By Victoria Jones
On March 8, 2013 Kader Sevinç spoke at an event sponsored by the University of Maryland’s Turkish Student Association. Kader Sevinç is the CHP’s representative to the EU. She is also a presidency council member of the Party of European Socialists, an umbrella party for European social democrats.
She provided an overview of Turkey’s relationship with the European Union from the perspective of the Republican People’s Party (CHP). A lively question and answer session followed her presentation, and addressed her point of view on foreign and social issues. The event was an excellent opportunity to better understand the opinions and goals of Turkey’s largest opposition party. Before diving into some of the history of her party’s activities in Brussels, Sevinç explained how Turkey would be a valuable member of the EU, particularly from an economic standpoint.
The most interesting part of the event was the question and answer portion. Audience members were curious about Sevinç’s opinions on other foreign policy and social topics. I remember her insightful response to a question on Turkey’s other main challenges with ethnopolitical dimensions: Cyprus, Armenia, and the Kurds. She downplayed the issues with Cyprus and Armenia, while advocating that progress with Kurds should occur in the most democratic way possible. I wonder what Sevinç would have to say following the recently announced ceasefire, given that there is a chance the ceasefire will create an atmosphere suitable for democratic progress.
I found Kader Sevinç very impressive as an individual. She seemed incredibly motivated and passionate about her chosen issues such as feminism. She really lit up when someone asked a question about women in Turkey. She mentioned the diversity among the status of women in Turkey, and expressed hope for more female representatives in the Grand National Assembly. There are currently 78 women in a body of 550 deputies, making just 14.2%.
It was refreshing to hear perspectives from someone who is not only female, but younger. I think it made the event more powerful since the audience was primarily college students. It was also nice to see the initiative from a group of my peers to bring in an interesting speaker. I hope to see events like this at my own university in the near future.