Turkish and European representations of the Syrian refugees: political leverage vs. humanitarian ideals
Canpolat, Begüm Ceren
Şahin, Selver Buldanlıoğlu
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The internal unrest that broke out in 2011 in Syria has caused the biggest refugee influx Europe has seen since the Second World War. Turkey, as Syria’s neighbour country, hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees. Due to its geographical position, Turkey plays an important role in shaping European refugee policy. Similarly, Turkey has largely been affected by the negotiations with the EU and by European policies on Syrian refugees. This dissertation attempts to analyze the question of how the Turkish and EU authorities have represented the influx of Syrian refugees and how these representations or constructed perceptions of ‘the problem’ impacted on their bilateral relations and foreign policies. In order to achieve this goal, the approach of “What is the problem represented to be?” (WPR) has been used as an analytical tool to scrutinize Turkish and European foreign policy representations and investigate their bilateral relations in accordance with Syrian refugee crisis policies. The methods of the research were a combined effort of literature review, an analysis of official policy documents attained through governmental websites, and a web-based analysis of Turkish and European newspapers. The research has found that despite each actor’s/government’s representation of the problem as a humanitarian issue, each party tends to prioritize its self-interests and neglect the root causes of the problem in the policy making process.