Public Affairs Discussion Group to cover Turkish politics, society

headshot of John Grabowski
John Grabowski

On Friday, March 27, the Public Affairs Discussion Group will host John Grabowski, Krieger-Mueller Associate Professor in Applied History at Case Western Reserve University and senior vice president for research and publications at the Western Reserve Historical Society. The discussion, which will be in Kelvin Smith Library’s Dampeer Room from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., is titled “Talking Turkey: Some Personal (and Historical) Perspectives on Turkish Politics and Society.”

For the past decade, Turkish politics have been dominated by Recep Erdoğan, who became prime minister in 2002 and the country’s first elected president this past August. He has asserted civilian authority over the military, while increasing the role of Islam in the state and society. Recent years have seen increasing charges that Erdoğan seeks to become a new “Sultan,” concentrating power in his own hands. Cited concerns are the Taksim Square protests of plans to redevelop Gezi Park in Istanbul and their repression, a new law that could be used to punish medical workers for treating protesters, and pressure on journalists who report on Kurdish rebels or on corruption.

He has split with his party co-founder Abdullah Gul, and his government has issued an arrest warrant for the preacher Fethullah Gülen, a longtime ally now accused of leading a criminal organization.

Yet Turkey has had much better economic performance than most of Europe, and Erdoğan was elected with 52 percent of the vote. What, then, are the key sources of both conflict and his support, and what are the prospects for Turkish politics? Grabowski will address these points and more at Friday’s meeting.

Since 1989, faculty, emeriti, students and staff have gathered on Fridays for a brown-bag lunch and to discuss topics in public affairs.

For updates and more information about the Friday lunch schedule, visit