Event Report : Istanbul Convention & Women’s Empowerment @ European Parliament


On 15 May 2018, European Professionals Network organised a round-table discussion on the Istanbul Convention and Women’s Empowerment at the European Parliament to tackle the issue of gender-based violence. The event was hosted by MEP Elly Schlein. The speakers and most of the participants were professionals and representatives of EU institutions, UN, NGOs and human rights organisations.


Klejdia Lazri, EU Project and Communications Manager at the European Professionals Network, introduced the discussion by highlighting the relevance of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, which represents one of the main tools to protect and reinforce women’s rights within 46 signatory countries. The Istanbul Convention endorses the principles of women’s empowerment and recognises that the realisation of equality between women and men is a key element in the prevention of violence against women.


She also drew up the event’s agenda and the list of topics of the discussion:


  • The state of the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention at EU level;
  • EU legislations and directives preventing and combating violence against women;
  • The conditions of female refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced women and girls facing discrimination and violence;
  • The link between gender-based violence and women’s employment instability, unequal distribution of power and pay gap;
  • Effective practices and campaigns aiming to promote women’s empowerment and raise awareness on gender-based violence.




Julie Ward, MEP with the Socialists & Democrats Group, initiated the debate by underlying the reasons why the Istanbul Convention’s implementation process is being difficult and why some member states, including the UK, have not yet ratified it. The implementation of the Convention requires the states to invest money and resources by providing support and protection services to victims, effectively prosecuting and rehabilitating perpetrators, giving victims the right to legal assistance and free legal aid, criminalising all forms of violence against women, including stalking, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, forced abortion and sterilisation, and finally providing healthy relationships education. However, in an era of austerity, women’s rights and gender equality often go low down in the list of priorities. In fact, UK’s conservative government cut legal aid to women and funds for shelters for abused victims as part of the austerity measures.


Ms Ward noted that the most important dimension of the Convention is its recognition of gender-based violence as a result of gender inequality, and she stressed the importance of sex and relationships education by referring to her successful report Empowering girls through education in the EU. She invited all participants to be braver, to speak the truth and do the things that they know are right, because the EU offers the chance to pass progressive reports and amendments.


She also took the time to address the abortion issue, being the pro-life lobby getting stronger and stronger in countries like Poland and Hungary. One of the main opponents to the Istanbul Convention is Bulgaria, currently holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which stated that it will not be ratifying it, as it believes the Convention spreads false statements about gender and hidden LGBTIQ+ agenda. Ms Ward specified that by no means does the Convention have a hidden agenda advocating the recognition of a third sex or even for the legalisation of gay marriage, but even if it were true, it would not be a reason not to ratify it. She added that it is actually very problematic that the Convention does not address specific GBV experienced by the LGBTIQ+ people, and in particular trans people, and she reminded the importance of being inclusive and taking experiences of trans and non-binary people into account.


She concluded by reminding that if governments are not ratifying the Convention, not providing the resources to implement it properly and not monitoring it, the cost will be women’s lives.


Asha Allen, Policy and Campaigns Officer at the European Women’s Lobby, started with a brief introduction about the work of the European Women’s Lobby, an NGO representing 2000 women organisations across Europe and in three candidate countries: Turkey, Serbia and Macedonia. The organisation also operates the EWL Observatory on Violence Against Women, bringing together a group of 35 experts across Europe, and cooperates with the EU Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls, consisting in 27 organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Transgender Europe and European Disability Forum, tackling human rights and social justice issues from varying perspectives, with the collective goal of seeing the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the EU and all the Member States.


Ms Allen explained that the Istanbul Convention is the first international treaty of this kind. It was signed by the EU in 2017, and it requires states to have a uniform standard for combating and preventing violence against women and girls and prosecuting perpetrators. She underlined that the Convention recognises that domestic violence has a gender perspective and that women and girls represent the majority of victims, but it also states clearly that no one should undergo any form of violence and no one should be discriminated in any form.


Regarding the opposition to the Convention’s implementation by some member states, Ms Allen stressed that it is linked to an increasing populist, anti-EU and anti-women sentiment, which should be tackled concretely through the collaboration between civil society and institutions. At EU level, the Istanbul Convention needs to remain high in the political agenda, since violence against women is an intersecting form of discrimination, and the most pervasive violation of human rights.

Ms Allen also noted that girls and women are 27 times more likely to experience violence online, and that 9 million girls across Europe will experience some form of cyberviolence or stalking by the time they are 15. This is something that affects women’s participation in the tech industry. Furthermore, violence against women costs the EU 222 billion € a year, which should serve as an incentive to invest more in gender equality’s promotion and eradication of GBV.


She concluded by stating that the Women’s Lobby has been fortunate enough to walk alongside UN Women and the Council of Europe in some of their campaigns. She mentioned EWL’s last year event which saw the participation of the feminist icon Gloria Steinem, and reminded that women’s voices are too loud, too united and too strong to remain silent anymore, as the #metoo movement has emphasised.


Ugur Tok, Executive Director of the Platform for Peace and Justice, focused his intervention on women’s condition in Turkey. The country has been in a state of emergency since the failed coup attempt by a group within the military in July 2016, which has led to a limitation of all kinds of freedom in the country.


Mr Tok compared the 2006 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, in which Turkey ranked on average 105th out of 115 countries, to the latest one published in 2017, in which Turkey ranks 131st out of 144 countries, showing a widening of the Political Empowerment gender gap and a re-opening of the Health and Survival gender gap for the first time since 2013.


