The Wilson Center wishes to express its dismay that several of our staff, fellows, and conference participants have been the object of unfounded accusations as a result of a seminar they took part in on July 15-17, 2016, and we categorically reject them. The Center's Middle East Program, led by respected scholar Dr. Henri Barkey, organized this meeting of scholars and think tank experts together with the Global Political Trends Center of Kultur University in Istanbul to discuss Iran’s relations with its neighbors one year after the nuclear agreement. It was an academic meeting focused on regional issues.

The small group included experts and nationals of several of the key neighbors of Iran, and they explored Iran's relations with the Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt as well as Turkish-Iranian relations. The discussion was an open exchange of views among seasoned foreign policy experts to share insights and understanding about a major international development.  

The seminar had no relationship whatsoever to the tragic events that occurred the night of July 15.  While the meeting’s Turkish and international participants attempted to track the events in the media as they transpired, the meeting, which took place on the island of Buyukada in Istanbul, was very much removed from the center of the crisis and had no connection to it. The Wilson Center is a non-partisan institution dedicated to dialogue and research on major global issues.

Turkey has long been an attractive location for scholarly meetings, in part because of the quality and caliber of Turkey's academic and civil society institutions, and in part because of its natural beauty and convenient location. There are probably thousands of international meetings in Turkey each year, organized by international non-governmental organizations or by Turkish institutions.  It would be a great loss to Turkey's international reputation and to its contribution to global democratic civil society were Turkey's own fine scholars to be excluded or at risk for participating in such valuable exchanges.