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date: 24 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article addresses the international movement of asylum seekers and refugees, particularly Syrian immigrants, and their impact on populism in Turkish politics between 2011 and 2018. The article argues that populist politics/rhetoric directed against Syrians in Turkey remained limited during this period, especially from a comparative perspective. At a time when rising Islamophobia, extreme nationalism, and anti-immigrant sentiments led to rise of right-wing populism in Europe, populist platforms exploiting specifically migrants, asylum seekers, and the Syrians in Turkey failed to achieve a similar effect. The chapter identifies two reasons for this puzzling development even as the outbreak of the Syrian civil war triggered a mass influx of asylum seekers and irregular immigrants into Turkey. First, the article focuses on Turkey’s refugee deal with the EU in response to “Europe’s refugee crisis,” through which Turkey has extracted political and economic leverage. Next, the article sheds light on Turkey’s foreign policy making instruments that evolved around using the refugee situation as an instrument of soft power pursuant to its foreign policy identity. The article concludes with a discussion of the rise of anti-Syrian sentiments by 2019.

Keywords: populism, immigration, Turkey, asylum seekers, refugees, Syrians, international migration

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