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APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN: The Fifth Tunis Exchange Conference June 10-22/The Third Istanbul-Ankara Exchange Conference June 22-July 4 and its partners are pleased to announce a series of Political Exchange Conferences this Spring & Summer:

* The Eleventh Beirut Exchange March 22-29 (Deadline I for applications, February 28)
* The Fifth Tunis Exchange June 10-June 22 (Deadline I for applications, April 20)
* The Third Istanbul-Ankara Exchange June 22-July 4 (Deadline I for applications, April 20)

The Exchanges will immerse our participants in the politics of the specific country as well as the region, with a particular emphasis on direct engagement with high-level academic, political, intellectual and religious figures active across the spectrum.


Note that tuition discounts are available for those applicants with demonstrated need as well as for alumni of our previous Exchanges. Furthermore, we can and will facilitate logistics for those students who wish to attend both the Tunis Exchange and the Istanbul-Ankara Exchange consecutively. For more information, please email

Background on Six Years of the Exchange in the MENA Region:

The Exchange is an effort by and its partners to promote direct engagement and understanding through a variety of city-focused politics conferences.

The First Exchange was launched in June 2008 in Beirut, Lebanon. Now, several years on, over 300 students from 45 different countries have participated in 20 different Exchange programs across the region, with many going on to work as diplomats in their home countries, for NGOs serving the region and as social entrepreneurs.

The Exchange welcomes applications from current students as well as professionals and post-professionals interested in better understanding the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and, we hope, their own country’s involvement in MENA.

To view previous Exchange itineraries in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Tunis and the Gulf, as well as media coverage of our efforts, visit

LEARN ARABIC IN TUNIS! To inquire about this summer’s Arabic courses convened by our partner, Mohamed Labidi ( and the Bosphore Academy in downtown Tunis, visit:

June 10-June 22, 2014
Application Deadline I April 20/Deadline II May 10
Limited spaces available/Rolling acceptance

As with our other Exchanges, the twelve-day program will engage students from around the world in a multifaceted discussion of some of the key issues facing Tunisia and the wider region. The Tunis Exchange program specifically rests on three tracks this Summer.

Track 1: Academic Seminars. Participants will attend a series of lectures with leading professors and public intellectuals in Tunisia. Topics will include, among others:

– The history and internal transformations of Ennahda, including organizational and ideological evolution since the revolution;

– The post-revolutionary evolution of the UGTT, Tunisia’s powerful labor union, and its role in politics (including implications of its role as primary mediator in the National Dialogue of late 2013);

– Composition, platforms of, and alliances between major opposition parties (including Jebha Chaabia, Nidaa Tounes, Hizb Joumhouri, and Afeq Tounes) with a view toward the next elections;

– Prospects for the next elections, including composition and current activities of the elections commission board, expected timeline of, and possible challenges for the upcoming elections;

– State of the Tunisian economy, including regional inequalities, budget transparency and decentralization, etc.;

– Institutional and legislative reform needs following the passage of Tunisia’s constitution, focusing particularly on reform of the Ministry of Interior (security sector) and Ministry of Justice (judicial sector), Tunisia’s two most problematic ministries;

– Human rights in the new Tunisia (addressing issues such as freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, status of women, use of torture and the terrorism debate);

– Salafism, its composition (political, quietist, jihadi) in Tunisia and its relationship to and implications for party politics, stability, and governance moving forward;

– Taking stock of what Tunisia has done regarding transitional justice, what steps are planned to realize the recently passed transitional justice law, and what more needs to be done;

– The role of the media and civil society organizations;

– Youth politics and activism within and outside formal party structure.

Track 2: Dialogue with Leaders. Participants will have the opportunity to meet, listen and engage leading social, political, religious and economic leaders from across the spectrum in Tunisia.

