interest to both Europe and the United States, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, in cooperation with the German Marshall Fund of the United Nations, organised a break-out dinner on the issue of ‘Turkey, the EU, and the Mediterranean Security Equation’.

This dinner formed part of Brussels Forum 2016, which had the general title of ‘World beyond Disorder’. The choice of the discussion topic could not have been more timely, as on the day before (18th March 2016) the EU Heads of State or Government and Turkey agreed to a deal aimed at ending the irregular migration flows from Turkey to the EU and replacing them instead with legal channels of resettlement of refugees to Europe.

The kaleidoscopic interests and multifarious dynamics that have been at play in the Mediterranean region, and the multiplicity of actors and objectives involved in it have all created a very interesting security equation affecting not only the countries of the region, but also the EU as a whole. Turkey in particular has been among the countries most deeply affected by this new security landscape and the collapse of the regional order in the Middle East, as well as the deteriorating relationship with Russia. At the same time, Turkey is experiencing deepening political turmoil, violence and terrorism within its borders. What will these chaotic conditions mean for European and US relations with Ankara, given the country’s pivotal role in managing multiple crises, from refugee flows to the struggle against ISIS? How might a prospective settlement of the Cyprus dispute change the outlook for Turkey’s relations in the region, and with transatlantic partners?

The 3 speakers at the dinner were Ian Lesser, Senior Director, Foreign and Security Policy; Executive Director, Transatlantic Center, Brussels, Soli Özel, Lecturer of International Relations, Kadir Has Üniversitesi, and Constanze Stelzenmüller, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution. The discussion was moderated by Kader Sevinç, Representative of the People’s Republican Party (CHP) to the EU, and Presidency Member of the Party of European Socialists. The dinner was attended by a number of high-level guests, including representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, the European Commission and the European Parliament, as well as experts from other think-tanks.

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