OECD’s 2017 report stated that 42% of women in Turkey have experienced violence at least once in their life. One third of all marriages are forced marriages of underage girls, and in south-east Turkey the percentage goes up to 60%. This is due to a conflict of laws in Turkey: The penal law attests that the minimum required age for a girl’s marriage is 15 years old, while the minimum age according to the civil law is 18. There are still 20.000 parents asking for a permission to marry their children under 15 years old with elder men. Statistically, 80% of the girls forced to get married are illiterate, and 97% of them drop education because of their marriage.


Another issue mentioned by Mr Tok is the imprisonment of women and mothers in Turkish jails. Following the 2016 coup attempt, 200.000 people were sacked from their jobs, and 70.000 people were arrested because of alleged coup connections. Currently there are still 7.000 academics, 15.000 primary school teachers and 35.000 police officers detained in Turkish prisons without access to a fair trial.


Mr Tok attested that, since 2016, 17.000 women have been imprisoned despite being pregnant or being mothers of new-born children. According to the Turkish law this is not permitted. However, because of the current state of emergency, the government has decided to revoke this benefit for those who are suspected of terrorism, even if they have not been sentenced yet.


The lack of hygiene, health care and privacy is a major issue for these women and their children. Moreover, they are held in pre-detention centres without the right to defend themselves by appealing to the court. These conditions represent a serious breach to human rights.




Elena Mancusi Materi, Senior Liaison Officer at UNRWA, described how UNRWA’s work is rather unique in the EU system. UNRWA directly implements its operations by providing 700 schools across the Middle East, performing 9 million patients visits every year in over 840 clinics in the region and supporting 48 women program centres. It does this by employing 31.000 staff members, who are mainly refugees themselves, serving their own communities as teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers etc.


UNRWA has been ensuring gender parity in school enrolments since 1950s and aims at countering negative gender stereotypes through education. It also targets women throughout microfinance and job creation programs.


Ms Mancusi Materi has underlined how these results are significant in terms of empowerment, since they help achieve better standards of living and opportunities for Palestine refugees, given the surrounding conditions. In fact, women refugees living in the region are confronted with GBV exacerbated by conflict, displacement and occupation.


Ms Mancusi Materi stated that 37% of married women in Palestinian territory reported physical violence and 58% of them reported psychological violence. In Jordan, 87% of married women, aged 18 to 49, who have visited public health clinics, have reported domestic violence, while 47% of women reported psychological abuse and 98% of them reported physical abuse.


Widespread social acceptance of GBV often prevents survivors from reporting and seeking support. In the light of the above, UNRWA is fostering gender sensitive organisational change within its own structure, in order to become more gender responsive in its own operations, as well as to implement good practices for gender sensitive program implementation.


UNRWA also addresses the problem of unskilled female employment through the Gaza Job Creation Programme, which aims to reach 60% of women within its beneficiaries, focusing not only on women’s employment in every cultural sector, but also in positions which are traditionally occupied almost solely by men.


In Jordan, a participatory approach has been implemented to assess gender needs and improvement of camps, streets and public spaces. In the West Bank, an educational booklet has been distributed in schools since 2015 to teach children how to protect themselves from sexual abuse.




UNRWA has defined a priority on two levels: not only encouraging refugee women to open and seek support from its employees, but also building up capacities of its own staff and their willingness to engage into this subject. The organisation’s goal is to provide adequate responses to GBV survivors and develop preventive interventions. Based on data collected through its field offices in 2017, UNRWA has identified and helped over 40.800 GBV survivors. Moreover, its main beneficiaries and staff members have been increasingly involved in gender awareness activities, as well as information sessions on preconception care. Therefore, while the organisation is acting both at the macro and microlevel, it hopes a significant progress may be made towards the eradication of GBV and the empowerment of women.
Elly Schlein, MEP with the Socialists and Democrats Group, started her speech by talking about her recent mission to Uganda with the EP’s Development Committee, where she witnessed the dramatic situation of more than a million refugees present in the area. Out of them, 82% are women and children. In these settlements, she participated to some activities funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, that aimes at empowering women by providing skills development programs and organising money savings groups.


Ms Schlein mentioned the EIGE’s Gender Equality index 2017, which revealed that 1 in 3 women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, while 75% of women having a professional job or in top management positions have experienced sexual harassment.


Ms Schlein also referred to the link between the anti-LGBTIQ+, anti-EU, and anti-migrants movements, underlying the close tie among them and the organised way in which they operate through hate speech on internet. She stressed the importance of fighting them collectively at the political level in the institutions and in strict coordination with NGOs and civil society organisations.


Following numerous sexual harassment complaints within the EU institutions, Ms Schlein, together with some colleagues, started the #metooEU petition on the web, which gained 140.000 signatures all around Europe. The petition demands taking stronger measures against sexual abuses, like mandatory trainings for all EP staff members and MEPs, as well as an independent body to which victims could safely report.


Last September, European Parliament approved an interim resolution welcoming the signing of the Istanbul Convention by the EU, while on 26 October 2017, the EP approved a resolution on combating sexual harassment and abuses in the EU, strongly condemning such abuses and calling for an effective implementation of the existing legal framework and for the provision of stronger policies. These measures proved to be necessary, since a wide survey conducted in all member states in 2016 showed that over a quarter of respondents claimed that non-consensual sex can be justified in some circumstances.


