Metropolis Symposium

Symposium: Turkey at the Crossroads of Migration: Reappraising Traditional Discussions

A program offered by the International Metropolis Project, the City of The Hague, and MiReKoc at Koç University in Istanbul


The International Metropolis Project in collaboration with the City of The Hague and MiReKoc at Koç University in Istanbul is offering a special symposium on Turkey’s recent position as a migrant sending, receiving and transit country. The program will take place over three afternoons at the Metropolis conference and will comprise six workshop sessions. Delegates are welcome to attend all six sessions.


Prof. Ahmet İçduygu, Director of MiReKoc, Koç University, Istanbul, email


Over the past six years, the civil war in Syria and its resulting unprecedented levels of human migration to Turkey have put that country high on the agenda of the international migration community. Turkey’s role in the Eurasian migration system is not new, first and foremost because of the Gastarbeiter movements that shaped many of the European cities following the 1960s and, later, because of its role as a transit country between east and west. It is within this context that it is necessary to reappraise the traditional discussions on Turkey, by elaborating the new patterns of mass influx, global justice and rising nationalisms. The panels will evaluate and test approaches on Turkey’s position as a migrant sending, receiving and transit country within current regional geo-political dynamics and new ways of managing different patterns of migration.

Program Tuesday September 19

Turkey as a Migrant Sending Country: Old and New Interactions between State and Migrants
Traditionally a country of origin, Turkey has been witnessing the emergence of new patterns of emigration, as well as a transformation of the state’s relations with its citizens living abroad. This panel will bring together discussions from the academy, civil society, and public policy to explore the changing migration flows from Turkey and the interactions between migrants and the home state. 

Chair: Ahmet Icduygu - Koc University

  • Bernd Geiss - Former Head of Commission for Migration, Refugees and Integration in Germany, "Migration of Turkish workers and their families to Germany from 1961 until today"
  • Can Ünver -  Antalya AKEV University, "Turks abroad: Diasporas or Transnational Communities?"
  • Christiane Timmerman - Universiteit Antwerpen, "Changing migration aspirations in Turkish chain migration towards Europe"

Damla Bayraktar Aksel - Koç University, “Turkish state and its ‘diasporas’ in the post-2000 period

Program Wednesday September 20

Turkey’s Long Experience as Destination: From Temporariness to Integration
Although the emergence of Turkey as a country of destination dates back to the 1990s, it has until recently been characterized by temporariness. The protracted conflict in Syria and the unplanned long-term stay of Syrian citizens in Turkey is pushing the state and society to adopt a new stance on migration, particularly in relation to the challenges of integration. This panel will concentrate on the shift in policy making and public opinion from the expectation that migrants and refugees are in Turkey for a temporary time period to ongoing long-term settlement patterns and the need for integration measures. The discussion will bring to the table the potential incompatibilities between central and local governance.

Chair: Jan Rath - Universiteit van Amsterdam

  • Aysen Üstübici - Koç University, “Local responses to the settlement of refugees: findings from two districts of Istanbul”
  • Frank Duvell - University of Oxford, "Contested conceptualisation of Syrians in Turkey: guests or refugees and harmonisation or integration?"
  • Murat Erdogan - Hacettepe University, "Syrians in Turkey: A Framework for a Common Life"
  • Sebnem Akçapar - Koç University, "Between Citizenship Debates And The Crisis Of Integration: Syrian Forced Migrants In Two Metropolitan Cities In Turkey"

Program Thursday September 21

Turkey’s Mobility/Immobility and Rights in the Context of EU-Turkey Relations
On the background of emerging border security concerns in the EU and the expansion of legal and policing measures in this respect, the irregular migration flows have become a highly politicized issue both for Turkish and European audiences. In this panel, this topic will be brought to the table with regard to the rights of different groups to mobility, their accessibility to it and lack thereof. The discussions will be positioned around the ongoing negotiations and confrontations between Turkey, the EU and its member states.

Chair: Deniz Senol Sert - Ozyegin University

  • Ahmet Içduygu - Koç University, "Turkey's Migration Transition and Its Implications for the Euro-Turkish Transnational Space"
  • Gamze Avci - Universiteit Utrecht, "Debates on Turkey's Mobility Rights: Differences and Dynamics within the EU"
  • Orçun Ulusoy - Free University in Amsterdam, "Human Cost of the Statement"
  • Saime Özçürümez - Bilkent University, "International Protection Regimes and Migration Governance: The Before, After and Beyond of the EU-Turkey Deal"

More information

For more information about this Metropolis Symposium, please touch base with MiReKoc coordinator, Damla Bayraktar,, +90-212-338-2109