Emory Report
March 21, 2005
Volume 57, Number 23


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March 21 , 2005
Turkish journalist Birand visits as Halle Fellow

Lailee Mendelson is communications specialist for the Office of International Affairs.

Later this year, Turkey will begin accession talks with the European Union (EU), hoping to realize its 1963 bid to become a political and economic part of Europe. Turkish membership would carry enormous social, economic and geographic implications for the EU’s current 25 member states. If admitted, Turkey not only would be the largest member, but it also would be a predominantly Muslim nation in a union whose member states already are struggling to integrate their growing Muslim minorities. A European Turkey also would push the EU’s borders eastward to Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Mehmet Ali Birand, Turkey’s most internationally prominent journalist and commentator, will be at Emory March 21–22 as a Halle Institute Distinguished Fellow to discuss these issues and more. Birand hosts two of Turkey’s most popular current affairs and news programs and is chief anchor and member of the board of CNN Turk.

In addition to visiting classes and recording interviews with Emory faculty and students for broadcast in Turkey, Birand will speak on “Turkey, Europe and the United States,” Monday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Gambrell Hall’s Tull Auditorium. The lecture is expected to draw attendance from Atlanta’s Turkish community, which numbers more than 3,000. Birand will discuss Turkey’s relations both with the EU and the United States—particularly in the wake of the war in Iraq, during which the Turkish government refused to allow the U.S. military to launch its ground war from Turkish territory.

In addition to hosting CNN Turk’s daily “Headline,” Birand is widely known across Turkey as the anchor of the popular weekly show “The 32nd Day,” a news program he has produced since 1985 and in which he has interviewed such world leaders as former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French presidents Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, King Hussein and King Abdullah of Jordan, former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, and Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, among others.

Birand stepped out from the byline and into the headlines in 1998 when he was fired from the daily Sabah after military officials claimed that he was on the payroll of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an allegation Birand denied. Other journalists in Turkey claimed the firing was a state reprisal for Birand’s criticisms of government policies against Turkey’s restive Kurdish population in the south.

Birand began his career in Turkey’s leading newspaper Millyet, becoming its European editor in 1972 and reporting from Brussels on the EU and NATO. In 1984, he became Millyet’s bureau chief in Moscow. Birand has received 40 national and international awards, including the Council of Europe’s award for “Best Reporting,” and he is a Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite of the French Republic. He is the author of eight books (translated into English, German and Greek) on Turkish domestic and international politics, including topics such as relations with the EU, structure of the Turkish army, the Sept. 12 military coup, the Kurdish problem, and Cyprus and Turkish-Greek relations.

For more information on Birand’s visit, contact the Halle Institute at 404-727-7504.