Ms Schlein stressed that education, raising awareness and advocacy are crucial in the fight against GBV. She underlined that school programs on gender equality and against violence are fundamental, because the sooner the problem is addressed, the faster positive results will be achieved for the next generation and beyond. But their implementation is not easy, she explained by indicating the situation in Italy where, even in a city like Bologna, which has always been a home for civil and social rights, some teachers have been threatened by right-wing extremists only because they were teaching programs on gender equality in schools. It is therefore more necessary than ever for the EU institutions to send a clear political message stating that this cannot be accepted, and it will no longer be tolerated.




Ms Schlein also stressed that equal opportunities mean equal treatment when looking for a job and while working. Therefore, it is unacceptable that within the EU women are still earning on average 16% less than men. She praised a new French initiative, which forbids access to public procurements for companies that are not respecting equal pay for men and women. By taking that as an example of good practice, she stated that it will be important to put in place concrete measures to make sure that we are going in the right direction in terms of promoting gender equality, economic empowerment and fighting GBV.


Ms Schlein concluded by reminding that the EU should fully comply with the commitments undertaken with the 2030 Agenda for a Sustainable Development and the newly introduced goal on gender equality. All the governments that signed the new agenda are to be taken accountable for the achievement of its goals and targets, which means that it will be essential to monitor whether there are sufficient political will and resources to put them into practice. The overall agenda is about empowering people and fighting inequalities, and this goes through necessarily empowering women and girls, which represents the core principle of leaving no one behind.


In the Q&A session, speakers were asked what would be the first concrete measure that should be taken within the EU to change things regarding equal pay and women’s place in industry.


Asha Allen responded the question by stressing that governments and institutions should have a closer look at mainstream news, because gender and women’s issues need to be incorporated into every aspect of how we conduct ourselves in society and in politics, as well as in the working environment. She also indicated the importance of further engaging in discussion, as with more discussion comes more consensus.




Another question from the audience was about the measures to be taken for women who are seeking asylum in the EU, and whether the institutions and NGOs address the question of intersectionality.


Elly Schlein responded by mentioning a resolution passed at the EU Parliament two years ago on the conditions and needs of women refugees. One of the main measures to be taken should be the provision of adequate and separate spaces for women and men, especially for unaccompanied women or mothers with children, because there is a higher risk for them in some situations, especially when they are being held in pre-removal centres and hotspots like the ones in Greece and Italy. It would also be important to guarantee stable access to health care and psychological support, because most of the times they have suffered traumatic experiences.


Asha Allen added that an aspect often neglected about migrant and refugee women is that the migrant crisis is still ongoing, and it masks a much bigger issue which is the trafficking of women and sexual exploitation. Italy, for example, has experienced an increase in the number of young Nigerian women under the age of 16 who have been trafficked and forced into prostitution and sexual exploitation. Furthermore, the European Women’s Lobby has been highlighting the fact that migrant women, women with disabilities and women from minority communities are at a higher risk of violence because of intersecting forms of discrimination, and the Istanbul Convention acknowledges this very explicitly, which is why it is crucial to advocate for all member states and the EU to incorporate the Convention in their legislation.


Author: Klejdia Lazri

EPN Panel: Women in Technology and Innovation @ European Parliament

Working towards gender equality in tech industry


Date: Monday, 7th of May 2018

Time: 14:00 – 16:00

Venue: European Parliament

Room: A5G-1


In a society where technology is taking the lead in all sectors, we believe that women need to join the technological workforce in order to help shape a better future. Although the number of young women taking part in the digital and engineering field of education is supposedly increasing, women are still the minority in a male-led tech industry. This panel discussion aims to provide answers as to why women are still under-represented in the digital industry and how to counter this digital and technological gender-gap.


Experts, entrepreneurs and IT professionals taking part in this event will illustrate the beneficial societal impact of encouraging women to pursue a digital or technological education and the vital importance of female equal participation in the technological sector in order to achieve gender equality in society and shape a better world. An overview of the actions planned by the EU to reinforce the digital women workforce and concrete civil initiatives will be presented.



13:30  – 14:00 Entry to the European Parliament ( registration )

14:00 – 14:10 Introductory speech by Diane Reisse – EU Project and Communications Manager EPN (BE)

14:10 – 14:20 Dr Konstantina Davaki – London school of Economics and Political Science (UK)

14:20 – 14:30 Katleen Dewaele – Communications and Philanthropies Lead at Microsoft (BE)

14:30 – 14:40 Angie Smets –Technical and Pedagogical Director at School 19 (BE)

14:40 – 14:50 Samia Ghozlane – President of Cyberelles Network and Director of La Grande Ecole du Numérique (FR)

15:00 – 15:10 Julie Foulon – Founder of Girleek (BE)

15:10 – 15:20 Dr Marie-Francine Moens – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (BE)

15:20 – 16:00 Q&A session



This event is hosted by Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, MEP.



Round table: Istanbul Convention & Women’s Empowerment @ European Parliament


Banner 11


Date: Tuesday, 15 May 2018
Time: 17:00 – 18:30
Venue: European Parliament
Room: A5G315

You are cordially invited to European Professionals Network’s round-table discussion on the “Istanbul Convention and Women’s Empowerment” at the European Parliament.

The Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, represents one of the main instruments preventing gender-based violence and defending the fundamental human right to a life free of violence. We believe that its ratification is crucial for the eradication of violence against women and the change in the cultural paradigm in which it occurs.

