ESR 6 Blog March/April 2023: Bilge Hasdemir

The Council of Europe Summit took place in Reykjavik on May 16th -17th. With the traffic and mobility restrictions in downtown Reykjavik and tight security measures, the city seemed ready to host EU leaders. The summit was just two days after the first round of Turkey’s presidential elections in which none of the candidates passed the %50 vote threshold so it was agreed the election would go to a runoff on May 28th.


During the first round of the election on May 14th, many irregularities had been noted during voting, counting and tabulation[1]. But actually, the candidates even could not manage to arrive at the election date(s) with fair conditions and equal opportunities or resources. The state resources were apparently mobilized to favor the dominant party and its leader, like the public news channel Trt news with immensely unfair allocation of airtime to the candidates. The media was, and still is, largely under the control of the dominant party so there were both biased media coverage with suppression of pluralism in the media and also restrictions on the freedom of speech.[2] The digital media was also dominated by an army of paid trolls circulating fake news and misinformation that accused the oppositional coalition of having links with ´terrorism´ and undermining ´family values´.


Despite Turkey being a member of the Council of Europe, the summit in Reykjavik remained silent  on the election fraud, human rights violations, criminalisation of The People´s Democratic Party & Green Left Party, censorship,  hate speeches against the LGBTIQA+ community and many other acts destroying any prospects for democracy that had been reported during the campaigns and election process. The European members of the Council rather seemed to prefer to show their criticism by tightening the mobility restrictions for Turkish passport holders – the rejection of the visa application has become increasingly common. And the major reason why visas are denied is suspicion that applicants might not return to their home country or the country of origin.


While further visa restrictions have been applied to Turkish passport holders on the grounds of the “existence of a migratory risk,” EU leaders send their congratulations to Turkey on the result of the runoff election, which in fact ensures the country´s autocratic and conservative turn. While leaders around the world were sharing their interest in strengthening the strategic relationship between the EU and Turkey, a group of people were shouting for the execution of the imprisoned Selahattin Demirtas, former co-chair of the People´s Democratic Party (HDP), during the President of Turkey´s victory speech on May 28th. The speech was interpreted by many as a worrying signal of very difficult times ahead, especially for women, Kurds, the LGBTIQA+ community, ethnic and religious minorities, and all political prisoners.


Some friends and colleagues, who followed the election process closely and know that FEINART is close to ending, have asked about my future plans. But I do not feel like I am in a position to make any plan for the future without having any clue about if/where I will be able to find a job, if/what further visa restrictions will be introduced, and if/how I will manage to overcome the barriers to labour mobility. I am aware that mobility is of great importance both in the culture sector and academia, as a tool to create, to connect, to explore, to learn and to share. And the resources that you can have access to, can vary depending on the conditions such as country of residence, residency status, citizenship, etc. But I am not in a position to willingly choose where to reside and await for opportunities, or to be freely part of a cultural mobility network. I guess the most fixed thing on my calendar at the moment is the end dates of my current visa and work permit that grant me access to the essential research resources in my country of research. Then the future is full of uncertainty.



[1] see the report by OSCE:

[2] see the report by RSF:ğan-has-used-his-control-media-rig-turkiye-s-elections

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.