likeminds: german-turkish junior expert initiative

likeminds – german-turkish junior expert initiative, is a bi-national exchange and visits program in Germany and Turkey. The program aims to encourage ties between young German and Turkish top performers, and includes them in topic-oriented dialogue. In addition, it aims to contribute towards creating a professional and personal network.

Focus topic for 2016

“Seeking security – in the age of human needs and global necessities”.

Security is a basic human need – providing this need continues to present mankind with new challenges. Our understanding of security has changed in recent decades to become a more comprehensive, overarching idea of ‘human security’. In the light of global challenges such as migration, terrorism, climate change and economic crises, this modern concept of security has become closely linked with humanitarian, environmental, military, and economic dimensions of security, yet without neglecting the individual person, his or her individual need for security in the form of guaranteed human rights.

As part of this year’s likeminds program, we are using current events in Germany and Turkey as a springboard for discussing security. What does security mean in a local context? What security risks is the general public in Germany or Turkey actually aware of? What individual and national security interests have come to the fore? We intend to discuss what dimensions of security are most important in Turkish and German society, what policies and areas of action are affected, and how these two countries and societies deal with risks from outside.

Likewise, we also propose to discuss what security policy interests and strategies are being pursued in view of interlinked crises in the international arena. How are we responding to regional, European and global crises, such as forced mass migration or blocking of access to water or education? To what extent are climate and the environment security factors?

The project initiative provides a unique opportunity to discuss these topics with your peers and with experts, and through one’s own observations to expand and engage with them more deeply. As a participant you will be able to immerse yourself in discourse and political processes and to engage at length with this key issue.

The programme consisted of three components:
  • National workshop in one’s own country (with a video conference)
    18. – 20. March 2016
  •  tour d`horizon in Berlin and probably in Cologne
    24. – 29. May 2016
  • tour d`horizon in Istanbul and probably in Ankara
    04. – 09. October 2016
likeminds 2015 – “Energy – fuel for economies, states and societies“

The topic of energy has, in the context of international relations, moved up to become a long-running issue. Within the European Union, energy security has advanced to be a shorthand sign, behind which is encompassed far more than merely a question of ensuring supply of a raw material which is so crucial to the survival of industrialised countries. In Germany, around the key phrase of the ‘Energiewende’ – the turn-around in energy policy – ‘green’ or regenerative energy technologies and rejecting use of nuclear power are being discussed. Turkey on the other hand, with its geographic location in proximity to 70% of all global reserve deposits of oil and natural gas is a central player when it comes to energy security / (in) dependence. A number of central questions / issues in this topic are as follows: What does the term ‘Energiewende’ in Germany mean, and how is it to be achieved? Is Turkey in a position to satisfy expectations as a new player in the energy market? Will the energy corridor which Turkey can create affect Turkey’s accession to the EU? This topic is especially interesting from the perspective of both countries, because in this topic social, political, economic and ecological debates converge, and both foreign and security policy questions, commercial and technological considerations, as well as the question of the green agenda can be brought together. In addition, controversial considerations of attitudes to life and (civil) society aspects of both countries will be addressed.

The programme consisted of three components:

  • National workshop in one’s own country (with a video conference) from 20 – 22 March 2015
  • Tour d`horizon in Berlin and Region Lausitz from 02 – 07 June 2015
  • Tour d`horizon in Istanbul and Adana from 06 – 11 October 2015

participant’s opinion pieces

➤ likeminds_opinion piece – Anil Can

➤ likeminds_opinion piece – Osman Zeki Gökçe

likeminds_opinion piece – Michael Kunkis

likeminds_opinion piece – Titus Rebhann

likeminds_opinion piece – Mirja Schroeder

likeminds 2015

likeminds 2014 – „Getting involved: Social Movements and Participation“

Mobilising like-minded people, getting together to form a group and making something happen – this is the way in which social movements function everywhere in the world. Whether it is social questions, ecological challenges, human rights or equality (anti-discrimination) topics – Germans, male or female, just like people in Turkey, regularly pick up on these topics, making their concerns highly visible to public attention and campaigning for social change.

In this sense, ‘Stuttgart 21’ and the pianist on Taksim Square in Istanbul have things in common: they are articulating political problems or protests, even if sometimes it is only symbolic; they are involving themselves in government decision (making) processes, they are themselves becoming political players and are advancing social change. In this context, social media, open source communities and social networks are playing a continually increasing part.

In the likeminds programme this year we are taking our cue from current events in both countries and will focus on social movements and public participation which inform and sometimes challenge government action. We will ask what part social movements play in German and Turkish bodies politic, and what potential are they tapping into? What, in this day and age, does participation by responsible citizens and social movements look like? What Turkish and German movements were and are predominant in the society, and in what circumstances are they active?