This round-table discussion aims to analyse the state of the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention, EU legislation and directives preventing and combating violence against women and good practices and campaigns promoting women’s empowerment and raising awareness on gender-based violence.

Representatives of the European Parliament, NGOs and stakeholders will discuss the link between gender-based violence and women’s employment instability, unequal distribution of power and pay gap and the conditions of female refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced women and girls facing discrimination and violence.



16:30 – Registration and access to the European Parliament

17:00 – Moderated round-table discussion with:


  • Julie Ward, MEP Socialists & Democrats
  • Asha Allen, European Women’s Lobby
  • Ugur Tok, Platform for Peace & Justice
  • Christine Revault d’Allonnes-Bonnefoy, MEP Socialists & Democrats
  • Elena Mancusi Materi, UNRWA
  • Elly Schlein, MEP Socialists & Democrats


18:00 – Q&A Session

18:30 – Networking cocktail at the ASP 3 D Bar Forum
Klejdia Lazri, European Professionals Network


Please kindly RSVP via the register button below until Friday, May 4, 2018. Registration is mandatory in order to produce access badge to the European Parliament.

This event is hosted by Elly Schlein, MEP.


Hypnothérapie pour une meilleure vie professionnelle

Hypnothérapie: un outil pour améliorer la qualité de vie personnelle et professionnelle?”


Bıen souvent, la chose qui sépare une personne qui a réussi d’une personne qui a échoué est son état d’esprit. Qu’il s’agisse d’un manque de confiance en soi, d’un état de panique, d’une anxiété de prendre la parole en public ou de tout autre stress lié au travail, l’hypnothérapie s’est révélée bénéfique pour comprendre ces comportements indésirables et acquérir un sentiment de contrôle sur eux. Pour tenter de découvrir comment l’hypnothérapie peut améliorer le monde du travail, European Professional Network (EPN) Bruxelles organise un séminaire où le psychothérapeute de renom Gérald Brassine fera une présentation sur la façon de gérer le stress au travail et d’atteindre un meilleur équilibre entre vie professionnelle et vie privée grâce à l’hypnothérapie.


Le vendredi 09 mars 2018 à 19:00



Gérald Brassine




Psychothérapeute depuis 1975.

Formateur depuis 1982.

Fondateur de l’Institut Milton H. Erickson de Belgique, 1984.

Formateur-Superviseur pendant 15 ans auprès des services de protection de la jeunesse (SAJ,SPJ) j’ai rapidement été sensibilisé à la problématique de la maltraitance et des abus sexuels (*).

Pour traiter avec le plus de délicatesse possible les victimes de traumatismes sévères, j’ai développé, début des années 2000, l’Hypnose conversationnelle stratégique conjointement à la PTR

Cette méthode a été mise au point à partir de l’hypnose classique éricksonienne, de l’EMDR, de la Somatic Experiencing et des concepts tant analytiques, cognitivistes que stratégiques que j’utilisais jusque-là dans le traitement des traumas et des psychothérapies en général.

Elle s’applique avec justesse et efficacité au traitement des traumas des maladies psychosomatiques ainsi qu’à la psychothérapie générale.


L’événement est gratuit, l’inscription est obligatoire via info@epnetwork.eu  ou cliquez ici


Panel Report: ” Professions Vital for Democracy ” @ European Parliament




“Working in challenging times”
March 30, 11:00 – 13:00
European Parliament


On March 30, 2017 at the European Parliament, European Professionals Network organized a panel discussion on the current challenges of Turkish journalists, lawyers, academicians and civil society members. The event was hosted by MEP Sander Loones. The participants were mostly composed of professionals, representatives of international justice and human rights organizations, media members and reps of journalist and lawyer associations.

EPN PANEL-1Dr. Ugur Tok initiated the panel by giving brief information on the current situation in Turkey. He stated that 7,317 academics have lost their jobs; 4,272 judges, prosecutors have been dismissed; 149 media outlets were shut down and 162 journalists have been arrested since July 2016. These figures are changing on an almost daily basis and subject to constant revision. That means the institutions that symbolize and defend the democratic values are now all crumbled.

EPN PANEL-2Mr. Ricardo Gutiérrez, General Secretary of European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) stated that they follow the cases of 152 journalists in Europe; 145 of them are currently jailed in Turkey. According to the latest survey of EFJ, %86 of Turkish journalists suspect that they are under surveillance; 83% feel psychological pressure and thus apply self-censorship; 64% have experienced intimidation by political groups. He also states that EFJ, The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and European Association of Judges (EAJ) will publish a joint declaration on the ongoing crackdown on the rule of law in Turkey. (Click here for the full statement)

EPN PANEL-5Turkish exiled journalist Mr. Yavuz Baydar stressed that the figure of 150 jailed journalists adds up to 60% of the whole world. This dramatic figure is the highest level ever in the history of journalism. He noted that Turkey entered a historical referendum era with no independent media. The public debates on TV stressing diversity, pluralism of views, exchanging of ideas have all vanished since the coup attempt in Turkey. He indicated that these types of TV programs are essential for the public opinion particularly at times of elections or referendums. Mr. Baydar stressed that the members of the opposition groups are being sentenced to starvation, to a life without dignity. Those people are losing their hope and their desire for life. Because they are being deliberately turned into pariahs, third class citizens regardless of their political color — simply because they are opposition. Baydar also thinks that no matter what result will come out from the referendum, Turkey might end up with a society that turns against each other with the poison of hatred, causing not only psychological violence but also physical one.

