Huis voor democratie en rechtsstaat

Lecture 2: Europe and Turkey – how to proceed in troublesome times?

Dinsdag 4 december 2018, 20.00 uur - 21:30 uur

Europe Direct The Hague and the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University have jointly prepared a series of two public lectures this autumn, called Europe College. On December 4, the second lecture will be on the relationship between Europe and Turkey.

A long history

The ties of Europe and Turkey are hundreds of years old. Nevertheless, the relation between the EU and Turkey became a quite complicated one recently. As a member of NATO and G20, Turkey has been an important partner to the EU. Since 1996 there is a customs union between Turkey and the EU, and both remain dependant of each other in the field of security, migration and economy.

Candidate state

Since 1999 is Turkey a candidate state to the EU membership. Since then, a lot of reforms have taken place to fit the Copenhagen criteria. But in the last years, the negotiations have become rather difficult. For instance, Turkey refuses to recognise the EU member state Cyprus and the EU criticises the situation of Human Rights and the freedom of press.

In 2017, a majority of the European Parliament declared to stop the negotiations on EU membership. A special EU-Turkey summit in March 2018 did not bring any meaningful result. While the special rapporteur on Turkey, Kati Piri, called in her report, from November this year to suspend any negotiations.

Challenging times

On the other hand, the EU arranged a deal in 2016 to manage the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. It was agreed that Turkey would take care of refugees and guard its borders in exchange for European financial aid. Even if the realisation of this deal creates problems itself, the EU does not intend to revoke it.

In the meantime, Turkey itself is going through difficult times in an instable region with a large amount of refugees and tensions in domestic politics.

Cultural exchanges as solution?

During the second lecture in our lecture series Europe College, our speakers will have a look at the developments in the relation between Turkey and the EU in the last decades. Where are the obstacles and where can new windows of opportunity for dialogues be established?

Although the tensions, a lot of individuals (artists, writers and other professionals) from Europe and Turkey are still getting inspiration from each other. Could cultural exchanges be a possible solution in troublesome times where political consensus might be hard to reach?

The moderator of this evening is Victor Vlam.


Tan Tunali was a Turkey correspondent from 2013-2016 for a.o. the Dutch newspaper Trouw and the Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer. At the moment, he is working on a publication on political developments in Turkey in the last years. Tunali is also affiliated with the Foundation Roportaj, an initiative for journalists and Freedom of press in Turkey.

Özkan Gölpinar  is an art critic, writer, lecturer and Member of The Dutch Culture Council. In the past, Gölpinar was employed as  affiliated researcher at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society where he has been researching the ways that the Dutch/European Art History has been reinvigorated in the last two decades by global movements.






Practical information

  • When: Tuesday December 4, from 8 PM to 9.30 PM
  • Where: ProDemos, Studio, Hofweg 1, The Hague
  • Entrance: Free of charge, but please register by sending an email to