Executive and Supervisory Board

Sinan Ülgen

Chairman, EDAM

Sinan Ülgen graduated in 1987 from the University of Virginia with a double major in computer sciences and economics. He undertook graduate studies at the College of Europe in Brugge, Belgium where he received, in 1990, a masters degree in European economic integration. He then joined the Turkish Foreign Service as a career diplomat. In 1992, he was posted to the Turkish Permanent Delegation to the European Union in Brussels where he became part of the team that negotiated the Turkey-EU customs union.

Ulgen is the founder and managing partner of Istanbul Economics. The consultancy specializes in market entry strategies for international companies, political and economic risk analysis related to Turkey and regulatory affairs.

Ulgen is also the chairman of the Istanbul based think tank, Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels. His research and opinion pieces have been published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Center for European Policy Studies, Center for European Reform, the Atlantic Council, German Marshall Fund, Brookings and the World Economic Forum as well as newspapers such as Le Figaro, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, European Voice, Project Syndicate and the International New York Times. He is also the co-author of a book on Turkey-EU relations with Kemal Dervis and a frequent commentator on Turkish affairs in the international press. Ulgen served on the academic advisory board member of the NATO Defence College in Rome. He was a member of the Europe Council of the World Economic Forum. He was also a member of the international policy experts group setup by the NATO Secretary General Rasmussen.

Ussal Şahbaz


Ussal Sahbaz’s career includes leadership positions at corporate, non-profit and policy-making worlds. Ussal is a thought leader at the intersection of innovation & technology, regulation and politics. His work is featured in international media outlets such as Foreign Affairs, Forbes USA, Techcrunch and Wamda. He has been a speaker at U.S. Presidential Entrepreneurship Summits, Business 20 China, Global Entrepreneurship Summit Moscow, Arabnet Dubai, 5th Izmir National Convention of Economics, among others.

Ussal holds a master’s degree in international development from Harvard University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Bilkent University and METU respectively, both in economics. For the last two years, Ussal has been the director GE’s Istanbul Innovation Center, one of the 8 innovation centers of the largest industrial conglomarate globally. Prior to that, Ussal managed the Business 20 and Think 20 engagement groups when Turkey chaired the G-20; was a consultant on public policy to Google, Microsoft and Paypal; an adviser to Turkish President’s Office, and to the World Bank in Washington D.C. He also worked at Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) to run projects on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Ahmet Kasım Han

Faculty Member, Kadir Has University

Dr. Ahmet K. Han is with the faculty of International Relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. His research interests are strategic thinking, negotiations and foreign policy analysis. Dr. Han holds a B.A. in economics and international relations, an MA on political history and a Ph. D. on international relations from the Istanbul University and has studied negotiations in Harvard. He has been awarded a “Young Leaders of Europe” grant on U.S. Foreign policy by the Department of State of the U.S.A. and has been an observer for NATO on the state of the NATO/ ISAF Operation in Afghanistan twice, in 2005 and 2011. He has published extensively on Afghanistan, geo-strategy of energy politics, US Foreign Policy and Turkish foreign policy. Dr. Han has worked as a columnist in Turkish dailies Radikal and Referans. He is also the chief editorial advisor of the Turkish edition of the New Perspectives Quarterly. Dr. Han has extensive experience as an adviser and consultant to private sector in the field of strategic business development and negotiations. He has also served as the International Relations Advisor for Turkish Exporters Assembly, the umbrella organization of Turkey’s exporting industries between 2003 – 2006. He has lectured for and held academic posts in Istanbul University, Bilgi University, İstanbul Commerce University, Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) War Academy (Staff College) and Air Force War College. From 2005 to 2008 Dr. Han was responsible for structuring and teaching of the “International Negotiation Strategies” course module for TAF, a must course for all senior officers assigned to international military postings including NATO. He has also served as a visiting scholar in University of St. Andrews’s Center for Syrian Studies in Scotland in 2011.

Arda Batu

Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, Secretary General

Arda Batu completed his high school education at The Browning High School, he then studied Political Science and International Relations at Boğaziçi University. He completed his internship at the European Parliament and attained his MA degree from Marmara University European Studies Institute. His career began in 2004 at Yeditepe University’s Political Science& International Relations Department where he served as a research assistant. He transitioned to the corporate sector with HB Consultancy Group in 2007 whilst continuing his professional affiliation with the university. His keen interests in government relations and strategic communications led him to London-based consultancy, Aleph Consulting in 2010, and then to Istanbul-based regional corporate communications firm, StratejiCo in 2012. Arda was appointed as secretary general to Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (TURKONFED) in June 2014. He has been serving on the editorial board of Turkish Policy Quarterly, a journal on international affairs, since 2009.