EPN PANEL-15Ms. Judith Lichtenberg from “Lawyers for Lawyers” focused on the role of lawyers on upholding the rule of law. She points out that in many parts of the world, lawyers that take up sensitive cases are threatened, harassed, intimidated, persecuted and subjected to disciplinary sanctions for simply doing their jobs.  Unfortunately Turkey is one of those countries. There are 7 UN principles that guarantee the lawyers’ rights. Out of 7, 6 of them are violated in Turkey. One of them has particular importance in Turkey — that is to discern the lawyers from their clients. The lawyers are accused of the charges — such as terrorism — related with their clients. In 2011, 46 lawyers were arrested and persecuted; they were all the lawyers representing Abdullah Ocalan. In 2016, the lawyers who were representing those lawyers were also arrested. After the coup attempt, the situation got much worse. There are thousands of people in prison. The lawyers have hardly excess to their clients. Some are able to see their clients one hour in a week. It is not possible to have a confidential conversation with the client. All the conversations are recorded, filmed and accompanied with a prison guard. All the documents exchanged with the lawyer are controlled by the prison staff. Just like journalists’ self-censorship matter, lawyers are afraid of taking sensitive cases. Because they know that they will be the next target.

Mrs. Elif EPN PANEL-18Alduman, president of KYM International, began her presentation by giving brief information on the civil society in Turkey. She stressed out that 1125 associations and 560 foundations were shut down since the coup attempt. She indicated that 85% of the population is not a member of a civil society because they are afraid of to be targeted by the government. The case was similar with KYM Foundation. KYM had the consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC, was the executive partner of the UNHCR, had 3 million individual donators and 224,000 volunteers before it was shut down by the government. Not only the board members but also the employees of KYM were arrested after July 15. Ms. Alduman also noted that there are around 134.000 civil servants who got sacked and these people are not allowed to work in public sphere or at any job that they can work with their diplomas. This figure increases to almost half a million when you consider the families of those sacked. However the case of detained and arrested people is more critical. There are 50 suspicious deaths and many rape allegations in the prisons after the coup attempt. She also gave the following individual example: A detained high school teacher who was denied to have access to his diabetes medics found dead in his prison cell. She also explained how Turkish embassies and consulates not only refuse to give any service to some Turkish citizens but also confiscate their passports.

In the Q&A section, exiled journalist Sevgi Akarcesme stated that the dictators behave true to type; they oppress people. Her question was why the mainstream media and most of the Turkish intelligentsia use the same rhetoric with the government since it helps enable the language of the current autocratic regime in Turkey and further worsens the situation. Mr. Baydar responded that the problem lies with an ethical dilemma of journalists and it is nothing new. A significant part of the media has always demonized certain journalists or groups, such as Kurds, since the beginning of 80s. What we are going through now is a more severe situation, though. The polarization, political fanaticism, pursuing one’s own self-interest, advocating for democracy only for your own group is merely a sickness.

EPN PANEL-20Stéphanie De Windisch Graertz among the participants asked whether the acts of the journalists that mouthpiece the government and propagate its rhetoric are compatible with the core principles of journalism and whether it is accurate to call them as journalists. Mr. Baydar responded that there are four criteria that define journalism: freedom, independence, safety and pluralism. Propagandism falls inside journalism according to this definition as freedom of expression is the bedrock of the freedom of the media. So propagandism can be compatible with journalism only when pluralism exists. But in the case of Turkey, diversity and pluralism are severely damaged because the “independent” segment has disappeared to a large extent. So the pro-government sources dominate the mass media.

EPN PANEL-aaAnother question from the audience was why the European media doesn’t write or speak enough about Turkey. Mr. Baydar told that the high priority is to show solidarity with jailed, fired or persecuted journalists. And many of the western European media such as Belgian, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Italian and Spanish media are aware of the situation enough to report about it. Also many organizations such as EFJ, CPJ, Reporters without borders etc. have been campaigning about Turkey for months with petitions, visits, conferences in and out of Turkey. They have been doing enough, but the situation in Turkey has hit the wall. As a possible solution, he suggested that let’s say if the city of Ghent adopts one jailed journalist in Turkey, the city of Amsterdam adopts a jailed Kurdish journalist and another German city adopts a Gulen-affiliated journalist, this symbolic act would lead to a social awareness of the situation and bring it to the attention of the local media and thus the civil society members. Declaring him/her as “Honorary Citizen” would make a huge impact in the international media.

Taken together, the picture emerging from the comments drawn on firsthand experience and expert remarks is that Turkey is moving away from its century-old democracy. The main takeaway is that all the segments believing in democratic values, rule of law and human rights should unite their voices and work together against the ongoing oppression, autocratic and unlawful practices. Professionals such as journalists, lawyers, academicians and civil society members play a crucial role in shaping a healthy democracy and thus they are to be protected no matter how.


EPN Breakfast Talks 30: “Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism: Characteristics of Radicalization” Dr. Nadia Fadil

Date: 08 May ’16
Time: 10:00 – 13:00
Location: Fedactio – Rue des Palais 27 / 5 Brussels 1030
Language: English
Price: 5 €

As the dust settles on the dual bombings in Brussels in mid-March, questions and worries mount over how this will affect the socio-political atmosphere in Europe and how to deal with what appears to be an act of violent extremism. The tragedy of the Brussels attacks became another reminder of how crucial it is to understand the local context that enables people to yield to the lure of extremist ideas, to understand and address core issues at the root of violence, to respond with concerted, constructive action and to understand the civil society’s role. In an attempt to take a step towards this goal, EPN kindly invites you to join us in this breakfast talk with our guest speaker Dr. Nadia Fadil.

