Document Type


Publication Date



Political Science



Publication Title

E-International Relations


Turkish Demonstrations and International Relations

Starting in late May, policing of demonstrators in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and neighboring Taksim Square spiraled out of control. Excessive use of tear gas and brute force, along with arrests of doctors and lawyers helping demonstrators, produced sympathetic protests in many of Turkey’s major cities. Peaceful demonstrations against runaway commercial development became a broader movement, mainly of young people, organized via word of mouth and social media, and fueled by the government’s abrasive responses. Among the aspects most reported internationally, much of it has been the provocative populist rhetoric from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and others close to him, and Turkish media’s weak or absent coverage of the demonstrations and crackdowns. On a more positive note, there have been celebrations of the creativity of the protesters as they find ways to spread their messages, to subvert the rhetoric directed at them, and to circumvent police violence.

These events are of interest and consequence for students of International Relations in several ways. This article discusses two: possible effects on Turkey’s foreign relations and international factors that have contributed to the unrest.


This published version is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit E-International Relation's Website.

© 2013. This publication is made available under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license: