Turkish-Greek Relations
“Sustainable and timely”: The 7th Greek Turkish Young Leaders Symposium (16-19 June 2021)

© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

The Center for International and European Studies (CIES), in partnership with the Thessaloniki-based Navarino Network, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), Turkey Office, co-organized the 7th Greek-Turkish Young Leaders Symposium (GTYLS) from  June 16 through 19, 2021. This year’s GTYLS brought together ten young leaders from Greece and 15 of their peers from Turkey - all of them with a background in International Relations or related disciplines (MA students, PhD candidates, young PhD scholars, and professionals). 

The GTYLS is a forum for the study, dialogue, and networking for young Greeks and Turks. “The CIES and its partners aim to ensure that tomorrow’s leaders help build a framework which prioritizes and promotes trust between the two countries”, said Prof. Dimitris Triantaphyllou who has been behind this initiative from the outset. In his welcome remarks, FNF Country Director Dr. Ronald Meinardus highlighted the sustainability of the program which – as he said – comes at a timely moment as the governments in Ankara and Athens embark once more on a diplomatic initiative to overcome decades old tensions and conflict.

Due to the pandemic, also this year’s GTYLS took place online. The sessions extended over four days bringing the participants together for up to four hours a day. On the opening day, well-known Turkish professor – and expert on Turkish-Greek relations - Mustafa Aydın and Greek member of Parliament for the governing New Democracy party (ND) Dimitris Keridis joined for a panel titled “An Assessment of Greek-Turkish Relations”. Also building on that, the participants then engaged in special sessions on “Media Literacy/Confronting Disinformation” led by Eylem Yanardağoğlu, “Youth Empowerment” by Abdullah Arslan and Elini Siapikoudi and “Tacking the Challenges of Migration” by Bezen Balamir Çoşkun.

For the first time in the annual series, focus groups moderated by the experienced facilitator Andreas Kotelis were included in the agenda. Participants worked in four thematic sessions after which they presented their policy proposals. The conclusions will be discussed during the next GTYLS (scheduled for November 2021 in Athens). This will ensure, once again, the continuity of this singular Greek-Turkish program, and give participants a chance to meet again – this time in person.