10:00-10:30 Registration
10:30-11:30 Open Buffet Breakfast
11:40-12:30 Talks
12:30-13:00 Q&A Session







Nadia Fadil is an Assistant Professor at the IMMRC (Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre) at the University of Leuven. After having obtained a PhD at this same institute, She’s been affiliated as a Postdoctoral Jean Monnet Research Fellow at the European University Institute (2008-2009) and a Visiting Fellow at the University of California Berkeley (2011-2012) and have been a FWO Postdoctoral fellow at the KU Leuven (2009-2012).

Her primary research interest pertains to the presence of Islam as a lived and embodied reality in Europe. Her current project deals with the ways in which subjectivities of Maghrebi background constitute themselves as ‚Muslims’ through a distinct and heterogeneous engagement with the Islamic tradition. More broadly, her theoretical interest extends to questions of subjectivity and power, ethical selfhood, postcoloniality, race and secularism. On this questions, she has published extensively in academic journals (such as Social Anthropology, Feminist Review or Ethnicities) and written various book chapters in edited volumes. She has also written on the policies of integration in Flanders, on which she co-authored a book (Leeuw in een Kooi. De Multiculturele verbeelding in Vlaanderen, 2009) and has been engaged amongst various minority organizations involved with the politics of integration in the field. She is also the PI of the research project „Redefining Home” which started in February 2015 and seeks to understand new mobility patterns amongst second and third-generation Maghribi Muslims from Europe to the UAE and Montréal.


Report of the event

On May 8, 2016, EPN successfully realized its 30th Breakfast Talk with Asst. Prof. Nadia Fadil being the honorary guest speaker. Following the colorful breakfast buffet, participants took their seats to brainstorm and discuss about the notion of radicalization.

Ms. Fadil began her speech with the history of the radicalization discourse in Belgium. Her research indicates that the term of “radical” was first used in late 1990s, while the understanding of “radicalization” as a gradual process came much later. The central questions of the session were as such: What does the term radicalization do? How has it been introduced, and what effects does it produce? How is it tied with a particular economy of political violence?

According to the academician, major motivations for radicalization are existential and individual searches like sense of injustice or revenge, psychological traits such as need of solidarity, romanticism or simply too much testosterone/aggression. However, the motivations and methods of action change with historical and social contexts. Ms. Fadil underscored that radicalization is strongly tied with a shift in political violence. It fits in a new understanding of war. It might be fighting against war, but still it is a state of war. The talk ended after the Q&A session.


Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image...

EPN WORKSHOP: ” How to Present Yourself ” by Homeira Kroone

EPN Workshop

‘ How to Present Yourself? ‘

Showing the best version of yourself: Tips on self-introduction & presentation

Homeira Kroone


Date: 12 Nov ’15
Time: 19:00 – 21:30
Location: Fedactio – Rue des Palais 27-5 Scaherbeek 1030
Language: English
Price: 20 € for EPN members, 25€ for non-members


When it comes to interviews, presentations, important meetings and any situation where you need to make a stellar impression, a little bit of guidance goes a long way toward making a highly effective presentation. Getting tips about what makes a good introduction, how to go about it, how to budget your time and use body language, what kind of an impression you have on people is immensely important; and getting the chance of practicing these tips at a workshop can be a life-saver. For the purpose of assisting professionals in their careers, European Professionals Network (EPN) has organized a 2.5hrs long workshop on self-introduction and presentation with Communication Coach Homeira Kroone.









Homeira Kroone

Native Persian, Kroone left her country at the age of 19 to seek advance and improvement in her life. She graduated from Technology College in Aalborg, Denmark at the age of 27, which strengthened her rational and result-oriented mind. From the age of 30 she entered the field of personnel establishment where she acquired extensive training as well as personal development and improvement sessions, which resulted in her improved understanding of self and others, as well as increased ability to communicate with and help employees and seniors to reach their goals and purposes.

By the age of 50 she has had 20 years of experience and belief that ‘It is the mindset of individuals involved in any project, team or company which sets their activities and results. Help the individual with a tailor-made program and you help the group as a whole.’ She has been extensively training in the fields of communication (individuals and groups) and relationships. She recently moved to Belgium; and in about 1.5 years she has delivered more than 30 seminars. She has also delivered more than 300 hours of self-improvement sessions. To contact Homeira Kroone click here

Kindly register early via register@epnetwork.eu to reserve your spot as workshop space is limited.

18:30 – 19:00 Registration
19:00 – 21:30 Workshop
21:30 – 22:00 Drinks & Snacks


Report of the event

Coming together with the EPN members at the “How to Present Yourself” workshop on Nov. 12th, Ms. Homeira Kroone began her session with the unusual game of asking the participants to find certain objects she described in the room. She, then, asked them to find certain features in one another. Explaining the purpose of the practices in the end, Ms. Kroone said that familiarity with the setting and the audience is one of the key tips for making a successful and effective presentation. In order to get familiar with the environment, one can play little games like finding a “blue item” or “favorite item” in the room, or finding a person wearing glasses among the participants. These practices aim to ease and improve one’s body language and self-confidence.

