Çiğdem Üstün, Ph.D.


Associate Professor

Nişantaşı University

Year of PhD: 2007

Country: Turkey

About Me:

Çiğdem Üstün, is a part time lecturer at TOBB ETU and holds a PhD in European Studies from the University of Limerick (Ireland) on Comparison of EU and Turkish Security Cultures. She got her associate proffesorship in 2014 on EU Studies. Her research interests are EU-Turkey relations, EU-Turkey neighbourhood policies. 

Research Interests

European Politics

Foreign Policy

European Neighbourhood Policy

Turkey-EU Relations

Countries of Interest



Journal Articles:

(2017) Can EU Act as a Democracy Promoter? Analysing the Democratization Demand and Supply in Turkey-EU Relations, Romanian Journal of European Affairs

The EU’s role to assist Turkey in its democratization efforts has been debated during Turkey’s candidacy. However, in the second decade of the 21st century, this role of the EU lost its visibility while Turkey seemed to lose its interest in reform movements. This paper, inspired by Pevehouse, defines the EU as a supplier of democratization mechanisms and Turkey as an actor in need. Although lack of enthusiasm and disengagement have come to characterize Turkey-EU relations, this study aims to demonstrate that there are differences between the governing and the opposition actors’ views on the EU and its role in the democratization of Turkey. Data collected from the speeches of opposition parties’ parliamentarians between 1 January 2011 and 31 August 2016 demonstrates the similarities observed in these parties’ concerns regarding democratic practices and the perception of the EU as an actor strengthening democracy, while indicating that the EU, as a supplier, overlooked their concerns during the process

(2012) Analysis of Turkey's Relations with the EU and the US in the light of2011 Arab Revolts, Hellenic Studies

Arab revolts have created a new political environment for Turkey, in a region where it has just started to be a more dynamic and active player with multilateral aims. Economic problems, unemployment, political oppression and corruption created social unrest in Turkey’s neighborhood, and jeopardized its established financial and economic ties with these countries. Before these revolts, there had been debates on the orientation of Turkish foreign policy, about Turkey turning to the east while abandoning its historical legacy of being a loyal western partner. But it has been observed that although there have been differences between the EU, American and Turkish policies, methods and attitudes towards the regional countries, Turkey has put effort into balancing its position, both as a regional country and as a western partner in NATO, while showing harmonization with the EU’s neighborhood policy. This balance has required economic, political and military efforts’ coexistence in the application of policies towards the region, the EU and the USA. This paper summarizes the historical legacies of Turkey’s relations with its western partners and analyzes these in relation to the uprisings in its near neighborhood.

(2012) Turkey Between Environmental Protection and Energy Security: A Regional Perspective, Insight Turkey

Today, states not only find it necessary to secure energy supplies but also to address environmental threats due to climate change, decrease in biological diversity, concerns over water resources, and increasing individual and industrial energy needs. In this framework, Turkey is also focusing on environment and energy policies in its relations with its neighbors. Droughts, decreases in water resources, transit passage of oil tankers through the Black Sea and the Turkish Straits and a decline in biodiversity force Turkey to emphasize the access and use of environmentally friendly energy. However, economic and geopolitical concerns are also playing a crucial role in agreements with the energy producing countries. This paper demonstrates the dichotomy between energy and environment policies in the Black Sea region and Turkey, with references to international and regional needs.

(2011) Energy cooperation between import dependent countries: Cases of Italy and Turkey, Perceptions Journal of International Affairs

As energy dependency increases in Europe, Turkey and Italy found it necessary to cooperate on pipeline projects to secure Europe’s energy supply and to increase their role as transit countries in the Mediterranean and southeast Europe. At the end of the 1990s Italian and Turkish energy companies started to collaborate on such projects as Blue Stream, SamsunCeyhan, and Interconnector Turkey-GreeceItaly (ITGI). In these pipeline projects- both crude oil and natural gas- Russia has been a major player since it is one of the main energyproducing countries in the region and has a significant role in the energy policies of other energy-producing countries in the Caspian and the Caucasus. However, the competition among the regional countries in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean has decreased the effectiveness of the collaborative projects of Italy and Turkey. Thus it is argued that there is an urgent need for cooperation at the regional level- especially between Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine and Moldova- in order to secure the energy supply, and to diversify the routes and resources

(2010) Europeanisation of foreign policy: The Case of Turkish Foreign Policy towards the Black Sea Region, Journal of Southeast Europe and Black Sea Studies

Turkey's efforts to initiate an active foreign policy towards the Black Sea region in the 1990s were scuttled by Russian influence and an international environment inconducive to multilateralism. When security needs changed in the twenty‐first century and the enlargement of the EU reached the Black Sea, a multilateral ...

(2010) EU and Turkish Neighbourhood Policies: Common Goals, CRIA

This paper aims to explain the relations of Turkey and the EU with the shared neighborhood countries; to analyze the compatibility of Turkish and EU neighborhood policies; and to demonstrate the need for these two actors to work together in order to achieve credible results in their neighborhood policies

Book Chapters:

(2016) Turkey's Policies in its Overlapping Neighbourhood with Russia and the EU, Palgrave Macmillan

Turkish, Russian and the European Union neighbourhood collides where all three are making efforts towards creating a ring of “friends”, either through hard or soft power instruments. In the 1990s, the EU had a hands-off attitude towards the Black Sea region, an area in which Turkey wanted to make a name for itself as a proactive actor. Following the 1990s Turkey started focusing on its soft power potential as well. In this framework, this chapter will focus on the dynamics of Turkish foreign policy while answering the following questions: 1) How does Turkey perceive the other two actors? 2) How does Turkey see its own role? 3) How does Turkey define its changing foreign policy in relation to its EU accession ambitions? 4) How does Turkey define its changing foreign policy in relation to its EU accession ambitions?

