The Middle East Institute's Center for Turkish Studies and the Institute of Turkish Studies at Georgetown University presented a panel discussion with Oya Dursun-Ozkanca and Doga Eralp that was moderated by Daniel Serwer.
Dursun-Ozkanca, an assistant professor of political science and the director of the international studies minor program at Elizabethtown College, discussed the ways in which Turkey is leveraging its soft power in the Balkans to strengthen Turkish diplomatic and political influence in the region. She argued that Turkey's ambitious foreign policy in the Balkans has had a mixed record. However, Turkey is largely viewed as a friendly nation in the region, as it pursues a foreign policy that complements European Union aspirations for the Balkans. Ozkanca noted that Turkey can use its soft power advantage in the Balkans to reinforce EU and NATO objectives in the region. However, she pointed out that if Turkey's accession to the EU remains deadlocked, Ankara might be tempted to split with EU and NATO frameworks in order to enhance its own autonomous political leverage in the Balkans.
Doga Eralp, a consultant for the World Bank Group in Washington, contrasted Turkey's relative success as a mediator in the Balkans with Turkey's failure as a mediator in the Middle East. Eralp argued that Turkey has overestimated its capacity as a kingmaker in the Middle East. He pointed out that Turkey can apply lessons learned from its experiences in the Balkans to current situations in the Middle East. In the Balkans, Turkey kept a low profile while supporting larger international frameworks and building strong economic relations in the region.