As for improving and well-structuring the content of the presentation, Ms. Kroone suggested asking oneself certain questions. Presentations should always contain the answers to the questions of “Who am I”, “Why am I giving the presentation” and “What do I want the audience to take away from the presentation?” But before working on these questions, knowing and understanding the audience is crucial to be able to connect with them. Ms. Kroone noted that prior to presentations, she always researches and finds out the audience expectations and demographics. According to the communication coach, by knowing more about the audience and their expectations, and also making eye contacts to involve them, one will be able to tailor the talk to make it more interesting and satisfying.

Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image...

BREAKFAST TALKS 29: Students with diverse cultural backgrounds in Belgian educational system, Dr. Altay Manco

Date: Oct. 25, 2015, Sunday

Time: 10:00 – 13:00

Venue: Fedactio – Rue des Palais 27-5 1030 Brussels

Price: 8€

Language: Turkish


It is a widely accepted fact that adapting and contributing to society in social and economic terms is possible only through quality education. And yet, in Belgium, a country guaranteeing the principles of equal opportunities, freedom of expression and social justice, are the students with diverse background receiving quality education and becoming successful in their educational careers? Dr. Altay Manço will share his insights and experiences on the subject at a talk on October, 25, Sunday. We kindly invite you and your friends to the talk and the breakfast held before the event.

Ps. All guests attending this event are kindly requested to register by email to register@epnetwork.eu or by calling +32 (0) 2 734 7900 until ​Oct. 24, 2015.



10:00-10:30   Registration
10:30-11:30    ​Breakfast
11:40-12:30    ​Talk with ​Altay Manço
12:30-13:00   Questions&Answers












Dr. Altay Manço

Obtaining PhD degree in social psychology field from Liege University, Manço has conducted a number of researches on Turkish migration, socio-cultural and psychological adaptation and migration psychology. He has given consultation services at institutions in Canada, Morocco as well as many countries in Europe since 1986. He is still carrying out partner projects with Paris Descartes University, Sherbrooke University in Quebec and University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland. He is the academic director of the Institute for Research, Training and Action on Migrations (IRFAM) since 1996 and the editor-in-chief of the online magazine of Diversités et Citoyennetés. For a more detailed CV of Manço, please click


Report of the event

Belgium is a multicultural melting pot with 25% of the total population formed by people of foreign background and their descendants. This adds to the importance of the integration and equal education issues. Making a presentation on these matters at the 29th edition of the Breakfast Talk, Dr. Altay Manço, an academician researching mainly on Turkish migration, socio-cultural and psychological adaptation and migration psychology, highlighted that adapting and contributing to society in social and economic terms is possible only through quality education. However, Belgium needs to make certain improvements in education in order to better integrate people of non-Belgian origin into the society. Statistics show that 90 percent of the Turkish people in Belgium hold high school diploma; but only 60 percent can write a letter in French or Dutch. This puts doubts on the reliability and quality of the education they receive, Manço stated.

The European countries where the rate of vocational high school graduates is higher than many are also the countries with higher unemployment rates. Belgium is, unfortunately, one of the above-mentioned countries and diplomas do not measure true success, the academician noted. It is vital to place migrant and economically challenged students in schools in the country homogeneously. USA and Canada are the most, while Belgium and France are the least homogeneous countries in this sense. And the main difference between the two groups of countries is their approach to the migration issue. According to Manço, Belgium and France have failed to admit that they are receiver countries. The presentation rolled with the audience with questions and comments on the matters.

Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image...

Free Movement of Professionals


Free Movement of Professionals

How does it make the EU richer and smarter?
16 June 2015, European Parliament



On 16 June 2015, EPN in collaboration with ECAS and UNITEE organized a panel on Free Movement of Professionals at the European Parliament. The event was co-hosted by Ms. Eva Paunova, MEP and Mr. Jo Leinen, MEP. Mr. Selçuk Gültaşlı, EU correspondent at Zaman Media Group, started the panel by indication the necessity and importance of further developing Free Movement of labor and professionals in order to achieve a functioning single market.

2 Eva PaunovaMs. Paunova was then introduced to give keynote speech. Ms. Paunova underlined that free movement of professionals is one of the key pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy. Moreover she noted that “we do need thriving businesses in Europe and businesses need international professionals”.  The need for new legislation that promotes ease of mobility across borders was also stressed. She also introduced a few ways to help move forward. For instance, ERS has been active in 26 languages which allows them to reach a larger pool of people. Another idea was to encourage legislation for health insurance overseas. This way people working in other countries will be covered, or at the very least reimbursed. It also very important to recognize diplomas given from different countries so those who have completed their education can earn a decent living based on it.

3 Jorg TaggerMr. Jorg Tagger, deputy head of unit at DG employment gave the second keynote speech. Mr. Tagger sees the Free Movement of labor as one of the key pillars of the internal market. He explained that labor mobilization is becoming a hot topic and that the commission is proposing a balanced approach to labor mobility.  Mr. Tagger also touched on the issue of social security and described how regulations have been improved to protect European citizens working within EU and European Economic Area countries. Talking from data, Mr. Tagger noted, “20 percent of Europeans would be willing to move to another country for work”. This is a significant statistic when considering that only around three percent of Europeans work in another country. In order to encourage more people, the commission is working on a labor-mobilizing package that will also revise social security coordination. He explained some of the aspects of his package and how they will help the cause. These however introduced some challenges that will need to be addressed through careful revision and assessment of the deal.

