- Alina Inayeh, Director, Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
- Ian Lesser, Vice President, Foreign Policy; Executive Director, Transatlantic Center, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
- Özgür Ünlühisarcıklı, Director, Ankara Office, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
- Jonathan Katz, Resident Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
On April 16th, 2017, Turkey held a historic referendum on changing the governance system from parliamentary to presidential alla Turca. While the referendum passed, albeit with a small margin of 52 against 48 percent of the vote, the content, the campaign period, and the voting procedures were contested in Turkey and abroad. The Venice Commission — the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters – criticized both the substance of the proposed constitutional amendments and the campaign environment. The International Referendum Observatory Mission of the OSCE criticized the campaign, reporting that the referendum took place on an uneven playing field and that fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed. Meanwhile, the Turkish opposition appealed to the Supreme Election Council (YSK) arguing that there were several irregularities on the voting day, but their appeal was rejected. Nonetheless, the referendum has passed and the constitutional amendments will be gradually implemented, substantially transforming Turkey’s political system.
What does this transformation mean for the Turkish political landscape? What are the implications for Turkish foreign policy and relations with Europe and the United States? Given the international criticism from international organizations, how should Transatlantic allies approach these developments in Turkey? The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) invites you to an on-the-record roundtable discussion with Alina Inayeh, director of the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation at GMF, Dr. Ian Lesser, vice president, foreign policy and executive director of the Transatlantic Center at GMF and Özgür Ünlühisarcıklı, director of GMF’s Ankara Office. The discussion will be moderated by GMF Resident Fellow Jonathan Katz.
Alina Inayeh, is the director of the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation at GMF, based in the Bucharest office. Inayeh joined GMF in 2007 as director of the Black Sea Trust, a project dedicated to strengthening cooperation and fostering development in the Black Sea Region. She is an active practitioner in the field of international development and democratization, having run the Freedom House Office in Ukraine in 2004 and the NDI office in Russia from 2000-03. She has trained NGOs throughout Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union on issues related to NGO Development and democratization. Inayeh has been a leading civil activist since the 1990’s in her own country of Romania, and an active promoter of the NGO sector in the region.
Ian Lesser, is vice president for foreign policy at The German Marshall Fund of the United States and a member of GMF’s executive team, managing programs across the organization. He also serves as executive director of the Transatlantic Center, the Brussels office of GMF, and leads GMF’s work on the Mediterranean, Turkey, and the wider Atlantic. Prior to joining GMF, Dr. Lesser was a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and vice president and director of studies at the Pacific Council on International Policy. He came to the Pacific Council from RAND, where he spent over a decade as a senior analyst and research manager specializing in strategic studies. From 1994-95, he was a member of the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, responsible for Turkey, Southern Europe, North Africa, and the multilateral track of the Middle East peace process.
Özgür Ünlühisarcıklı, is the director of GMF's office in Ankara, Turkey. Prior to joining GMF, he was the manager of the Resource Development Department of the Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey. Previously, Ünlühisarcıklı worked as the director of the ARI Movement, a Turkish NGO promoting participatory democracy, and as a consultant at AB Consulting and Investment Services. After graduating from Robert College (Istanbul), Ünlühisarcıklı received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Marmara University and his Master’s Degree from Koç University.
Jonathan Katz is a resident fellow with GMF's Washington, DC office. Prior to joining GMF, from 2014-17, Katz was the deputy assistant administrator in the Europe and Eurasia Bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he managed U.S. development policy, energy security, economic growth and democracy, and governance programs in Europe and Eurasia. He led USAID programs in Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Eastern and Central Europe, the Black Sea and Caucasus Regions, the Western Balkans, and regional programs that included Russia. Katz served as the U.S. government co-chair of political, economic, trade and development working groups with the European Union, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Poland, Romania, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Prior to joining USAID, from 2010-14, Katz served as a senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary in the International Organization Affairs Bureau at the U.S. Department of State. Before joining the State Department in 2010, Katz had several leadership roles at the U.S. Congress.