"It is a great inititiative and I believe CEST will make a major impact in the field of Turkish Studies in Europe," said Dr. Paul T. Levin, Director of the Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies (SUITS) and founding member of CEST.

Commited to furthering the independent study of modern Turkey, CEST is the initiative of Kerem Öktem, Professor for Southeast European Studies and Modern Turkey at the University of Graz. CEST is bringing together a number of leading European research institutions in the field of Turkish studies as founding members: University of Oxford, Cambridge University, London School of Economics, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), SciencesPo in Paris,  Universität Hamburg, and Leiden University.

The study of contemporary Turkey has become part of the European academic landscape in ways that would have been difficult to imagine only a decade ago. Several new institutions devoted to Turkish Studies have emerged in recent years, SUITS being perhaps the most ambitious of these. German foundations such as Stiftung Mercator and its Turkish cooperation partner, the Istanbul Policy Center and Sabanci University, now play a major role in funding high quality research on Turkey.

"The explosion of interest has much to do with emergence of Turkey as a major regional player and economic powerhouse in the last decade,” according to Dr. Levin.

“As a majority Muslim country that sought to join the European Union and enacted ambitious democratic reforms in the years after the 9/11 attacks, I also think that Turkey’s fate was seen as having broader significance, far beyond the country itself. The increasing political polarization and turbulence in Turkey in recent years only underscore the high stakes involved.”

The role of the Consortium is to convene annual high-quality academic events, create new ways of engaging with the study of Turkey and make this field more accessible to the debates in the social sciences. It also aims at creating platforms of networking and visibility particularly for younger academics through a series of awards.

The first European Symposium will be held from October 1-3 at The Centre of Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz. Titled "Populism, majoritarianism and crises of liberal democracy" the first Symposium seeks to identify and discuss, in comparative perspective, the root causes, dynamics, effects and modes of "illiberal governance."