4 Assya KavrakovaMs. Assya Kavrakova, Director of ECAS, focused on the importance of free movement of professionals as a contributor to advances in economy as well as democracy. She indicated “studies reveal that Erasmus students are better positioned to find job after graduation due to their international experience”. This shows that free mobility is not only about economics, but also about a better democracy. She also talked about how certain studies have shown to improve the overall quality of life for those who participate. They also show a higher level of participation during elections which makes them more active in society. Unfortunately, some challenges such as certain delays and requests for documents can pose as threats to the success of the program. Lack of recognition of diplomas was also stressed as an issue again.

5 Giovanni Collot

Mr. Giovanni Collot from UNITEE noted that the Free Movement of professionals aids in creating a common market and cultivating New Europeans. Immigrants that travel to Europe bring with them growth and innovations due to their experience in so many different cultures. He did point out that education, or lack thereof, can be a challenge. Nevertheless, this mobility aids in rise of democracy, creation vibrant economy and also in strengthening of the European identity.

Mr. Melih Erdem Koctepe, business consultant at Benson & Winch, took up the topic from a business perspective. He noted that there is lack of candidates in some sectors, despite relatively high employment rates. For this reason, companies hire talent from countries like India or China rather than Europe. It was also stated that work permits can be difficult for some to obtain and will slow down the hiring process. Decreasing the  need for work permits will allow Europe to expand its competitive market. Encouraging and improving Free Movement of professionals would therefore allow a more efficient allocation of resources and also cause significant economic growth.

Mr. Matthias Busse, researcher at CEPS, indicates that despite all the benefits that the Free movement of Labor would bring, there are still significant challenges. Professionals have sought to move across borders due to the recent crisis, but they experience language and bureaucratic hurdles. There is also uneven mobility of professionals. Most professionals move along East-West corridor, but there is not much of mobility along North-South. As a result of free movement, stock of Euro has increased and there is circular migration that is helping economic growth. In order to enable better conditions, we should tackle language and bureaucratic barriers. While there have been language courses offered, they have been costly and time consuming, but effective nevertheless. Moreover, there is a need for increased communication between institutions and promotion of the opportunities available.

 5 Melih Erdem    6 Matthias Bose    7 Questions

To summarize, there was a consensus that the Free Movement of Professionals is an important driver of economic growth and the creation of a functioning single market. Education of professionals was also mentioned to be very important for an economically stable Europe.  Free Movement of Professionals also strengthens European identity, entrepreneurship and innovation. Barriers standing in the way of personal, social, and economic success of professionals include bureaucratic barriers, language barriers, fear of insurance benefits across borders, and lack of recognition of bordering education systems. Various solutions were discussed to combat these barriers, the most seemingly promising to be the revision of the Labor Mobility Package in December of 2015. The revisions will include revising Social Security rules, consulting with stakeholders, and issuing a targeted review of labor mobility. In accordance to tackling the education barrier, MEP Eva Paunova and Ms. Assya Kavrakova both mentioned how improving the recognition of various diplomas, programs, and related job experiences across borders is a priority of the EU.

Authors: M.Kafi Citci, Fatima Naqvi & Uroosa Khalid


2 Eva Paunova
5 Giovanni Collot
3 Jorg Tagger
5 Melih Erdem
4 Assya Kavrakova
6 Matthias Bose
7 Questions
20150616_165303_Rue Wiertz
Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image... Loading image...

EPN SEMINAR: ” Transformational Talent” by Melih Erdem Koctepe, Business Consultant @ Benson & Winch


Transformational Talent


Melih Erdem Koctepe

Business Consultant at Benson & Winch


Date: May 27th, Wednesday

Time: 19:00 – 20:30

Where: Fedactio – Rue de Palais 27 – 5 1030 Brussels

Price: 5 €

Topic: Transformational Talent

Language: English


Nowadays, employers are asking more and more from the employees to have new skills and talents. So how do you transform your talents according to the requirements? The concept brings that anything can be transformational; therefore any talent or skill can be as such. Having transformational talent means knowing how to take advantage of multiple skills to drive different outcomes. In this seminar an essential aspect of the professional succes, being innovative and knowing how to combine talents together will be elaborated.

European Professionals Network kindly invites you to the event where Mr.Koctepe will discuss the attributes of transformational talent in an interactive environment.



18:30-19:00 Register

19:00-20:00 Interactive Seminar

20:00-20:30 Snacks & Drinks







Melih Erdem Koctepe

As a Master in Nanotechnology Engineering, Chemistry and MBA, Dr Erdem combined both his technical skills and managerial skills into the development of technology consulting business within Benson & Winch, in Brussels. Dr Erdem started working for Benson & Winch in 2012, first as a recruitment consultant, and then from 2014 as a business consultant. Previous positions include Associate to McKinsey & Company, and Research Engineer. His professional experience as a recruitment consultant made him an expert about human resources, talent acquisition and talent management.


Report of the event

On May 27th, EPN hosted a seminar with the participation of business consultant Dr Melih Erdem Koctepe, in order to discuss about the concept of transformational talent. The audience was composed of professionals from different business sectors.

Dr Erdem explained the notion of transformational talent by illustrating the attributes that people in possess of this talent hold. Among the most interesting character traits, it appears that transformational talented people are in general life learners, collaborative, storytellers, and natural leaders. Nowadays, employers are asking more and more to the employees to have and show transformational talent. According to Dr Erdem, to have this kind of talent means mostly to be innovative and to know how to combine talents together. The key to find transformational talent is to give the employees the right opportunities to reveal and use it.

After a short Q&A session, participants gathered around a few tables to enjoy networking and a small reception.