(2016) Global Governance and International Security Organizations: The OSCE and NATO, Peter Lang

Introduction of the concepts such as governance and global governance pushes the International Relations scholars to think on the possibilities of including non-state actors in the international system not only as passive susceptible elements but also as active key actors. In the economic and financial sectors, both at the domestic and international levels, non-state actors such as multi-national companies are considered as important players. Starting with the 1990s, participation of civil society organizations in the security related issues became a topic of discussion. As the focus on state security shifted towards human security, the importance of non-state actors in the new security governance structures increased. With this assumption in mind, the following paper aims to analyse two main international security organizations, the OSCE and NATO and their relationship with the non-governmental organizations. In both of the organizations, civil society participation is considered as a must for keeping peace and security. The paper focuses on following issues; the importance of how welcoming the international institutions are towards the NGOs, the changes in the security understanding, application of governance at the domestic level by members of these institutions, increase in democratic forms of governance, the effect of hard and soft security issues as well as the distinction between high and low politics. The chapter will demonstrate that the international organizations working on low politics issues are able to include NGOs in their structures easier than the organizations, such as NATO, dealing with high politics matters. The paper is divided in three main parts: literature on global governance and civil society at the international level, the NATO and the OSCE. The comparison of these two organizations is detailed in the conclusion part of the paper.

Book Reviews:

(2017) Turkey as a Mediator: Stories of Success and Failure, Journal of Southeast Europe and Black Sea Studies

As part of Turkey’s rhythmic diplomacy, mediation has been one of the key words of Turkish foreign policy since JDP won the elections at the beginning of the 2000s.


(2017) Twitter as a Platform to Reflect Eurosceptic Views in Turkey, E İR

In 2016, one of the main discussion topics in Turkey-EU relations has been the EU-Turkey Statement on 18 March 2016, known as the migrant or refugee deal which foresaw prevention of illegal immigration as well as visa liberalization for Turkish citizens. The acceleration of talks between Turkish and European leaders gave false hope to EU supporters and contrary to expectations the deal did not improve relations. After the deal was announced, it became the main story both at the conventional and social media outlets in Turkey. Since 2011, usage of Twitter has increased steadily and has become the second social media outlet used after Facebook in Turkey. In spite of the blockage against Twitter or slowing down of the services during social events, it continued to be used widely through VPNs. Twitter became a very popular arena especially for urban Turkey to express views on topical issues such as the migrant deal. Before and after the deal not only Eurosceptic attitudes but also Eurorejectionist ones became visible. The analysis demonstrates that the political discourse is feeding these attitudes and reflected in the social media messages.

(2016) A Deal to End “the” Deal: Why the Refugee Agreement is a Threat to Turkey-EU Relations, GMF US On Turkey Series

(co-author Özgehan Şenyuva) The latest blow to the Turkey-EU refugee deal came on May 24, 2016, from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He announced that “If that (the visa exemption) is not what will happen... no decision and no law in the framework of the readmission agreement will come out of the parliament of the Turkish Republic.”[1] Was this a surprise? Not really. Problems with the deal were obvious from the outset, and now the agreement is not only at risk of failing, but also risks damaging EU-Turkey relations as a whole.

(2016) Russia-Turkey: from honeymoon to rivalry a return to the ghosts of the past?, Cicero Foundation

Turkish-Russian relations have experienced ups and downs for centuries. The election victories of Putin in Russia and the Justice and Development Party in Turkey at the beginning of the century opened a gate for strengthening relations through increased trade, economic activities, and diplomatic relations - including visa-free travel. However, the drastic changes in the neighboring regions, as well as Turkish and Russian aspirations in the wider Black Sea area and the Middle East region, brought back the question of rivalry between the two states. Arab uprisings, the Ukrainian crisis, changing governments in the southern Mediterranean countries, civil war in Syria, a growing number of migrants from the region heading to the EU countries, and the downing of a Russian warplane, made it possible for the ghosts of the past to reappear - not only in the relations between Turkey and Russia, but in the whole region.

(2016) Moving away from the West or Normalization of Relations?: Comments on Turkey-Russia Rapprochement, Marmara University

In November 2015, the shooting down of Russian jet at the Syrian-Turkish border initiated a new phase in Turkey-Russia relations followed by economic sanctions. In the last decade, the literature on Turkish foreign policy started to utilize the trading state metaphor, which was also demonstrating Turkey’s soft power emphasizing political economy in revising the relations with neighbour states. Davutoğlu, even before he became the FM and PM, defended the possible increased role of Turkey in its region via increased economic, political and social relations. After the Arab revolts, Turkey’s relations with not only Middle Eastern neighbours but also with Russia started to be challenged. After Davutoğlu’s resignation, drastic changes in Turkish foreign policy are observed including policies towards Israel and Russia. Rapprochement with Russia was perceived as an alternative to Turkey-EU relations by some, while others perceived it as normalization of relations to get out of the stranded position that Turkey found itself. This paper aims to examine these perspectives while restating the importance of balance in Turkish foreign relations.