On June 5, 2013, the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center hosted a members’ conference call with former US Ambassador to Turkey and Director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center Ross Wilson and the newly appointed Council Nonresident Senior Fellow Dr. Sabine Freizer on the current protests in Turkey and what to expect next.

The protests that began at an Istanbul park on May 29 morphed this past weekend into the largest anti-government demonstrations in Turkey since 2007. The heavy-handed tactics of the police in dealing with the crowds have undermined the image of sound management, stability, and democracy that was carefully and largely successfully cultivated by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development (AK) Party government.

Dr. Freizer and Ambassador Wilson discussed the atmosphere on the ground, roots of the protest, and the aims and composition of the protestors. The conversation covered the Turkish government response, role of social and traditional media, and the impact on US-Turkish relations. The prime minister’s role and response to these protests remains crucial. It is unclear if the government will continue to hold Erdoğan’s truculent position or pursue the more conciliatory approach advocated by Turkish President Abullah Gül and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.

Related Experts: Ross Wilson and Sabine Freizer