[P4934] From Hope to Disappointment: The Failure of Reconciliation Processes in Turkey

Created by Tugba Tanyeri-Erdemir
Sunday, 11/19/17 3:30pm


What are the key factors that ensure successful resolution of conflicts? Which obstacles derail reconciliation and peacebuilding? By focusing on Turkey's unsuccessful reconciliation attempts with its Kurdish, Alevi, and Armenian citizens over the last decade, this panel aims to examine the underlying dynamics that facilitate or hinder peacebuilding.
The ideals of "equal citizenship" and "secularism" are enshrined in the Turkish constitution. In practice, however, the Republic of Turkey has failed to incorporate and treat individuals of different ethnic and religious backgrounds as equal citizens. The Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, in part owing to its promise to overhaul Turkey's exclusionary regime and discriminatory policies. Over the years, successive AKP governments attempted to initiate the Kurdish peace process, "Alevi opening," and restitution and restoration of Christian and Jewish sites. Although initially there was widespread public enthusiasm to tackle and resolve Turkey's protracted conflicts, none of these initiatives succeeded in delivering results. After a brief respite, the fighting between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces has resumed and intensified. The "Alevi opening" has led to an even more exclusionary form of sectarianism. The restored Armenian churches of Akhtamar and Surp Giragos, focal sites for amend making with the Armenians, both became off limits with the escalation of the Kurdish conflict. All three reconciliation processes initially raised hopes for a resolution of these long-running conflicts, but ultimately failed to the great disappointment of the public at large.
The papers of this panel examine the framing, design, and implementation of the Turkish government's failed reconciliation processes. Which shortcomings of these processes played a role in the derailing of resolution attempts? What role could third parties have played in facilitating mediation and arbitration? Do raised expectations present obstacles for future resolution and reconciliation attempts in the country? A comparative look at Turkey's failed initiatives with the Kurds, Alevis, and Armenians also has the potential to shed light on the complexities involved in designing and implementing effective resolution processes and managing expectations in the Middle East and beyond.


Pol Science



Lenore G. Martin

(Harvard University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Kemal Kirisci

(Brookings Institution)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Aykan Erdemir

(Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Tugba Tanyeri-Erdemir

(University of Pittsburgh)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Lisel Hintz

(Johns Hopkins SAIS)
I am an IR/comparativist scholar fascinated by the intersection of identity politics and foreign policy - specifically, how domestic identity struggles spill over to shape, and be shaped by, interactions in the international arena. My regional focus is...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;