Turkey’s Justice and Development Party and Alevi Engagement Policy: The Potential, and the Obstacles?
Talha Köse, SETA-DC
Gonul Tol, Middle East Institute
The “Alevi Issue” was a blind spot in the policy agenda of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Partisi) until the second half of 2007. In the aftermath of the July 2007 elections, the JDP, transitioned to a more proactive policy toward the Alevi community. An “Alevi Engagement Policy” (Alevi açılımı) has been initiated along with a “Democratic Initiative” and a “Kurdish opening”. Symbolic gestures have followed since the Turkish government initiated the Alevi workshop series. The presentation provided background information about the recent Alevi opening, and addressed three critical questions: What are the Alevi identity-based claims? What are the major social, cultural and political obstacles to addressing Alevi claims? How can the new “Alevi opening” help soothe the social and political tensions in context?
Talha Köse has recently completed his doctoral studies at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR)-George Mason University. Köse’s doctoral research focused on the transformation of Alevi identity within the post-1980 milieu of Turkey, titled “Re-Negotiating Alevi Identity: Values, Emotions and the Contending Visions on Future.” He previously worked at SETA in Ankara as a Foreign Policy and Conflict Resolution analyst, he also worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars as a scholar assistant. His areas of expertise include ethnic-sectarian and identity based conflicts, approaches to inter-cultural reconciliation, peace buildingand the Alevi issue in Turkey. He has a book titled “Iran’s Nuclear Agenda and the Middle East Politics: Balance of Powers and the Possibilities of Diplomatic Approaches (2008)” (in Turkish). Köse published academic articles in Insight Turkey, Akademik Ortadoğu, İnsan Hakları Araştırmaları. Dr. Köse also taught as an adjunct faculty at George Mason University.