Young Scholars on Turkey (YSOT) Program Presents
“Turkey’s Asylum Policy” with Cigdem H. Benam
Turkey has experienced various population movements in history. It has been a country of immigration and emigration and a host country for asylum seekers as well. This history has left its mark on Turkey’s settlement, citizenship, migration and asylum policies. Two most recent waves of refugees happened in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s repression of the Kurdish rebellion in 1988, the 1991 Gulf War, and the Syrian conflict. Turkey received massive migration flows especially in 1988 and 1991. Turkey’s efforts to cope with this pressure created the groundwork for asylum legislation and the EU negotiation process has also shaped the legal infrastructure and practice. Today, Turkey’s asylum policy is being challenged once again by the migratory flows from Syria.
by Melissa Deorio
Cigdem H. Benam presented research on Turkey’s policies for refugees and those seeking asylum, seeking to discover why this change may have occurred. She highlights a definite contrast in Turkey’s response to the influx of refugees during the 1991 Gulf War and the modern day Syrian crisis. She asserts four possible reasons for this shift: the Europeanization of Turkey; change in the definition of actors; change in the foreign policy of the country; change in the definition of national security and the most recent law on asylum passed in April of 2013. Accessing these four variables, Benam tests them against the historical waves of refugees during Saddam Hussein’s repression of the Kurdish rebellion in 1988, the Gulf War in 1991 and the present Syrian conflict. Benam concludes that Turkey’s asylum policy has seen both continuity and change which result from the influence of Europeanization of both asylum and migration policies as well as a shift in the country’s foreign policy and self-definition.
Cigdem H. Benam is currently a Visiting Researcher at Boston University. Benam holds a PhD in International Relations from Middle East Technical University, a B.Sc. on Political Science and Public Administration from the Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey, an MScEcon on Security Studies from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom. She was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies of Harvard University, a study fellow at the University of Oxford, Refugee Studies Center and was awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship by British Council twice to pursue her academic studies in the UK.