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BIAA London Lecture: Conflict and Reconciliation: A Role for Turkish Civil Society Today?

BIAA London Lecture: Conflict and Reconciliation: A Role for Turkish Civil Society Today?

London | Wolfson Room, The British Academy

10 December 2019 18:30 to 20:00

A BIAA London lecture by Dr Leonidas Karakatsanis, former BIAA Assistant Director (2015-2019).

For more than a decade after 1999, significant reconciliation efforts emerged amidst the troubled relations between Turkey and its neighbours Greece, Armenia and the Republic of Cyprus. Even the thorny Kurdish issue saw the launch of a short-lived peace process between 2013-2015. In all these processes of rapprochement, civil society actors and initiatives played a significant role in facilitating empathy across the societies and ethnic groups in question. Civil society’s role was important because conflict and mistrust were sustained by painful memories of loss and displacement that usually excluded the pain of the ‘other’.

Today, the positive momentum that such reconciliation efforts achieved appears long gone. Instead, cool relations at best - tensions, live conflict, and war at worst - have returned. Adopting a comparative historical approach, this lecture will evaluate the successes and failures of civil society’s role in promoting rapprochement and reflect on the challenges that Turkish civil society faces in the pursuit of regional peace.


1) A common prayer for deceased ancestors by Turkish and Greek descendants of families affected by population exchange at the village of Panagitsa in Northern Greece. (Source: Milliyet Newspaper) 

2 and 3) The commemoration of Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist, on the 8th anniversary of his assassination. Osmanbey, Istanbul. Images by Esin.

Keywords: Politics, civil society, reconciliation

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