Roundtable Meeting: The Role of Language, Media and Identity in Conflict Resolution, Istanbul, 8 November 2014

Istanbul Bilgi University and DPI Roundtable Meeting: ‘The Role of Language, Media and Identity in Conflict Resolution’ Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey, 8 November 2014 The Democratic Progress Institute (DPI) in partnership with Istanbul Bilgi University last weekend held a roundtable meeting at Bilgi University in Istanbul, Turkey, on the subject of Language, Media and Identity in Conflict Resolution. The aim of the roundtable was to examine the role of language, media and identity in conflict resolution and democratic advancement. This activity took place following feedback from participants during previous comparative study visits to the UK and in particular, Wales that further examination of the subjects of Language, Media and Identity within the wider context of our Turkey programme was necessary. Participants included academics focusing on issues of language and identity within the Turkish and Kurdish contexts, locally and nationally focused journalists and high level media representatives, representatives of think tanks focusing on issues of language, media and identity within democratic processes and governance within Turkey, Ministry of Education and other government advisors, policy advisors, and civil society leaders from across Turkey. A number of senior international diplomats and Ambassadors from international embassies also attended the meeting including representatives from the British, Irish, Dutch and Swiss Embassies and representatives from the EU Delegation to Turkey. Other international guests attended on behalf of international organisations addressing questions of language, identity and the media in conflict resolution and democratic transitions. Panel speakers at the roundtable included international and Turkey based conflict resolution experts and practitioners familiar with the subjects of language, media and identity. International speakers included David Harland, Chief Executive Officer at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva former Director of the Europe and Latin America Division, UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, former Acting Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti, Pristina; and in East Timor respectively, former Senior Policy Advisor with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as that of Political Advisor to Commander UN Protection Force and Head of Civil Affairs for the UN in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a widely published author on issues of conflict and international relations. Also speaking was Professor Ned Thomas, a Drafter of the Council of Europe Charter of Regional or Minority Languages and of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, Founder and President of the Mercator Institute for Media, Languages and Culture, at the University in Wales, Aberystwyth; Author; former President of Welsh PEN and Former Director of the University of Wales Press, and formerly a Journalist with Times Newspapers as well as Editor of the British Government’s publication Anglyia. Speakers from Turkey included academic and recipient of the Kurdish Institute Recipient of the 2014 Feqi Huseyin Sarnıç Language Award, Ronayi Önen, and Karin Karakaşlı, a Novelist and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Agos Newspaper. Moderators and other contributors were President Erdoğan’s Wise Persons Committee Member Yılmaz Ensaroğlu of SETA; Aydın Uğur, Dean of Istanbul Bilgi University Social Sciences and Humanities Faculty; Rector of Istanbul Bilgi University, M. Remzi Sanver, Kenan Çayir, Head of Istanbul Bilgi University’s Sociology Department, and Deputy Director of DPI, Catriona Vine. A dinner reception was hosted by Istanbul University for participants and international delegates following the activity. As with all of DPI’s activities, a full record of this meeting will be published on our website. For any further information please contact DPI’s Head of Programmes and Research Eleanor Johnson at