Individual Speakers Have Previously Included (partial list only):
Abdelfattah Morou (Ennahda Party)
Rached Ghannouchi (Ennahda Party)
Mehrezia Laabidi (Ennahda Party)
Imed Dehmi (President, Congress for the Republic Party)
Taieb Bakkouche (Secretary General, Nidaa Tounes)
Hama Hammami (Popular Front)
Meriem Bourbuiba (Former Hizb Joumhouri)
Maya Jribi (Hizb Joumhouri)
Adnen Haji (UGTT, Leader of the 2008 uprising in Redeyef)
Mounir Ajroud (President, Leagues to Protect the Revolution)
Mohamed Belkhouja (President, Reform Front/Salafist Party)
Habib Kazdaghli (Manouba University)
Taieb Ghozi (Imam, Grand Mosque of Kairouan)
Michael Ayari (International Crisis Group)
Ahlem Belhaj (President, Tunisian Association of Democratic Women)
Kamel Laabidi (National Authority for Information and Communication Reform)
Amna Guellali (Director, Human Rights Watch)
Bochra Belhaj Hamidi (Lawyer)
Hamida Ennaifer (Co-founder, Islamic Tendency Movement)
Salaheddine Jourchi (Co-founder, Islamic Tendency Movement)
Youssef Seddik (Philosopher)
Fabio Merone (Researcher, Gerda Hinkel Foundation)
Radwan Masmoudi (Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy)
Amira Yahyaoui (Al-Bawsala)
Sihem Ben Sedrine (Transitional Justice Commission)
Slim Amamou (Blogger, Former Minister)
Yassine Ayari (Blogger, leading figure in the revolution)

Institutions Represented in Past Programs:
UGTT (Tunisian General Labour Union)
Jibha Chaabia (Popular Front)
Ennahda Party
Nidaa Tounes (Call for Tunisia)
Congress for the Republic (CPR)
Leagues to Protect the Revolution
Jibhat al-Islah (a leading Salafist party)
Ettakatol Party
Afeq Tounes Party
Hizb Joumhouri Party (formerly PDP)
Union of Tunisian Journalists
Committee to Protect Journalists
High Authority for Audio-Visual Communication (HAICA)
Nessma TV
Kalimat Radio
Ettounsia Newspaper
Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (Les Femmes Democrates)
Ministry of Women’s Affairs
Human Rights Watch, Tunisia
Ministry of Transitional Justice and Human Rights
Tunisian Observatory for a Democratic Transition
Al-Bawsala (government monitoring NGO)
Tunisian League of Human Rights (LTDH)
Amnesty International, Tunisia
Tunisian Network for Social Economy
Tunisian-American Chamber of Commerce
Tunisian Association of Young Entrepreneurs
Governorates (meeting with governors of Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa and Sfax)
Manouba University
Tunis University
Ministry of Religious Affairs
Ministry of Finance
International Center for Transitional Justice
Tunisian Judges Association
Tunisian Lawyers Association

(To view previous schedules for the Tunis Exchanges, visit

Track 3: Two-Day Conference and Cultural Day June 13-15. Included in the tuition for the program, Tunis exchange students will participate in a two-day conference at the Ambassadeurs Hotel focusing on the upcoming elections in Tunisia and the wider political situation in the region. The conference will feature speeches and discussions led by a range of Tunisian politicians, activists, intellectuals and academics, including but not limited to (preliminary confirmations): Hamadi Jbeili, Kamal Morjane, Maya Jreibi, Adnan Hajji, Lubna Jreibi, Meherzia Laabidi, Youssef Seddik,Sihem Ben Saddrine, Hama Hammami and a number of other figures. Alumni of previous Exchanges, as well as selected members of the general public, will be invited to register for the two-day conference.

In order to encourage the most open discussion possible, the conference will be held under Chatham House rules and will therefore be off the record and closed to the press.

On Sunday June 15, Alumni of our previous programs are also invited to join our current Tunis Exchange students for a cultural day organized with one of the main arts/youth associations as well as the office of Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Meherzia Laabidi, the highest ranking, female elected official in MENA. Alumni and Tunis Exchange students will be hosted in a traditional Tunisian house in the government district for a lunch and a series of performances together with the government, NGO and diplomatic community.

Program Format:
The Tunis Exchange will be held over twelve days total at the conference room of The Ambassadeurs hotel in downtown Tunis. Students are expected to stay at our hotel, Villa 78 (, located within five minutes walking distance of The Ambassadeurs Hotel, or at The Ambassadeurs Hotel itself (, unless permission for offsite stay at alternative hotels or accommodations is requested, since most meetings will take place in the conference room at The Ambassadeurs Hotel.

Off-site meetings during the twelve days will entail bus travel as a group in and around Tunis, including to the National Assembly. At least three days of the program (June 19, 20 and 21) will entail travel to other cities and regions in Tunisia for meetings with local activists, intellectuals, academics and political/religious leaders, including in Sidi Bouzid and Sfax. The program will close at 12pm on Sunday, June 22 in Tunis.

