Istanbul Policy Center  (2017)

Dialogue and Sustainable Conflict Resolution in the Kurdish Question and Polarization in Turkey Project

There has been an increasing level of tension in Turkey in recent years. Lack of sufficient platforms for timely and inclusive debates surface as one of the most pertaining issues that need to be tackled to ensure democracy.  The 15 July 2016 coup attempt resulted in the further shrinkage of the existing spaces for discussion as a result of mass arrests and suspensions as well as the closure of numerous institutions including several civil society organizations. This project aims to support enhanced political dialogue and conflict resolution through research and transformative mediation techniques to be able to help contain Kurdish question and polarization as the two main hurdles for stability and democracy in Turkey.

The project builds on the findings of the Academic Research into Post-Coup Opportunities on Conflict Resolution and Democracy Project, a project conducted by the IPC between October 2016 and April 2017. Based on extensive primary data gathered through five workshops organized in Istanbul, Ankara and Diyarbakır with about 100 participants and face-to-face interviews with 22 participants from the bureaucracy, academia, civil society, business circles, and the media, the study found that lack of inclusiveness, empathy, representation, strong civil society, and the existence of a polarizing language in political debates come to the fore as the biggest hurdles for conflict resolution and democracy in Turkey vis-à-vis polarization and the Kurdish issue.

Building on these findings, Dialogue and Sustainable Conflict Resolution in the Kurdish Question and Polarization in Turkey Project aims to provide spaces for inclusive debate and dialogue through the “empowerment and recognition” of participants from different circles by relying on “Transformative Mediation” as a method of fostering sustainable conflict resolution and democracy. The project also aims to contribute to democratization through the facilitation of dialogue and the production of quality information for relevant stakeholders.