For my research, I investigated why the negotiations have stalled between Turkey and the EU and the potential consequences on the future of Turkish-EU relations. I traveled to Istanbul and Ankara for two weeks to meet with officials and scholars on Turkish-EU relations. The meetings were a result of both my personal networking and a tailored tour organized by Political Tours. The organization provided me with a guide in Istanbul and Ankara who accompanied me to meetings I had established and also additional meetings scheduled by the program. In Istanbul, I attended nine meetings with university professors on issues such as visa liberalization, minority rights in Turkey, Turkish foreign policy, the Cyprus issue, and the current state of negotiations. I also attended a high level meeting on visa liberalization between the EU and Turkey. In Ankara I met with five members of the EU Secretary General (EUSG), the institute in charge of negotiations and aligning Turkish policy with EU accession criteria, as well as a member of the European Commission Delegation to Turkey and representatives from the UK and Greek embassies. I also met with a human rights lawyer and the director of the German Marshall Institute, an organization that works to develop transatlantic relations between the EU, US, and Turkey. By drawing on insights gained during my travels and academic research, I came to understand the main impediments to Turkish accession, as well as the future prospects for EU relations.
My IPE Summer Research Grant afforded me maybe the most formative experience of my college career: the opportunity to backpack around South America for nearly three months while learning the intricacies of relevant fieldwork skills. I traveled from La Paz, Bolivia to Santiago, Chile exploring the political economy of lithium, the element that powers everything from our smart phones to our electric cars. I spoke with noted regional economists, activists, businessmen, and government bureaucrats, all of whom helped shape my understanding of a complex international industry. I was one of few foreigners allowed access to the Bolivian government’s lithium pilot plant and had a VIP seat across from the Bolivian Vice-President at one of the biggest folkloric festivals. I even got to have a little fun in the process, skiing in the Chilean Andes and mountain biking down “the world’s most dangerous road” in rural Bolivia. Of course my trip wasn’t without its ups and downs as I had my passport, laptop, and credit cards stolen, but as a whole it was an unbelievable experience. The interviews and conversations I had during the summer have been crucial in formulating my senior thesis this fall on the balance of public versus private firms in natural resource industries.