Tuition – $1600; Partial financial aid is available for those students and individuals that can demonstrate need as well as alumni of our previous programs. All bus travel, transportation from the airport on arrival and other program costs associated with the full 12-day Exchange are included.

Accommodation – $540; Ten nights of the program will be spent in downtown Tunis, while at least two nights will be spent at hotels outside of Tunis. Room rates vary depending on arrangements, but generally fall within the range of $45 per night, per student for a shared double room (breakfast and taxes are included). Alternative accommodation, including in a single room, is available upon request. Note that the $45 room rate is for stay at our hotel, Villa 78, and at hotels in the south. A shared, double room is priced at approximately $55 per night, per student at The Ambassadeurs Hotel.

Airfare – $450, approximate from the European Union.

About the Exchange Co-Directors Nicholas Noe & Monica Marks (See Below)

June 22-July 4, 2014
Application Deadline I April 20/Deadline II May 10
Limited spaces available/Rolling acceptance



********************* and Politics In The Field are pleased to announce the Third Istanbul-Ankara Exchange. The twelve-day conference June 22-July 4 will be held over 10 days in Istanbul and two days in Ankara, immersing students and professionals from around the world in some of the key issues facing Turkey and the surrounding region. This year, there will be also be an optional two-day cultural excursion July 5-6 to Edirne,* the former capital of the Ottoman Empire.

The Istanbul-Ankara Exchange rests on two tracks:

Track 1: Academic Seminars. Participants will attend a series of seminars with leading academics, journalists, business people and public intellectuals. Topics will include (among others):

– Gezi Protests and social movements;
– AK Party and the Gulen Movement conflict;
– Political atmosphere ahead of the upcoming presidential and national elections;
– The future of Turkey-EU and Turkey-US relations;
– Turkey and the Syrian Civil War;
– The Kurdish question and the Peace Process;
– Economic reform challenges now and on the horizon;
– Turkey’s role in energy politics in the region;
– The AK Party in domestic and regional politics;
– Turkey’s constitution and justice system;
– The status of women;
– Human rights and Internet/press freedoms under attack?
– Refugees in Turkey;
– Role of opposition parties.

Track 2: Dialogue with Leaders. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and engage social, political, religious and economic leaders from across the spectrum in Turkey.

Individual Speakers Have Previously Included (partial list only):
Tariq Al-Hashimi, Vice-President of Iraq
Mustafa Akyol, Star Daily
Talip Küçükcan, Foreign Policy Director, SETA
Cengiz Çandar, Radikal Daily
Hugh Pope, Turkey/Cyprus Program Director International Crisis Group
Ceyda Karan, Journalist
Joost Lagendijk, Analyst at Istanbul Policy Center – Today’s Zaman
Bulent Kenes, Chief of Editor Today’s Zaman
Fuat Keyman, Director of Istanbul Policy Center, Sabanci University
Diba Nigar Göksel, European Stabilty Initiative – GMF
Idris Kardas, General Coordinator Platform for Global Challenges
Hasan Köni, Istanbul Kültür Univeristy
Oğuz Demir, İstanbul Trade University, Economists Platform
Burcu Gültekin Punssman, Researcher TEPAV
Faik Tunay, Republican People’s Party MP-CHP
Oktay Vural, Vice President of Nationalistic Movement Party Group
Nuh Yılmaz, Marmara University, Star Daily
Zeynep Baser, TESEV
Asaad Asaad, Chairman of Support Center of Psychological and Personal Development of Syrian Refugees in Turkey
Murat Çekiç, Turkey Director of Amnesty International
Kemal Cicek, Turkish Historical Society
Mustapha Turkes, METU
Ersel Aydinli, Bilkent Universtiy
Arzu Celalifer, USAK
Aysegul Kibargoglu, OKAN University
Lale Kemal, Taraf Newspaper
Onur Oymen, MP-CHP
Yassar Yakis, Former Foreign Minister of Turkey
Suleyman Ozeren, Police Academy
Alper Sozen, Police Academy
Ozlem Tur, METU
Zita Onis, Koc University

Institutions Represented in Past Programs:
Prime Ministry
AK Party Foreign Affairs Presidency
Secretary General for EU Affairs
Prime Ministry, Housing Development Administration (TOKI)
Information Technologies and Communication Agency (BTK)
Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA)
Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MUSIAD)
Hrant Dink Foundation
Neve Şalom Synagouge
Turkish Radio Television (TRT)
Municipality of Istanbul
Religious Affairs Presidency
Greek-Orthodox Patriarchy
Armenian Patriarchy

Program Format:
The first nine days of the Exchange will take place at a hotel in downtown Istanbul (program opens at 6pm on June 22), although there will be several bus trips to meetings arranged outside the conference center. After that, two days of the Exchange will be spent in the capital, Ankara, where a series of meetings with political and diplomatic leaders will be convened. The final day of meetings on July 4 will be held in Istanbul at the hotel (program closes by 6pm on July 4).

