EPN BREAKFAST TALKS: Bülent KENEŞ (Today’s Zaman Newspaper)

  14 April 2013 10:30 – 13:30

  Fedactio @ Paleizenstraat 27, 1030 BRUSSELS


Speaker: Bulent KENESEditor-in-Chief, Today’s Zaman Newspaper

Subject: “The Role of Middle East within the Multidimensional Turkish Foreign Policy and Its Influence on the Peace Process in Turkey”


European Professionals Network (EPN) invites you for a panel discussion on Turkish foreign policy on the Middle East region and its impact on the Peace Process in Turkey, which is a peace talk between Turkey and PKK. It is clear that Turkey’s home affairs and foreign policy are interrelated. For the last decade, the foreign policy of Turkey has been shaped around the discourse of “zero problem with neighbours”.

However, on the one hand, as a result of Arab Spring, neighboring countries of Turkey are facing dramatic changes recently and they have great impacts on Turkey. On the other hand, Turkey is facing A serious matter regarding her domestic affairs and security, namely the Kurdish issue and the PKK. Since the Kurdish issue has inter-regional aspects and the PKK have several settlements in the region, a solution to this historical problem requires a multidimensional approach, including both internal and external parameters. In this context, this panel aims to address to what extent and how Turkish Foreign Policy, especially regarding the Middle East region, has an effect on Turkey’s Peace Process.

Bülent Keneş is the editor in chief of Today’s Zaman, the most circulated English daily in Turkey. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Bosphorus University Political Science and International Relations Department and completed his masters in September 1996 in Marmara University. This thesis was published as a book in 1998 with the title of “The Image of Islam in the Western Media”. He finished his PhD thesis titled “Persistence and Change in Iran’s Foreign Policy (1979-2011)” in September 2011.

He started his professional life in The Zaman Newspaper in 1994. After working in several departments of the newspaper, he worked as the foreign news director in October 1995 and as the news director in 1999. He continued his profession of journalism and writership as Turkish Daily News Editorial Coordinator, Anatolian Agency New York Chief Clerk and Bugün Newspaper Chief Editor, respectively. Bülent Keneş is currently working as the (founding) Chief Editor of the English daily newspaper Today’s Zaman. He is the author of “Iran and Terror” and “Iran: A Threat or an Opportunity”. He speaks English and Farsi.

More about his articles published on Today’s Zaman


Programme Report

European Professionals Network (EPN) hosted the chief editor of Today’s Zaman Bülent Keneş this month as additional to the traditional breakfast meetings to evaluate the changes in Turkey and in the world through an expert eye and to present to the professionals. Around 100 professionals and academics attended the breakfast at Fedactio. The president of EPN, Yüksel Kaya made a short opening speech to introduce Mr. Keneş after the breakfast. Mr. Keneş, who is a journalist and expert on Iran, has an academic background in the field. Keneş started his speech titled “The Role of Middle East within the Multi-Dimensional Foreign Policy Approach of Turkey and its Impact on the Peace Negotiations in Turkey” giving information about the recent history of Turkey and referred to the impact of this on the contemporary Turkish politics. 

He tried to explain the current situation of Turkey emphasizing the transformation Turkey went through after 1980 and the liberalisation period during the president Özal. Mr. Keneş also mentioned the role of civil and liberal society on the transformation period and moved on to the other countries in the region. He gave an account of the events and transitions both within Turkey and in the world from a multidimensional analytical perspective. Keneş analyzed the impacts of Arab Spring in the region and mentioned the possible scenarios. He underlined that the events in Syria can play a big role in the shaping new Middle East and the future of people in the region. Keneş also pointed out the role and impact of two important actors, Iran and Israel in the region and mentioned their relations with Turkey. According to Keneş, the Arab Spring has been experienced in particular ways in different countries and although Turkey has been regarded as a model by some, it is still on the path to achieve full democratic consolidation and become a state of law. He added that Turkey’s geographically sensitive position makes it crucial that it integrates the reforms in its domestic policy. Otherwise, it will lose its influence in the region to a great extent and its mission to improve will be threatened.  

Keneş responded to the questions by the guests after his speech. The questions revolved around the nuclear powers of Iran and how this might influence the future of Turkey, current situation of Syria-Turkey-Israel relations, and Turkish foreign and domestic policy, especially the peace process in Turkey.  According to Keneş, Turkey has to educate better equipped diplomats to increase its agency in the region. After the questions and answers the president Yüksel Kaya made the concluding speech and ended the breakfast talk of the month. 

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