Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung (BIM)

Migration Diplomacy and Turkish-EU relations

Laufzeit: 01/2020 - 01/2021

A Research project funded by the Oxford-Berlin Research Partnership.

In December 2017, the University of Oxford announced the formation of a new research partnership with four institutions in Berlin: the Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

The partnership builds on existing research links and also creates an environment for taking forward new projects across the five institutions, including all areas of academic research and also within the museums and libraries of both Berlin and Oxford.

Its ambition is to allow Oxford academics and researchers to spend time in Berlin, collaborating with colleagues in the Charité teaching hospital and the three Berlin universities, and also enable academics and researchers from Berlin to spend time in departments and colleges in Oxford.

Migration Diplomacy and Turkish-EU Relations is a research project developed by South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX), University of Oxford, Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research of Humboldt University (BIM), and the Berlin-based German Centre for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM).

The Principal Investigators of the project are:

• Dr Othon Anastasakis, Director of SEESOX
• Dr Franck Düvell, Head of Migration Department, DeZIM
• Dr Serhat Karakayalı from BIM

This one-year project is seed-funded by the Oxford-Berlin Research Partnership. In line with the objectives of this partnership, will support a series of meetings  and its purpose is to prepare a broader and more comprehensive research proposal that will be submitted to main research funding institutions at a second stage.

Scope of Research

Europe, Turkey and the Middle East are at the heart of a migration emergency which generates distress for the refugees and migrants, social grievances as well as inflammatory inter-state relations.

With no end in sight to the Syrian Civil War, the situation may worsen in the near future. Turkey is the most important non-EU country which bears the impact of the Syrian migration and whose co-operation is essential for the management of this crisis for the EU.

In this context, the crisis of 2015 triggered intense negotiations between Turkey and the EU, leading eventually to the Joint Action Plan and EU financial assistance in the region of €6 billion to help Turkey care for Syrian refugees, in return for the latter to agree to the readmission of Syrians arriving in Greece and tighter border controls.

At present, the EU is considering whether more financial aid is required in dealing with an increasingly difficult refugee problem. Germany is a key partner in all of this, while Brexit makes future financial aid from the part of the EU more difficult to commit.

Despite the deal, relations between Turkey and the EU have deteriorated especially after the EU’s General Affairs Council’s decision to, effectively, freeze the accession negotiations in June 2018 and the European Parliament’s decision to request the EU to suspend the accession negotiations in March 2019, both in response to increasing authoritarianism in Turkey.

It is in this context that this project has a great significance and promise in that it seeks a better understanding of the current migration environment and its impact on the EU-Turkish relations; looks carefully at reasons, motivations and actors that are driving Turkey’s migration policy; examines the EU’s endangered leverage over Turkey; analyses Turkey’s changing geopolitics in the region as well as relations with other external actors with a stake in Turkey’s migration diplomacy.


The project on Migration Diplomacy and Turkish-EU Relations has organized its kick off meeting on the 17-18 of January 2020 at DeZIM, Berlin which set the parameters of the debate.

The next step is the organisation of two-day seminar which will include foremost experts in the field that will take place in Oxford on 11 and 12 June 2020.

The meeting in Oxford will touch upon the following issues:

• the current migratory reality in the region
• conceptual and historical discussion of the notion of »migration diplomacy«
understanding the drivers, actors and issues of migration within Turkey
• EU migration policies vis a vis Turkey
• implementation of policies and discussion of EU concrete projects in Turkey
• linking Turkey’s migration diplomacy with other geopolitical challenges in the region and the role of external actors

Following the meeting in June, the members of the research team will arrange study visits to Turkey and Brussels aiming at putting together a bigger multi-annual research proposal and submit for funding.

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