Tuition – $1800. Partial financial aid is available for those students and professionals that can demonstrate need, including being a current recipient of financial aid.

Accommodation – $780. Our group rate is $65 per night, per person for a shared double room, breakfast and all taxes included. Students residing in Istanbul have the option of off-site stay during the duration of the program. The hotel will be announced to those students accepted in the program.

Airfare – $400 approximately from the EU. Bus travel to and from Ankara is included in the overall tuition cost.

* Optional Cultural Excursion – $200. Participants will have the option of joining us on a trip to Edirne, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire before Istanbul located at the intersection between Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria. The additional cost for the excursion is $200 which includes bus transportation, one hotel night stay and all meals and taxes. The group will leave Istanbul early Saturday morning on July 5th and will return to Istanbul by the early afternoon on Sunday, July 6th.

For more about all of our programs, visit: and


About The Exchange Co-Directors:

Baybars Orsek (Istanbul-Ankara) holds his Bachelors degree in International Relations from İstanbul Bilgi University and obtained a Masters degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Sabancı University. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Political Science at Yeditepe University. After serving as a coordinator at Istanbul Bilgi University’s Platform for Global Challenges for two years, Orsek is currently acting as the Founder & CEO of the Istanbul Solution Center and is General Coordinator of

Monica L. Marks (Istanbul-Ankara & Tunis) is a Rhodes Scholar and doctoral candidate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. Her work, which focuses primarily on Islamism, youth politics, and security reform in Tunisia, has appeared in the New York Times, Foreign Policy, and the Huffington Post, as well as academic publications. As lead Tunisia researcher for the Barcelona-based Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT) in 2012-2013, Ms. Marks drafted “Inside the Transition Bubble,” a report analyzing international technical assistance flows to four key sectors of Tunisia’s transition. She is also the author of the Brookings Doha Center’s February 2014 analysis paper “Convince, Coerce, or Compromise? Ennahda’s Approach to Tunisia’s Constitution.”A former Fulbright Scholar to Turkey, Ms. Marks returned there to work as an instructor at Istanbul’s Bogazici University in 2013 and again in 2014. Despite frequent trips to Oxford and to Turkey, Ms. Marks is based in Tunisia, where she has also moonlighted as a freelance journalist for the New York Times, covering the September 2012 attack on the US Embassy, the February, 2013 assassination of Chokri Belaid, and other breaking stories.

Ferdi Ferhat Özsoy (Istanbul-Ankara) was born in New York City, in 1985.  He received his undergraduate diploma from City University of New York at Brooklyn College where he triple majored in History, Political Science and Education. He is currently completing his MA on International Relations at Istanbul Bilgi University and is working at the Platform for Global Challenges at Istanbul Bilgi University as an Organization Coordinator, organizing seminars, conferences and panels on foreign affairs. He is also a member of the Politics in the Field team.

Nicholas Noe (Istanbul-Ankara, Tunis & Beirut) is currently co-editor of the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s journal on the Middle East, Perspectives, the editor of the 2007 book, Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah (Verso), Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of the Beirut-based news translation service covering the Middle East media and the Director of The Exchange program which now counts more than 300 student alumni from 45 different countries. He regularly provides commentary for Al-Jazeera International, BBC, CNN and several US and European publications and is the author of a White Paper for the Century Foundation entitled: “Re-Imagining the Lebanon Track: Towards a New US Policy.” His Op-Eds on the region have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy Magazine, Asia Times, The National and The National Interest.

Yamen Soukkarieh (Tunis & Beirut) is the co-founder of the Beirut Exchange program. Since graduating in 1999 with a Communication Arts Degree from the Lebanese American University in Beirut, he has worked as a producer and cameraman for numerous Lebanese and international films, media productions, documentaries and journalists including CNN, Arte and Al-Jazeera among others.



Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 26, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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