In exchanges of ideas and views with all the likeminds, with experts and activists, participants will follow up on these and other questions in the frame of a wide-ranging programme. As a participant you will be able to look behind the scenes of social movements, to learn more about their cultural context and to grapple vividly with political processes and players from both countries.

The programme consisted of three components:

  • National workshop in one’s own country (with a video conference) from 21 – 23 March 2014
  • Tour d`horizon in Berlin and Leipzig from 01 – 06 June 2014
  • Tour d`horizon in Istanbul and Izmir from 07 – 12 October 2014
likeminds 2013 – „Trading potentials: Shaping economic life and connecting cultures“

The topic for this year will take as its central focus commercial and business relations and foreign trade between Germany and Turkey. Trade increases prosperity, establishes contacts between people and cultures and is the life blood of every national economy in a world based on division of labour. This year’s programme will explore fully the wide and diverse exchange of commodities, goods, services and resources which is in place between Germany and Turkey and locate it in a larger – European and global – context.

It will in addition address the commercial relations which have evolved between the two countries; it will explore in depth how economic life and foreign trade are structured and directed in each of the respective countries, who the protagonists are and what the driving forces in foreign trade are.  As free trade also encourages inter-cultural contacts, knowledge and life-style transfer of all kinds and is dependent on forces in civil society, the programme will also be focused on challenges and opportunities which trading and transfer in general hold for the economy and society.

In Istanbul and Kayseri, one of the most important industrial and commercial centres in Turkey, as well as in Berlin and Hamburg, participants will gain information in dialogue with actors in foreign trade about trade and business fields as well as foreign trade policy goals and instruments. Participants will visit trading locations, look behind the scenes in businesses and critically examine questions of competition, trading partnerships and corporate cultures.

Following also the traces of historical, architectural and cultural monuments of exchange and trade, we will highlight lines of continuity leading to present conditions for (global) trading.

The programme consisted of three components:

  • National workshop in one’s own country (with a video conference) from 22 – 24 March 2013
  • Tour d`horizon in Berlin and Hamburg from 25 – 30 June 2013
  • Tour d`horizon in Istanbul and Kayseri from 24 – 29 October 2013
likeminds 2012 – „Mobility today“

Mobility is a very diverse and highly topical subject in our times and one which needs ‘young’, progressive dialogue and debate. On the one hand, mobility may be understood as movement or motion and dynamism as applied to individuals and their respective ways of life or their life-styles; on the other hand, topics such as transport, traffic and ‘smart’ infrastructure systems in metropolises and greater-area regions may also be subsumed under this heading. Linked thus into the over-arching concept there could also possibly be questions of social mobility, that is, shifts or movements in the social spectrum, demographic change, structures in towns and cities (human settlements) or also demands on and challenges to modern societies and urban life or living in general (in major conurbations / agglomerations such as for example Berlin and Istanbul).

In Germany, both physical (spatial) and social aspects of mobility or movement play a major part in political, economic and in general or overall social debate. On the Turkish side, too, it may also be contended that in view of a number of urban development and infrastructure projects – which have in some cases a model or exemplary character for German programmes and designs – mobility is seen just as much as a requirement for economic growth and innovation as it is in this country/in Europe. In the next few years there are gigantic construction projects in the planning pipe-line: In order to relieve pressure on the Bosphorus or Istanbul Strait, the Turkish government is planning to construct a second canal. Also on the drawing board are a third bridge crossing the Bosphorus and a third airport serving Istanbul.

Thus it may be said that there are common challenges: these lie in elaborating or working out modern or contemporary mobility provision services and concepts, in intelligent designs with the aim of sustainable mobility, appropriate or suitable security and environmental standards, workable organisational forms designed with the needs of people in mind for urban societies and communities and heterogeneous regional / human settlement structures for a country. Also of mutual interest would be opportunities and latitudes in social mobility (for example, societal hierarchies, economic and commercial structures, mentalities, educational opportunities, sexual orientation etc.), as well as how these aspects may be influenced and regulated.

Das Programm bestand aus drei Komponenten:

  • national workshop in one’s own country (with a video conference) from 23 – 25 March 2012
  • tour d`horizon in Berlin and Hamburg from 24 – 29 June 2012
  • tour d`horizon in Istanbul and Bursa from 07 – 12 October 2012
likeminds 2011– „Conducting Foreign Policy in a Globalized World“

Contact Person

Ute Böhr

Senior Project Manager