Can Buharalı

Corporate and Government Affairs Director at Kraft Foods

Can Buharali graduated in 1993 from the Bogazici University with a major in Political Science and International Relations. He undertook graduate studies at the College of Europe in Brugge, Belgium where he received a master’s degree in the politics of European integration in 1997. He joined the Turkish Foreign Service as a career diplomat in 1993 and worked for two years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara at the International Security desk. In 1996, he was posted to the Turkish Permanent Delegation to the Western European Union in Brussels where he represented Turkey in multilateral negotiations in European security and defense policy. Can Buharali was then posted to the Turkish Embassy in Teheran. His responsibilities included bilateral political and economic relations. Upon his return to Ankara, Buharali resigned from the Foreign Service and joined AB Consultancy and Investment Services in Istanbul. Corporate and Government Affairs Director at Kraft Foods, Buharali is a lecturer at Bogazici University and the author of numerous publications.

Can Selçuki

General Manager and Member of the Executive Board, Istanbul Economics Research

Can Selçuki holds a BS degree in Industrial Engineering from the Bilkent University and a MSc degree in Economics from University Bocconi. Currently he works as the General Manager of Istanbul Economics Research which is a market research and online big data analytics company based in Istanbul. Before, Can worked as an economist at the World Bank Ankara Office for 4 years working both with the public and private partners in private sector development. His work at the World Bank focused on regional development, competition and innovation policies. Prior to working at the World Bank, Can worked as an economics researcher at the Brussels based think tank the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) for three years. He is the author of papers and reports on trade competitiveness, regional development and innovation policy in Turkey.

Emre Erdoğan

Professor at Istanbul Bilgi and Boğaziçi Universities

Dr. Emre Erdoğan was born in Istanbul in 1971. He graduated from the Galatasaray Lisesi and from the Political Sciences Department of Bogazici University. He completed his MA and PhD. in the same department. He is working in public opinion and marketing research sector since 1996 and became one of the founders of the Infakto RW (2003). He is an expert on quantitative techniques, sampling and political methodology and the author of numerous papers about marketing research, foreign policy and public opinion, political participation, volunteerism and social capital. He is teaching social statistics courses at Istanbul Bilgi and Boğaziçi Universities.

Gökhan Eşeli

President, MOMENTUM Producciones

Gökhan Eşeli graduated from Ankara University’s Faculty of Political Sciences with a Business Administration degree in 1988. He also holds a Masters Degree in International Economics from the City University of New York (1992). Gökhan Eşeli after graduating from University worked for the Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (1988–1989). During his graduate studies in New York he made an internship at the United Nations’ Department of International Economic and Social Affairs (1991–1992). After receiving his postgraduate degree he worked at ARCO International Oil and Gas Co. in Dallas/Texas as a Senior Financial Analyst. He was later given the responsibility as Coordinator for New Business Ventures for the former CIS countries. Gökhan Eşeli entered the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a career diplomat in 1994. He was responsible for the Department of Iran and Iraq. Gökhan Eşeli was a member of the Northern Iraq Coordination Committee consisting of military, intelligence officials and diplomats monitoring the daily situation in the region after the Gulf War. He also worked as an advisor to the Under Secretary of Political Affairs of the Ministry on issues such as the Conflict in the Balkans, Military Situation in Iraq, Combating PKK Terrorism etc. He was posted to Havana, Cuba in 1996 as Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy. During his term in Havana he was responsible for numerous Ministerial visits and fostering bilateral relations. In the end of 1998 he was transferred as Second Secretary and Consul to the Turkish Embassy in Madrid, Spain. Gokhan Eseli besides being the Consul of the Embassy was also responsible for political and security affairs. After his diplomatic career Gökhan Eşeli founded his company MOMENTUM Producciones in Madrid/Spain. His company currently based in Istanbul is mainly producing TV programs including successful prime-time hits. MOMENTUM Produccions is the leading Turkish company to also serve in the Middle East expanding into media buying and planning.

Gürkan Kumbaroğlu

Professor of Industrial Engineering, Bogazici University

Dr. Gürkan Kumbaroğlu is a faculty member at Boğaziçi University Industrial Engineering department. After receiving his PhD in Industrial Engineering in 2001 from Middle East Technical University, he worked on various projects at the Energy Policies and Research Center of ETH, and later at the National Energy Research Center at Berkeley. After joining the Boğaziçi faculty in 2003, he thought energy planning lectures and conducted research at RWTH Aachen University, University of Sao Paulo and Chinese Academy of Sciences upon invitation. Dr. Kumbaroğlu has been the President of Turkish Association for Energy Economics since its foundation in 2005. Dr. Kumbaroğlu was also elected 2011 as Vice-President of the International Association for Energy Economics, which has close to 100 members world wide..

Işık Özel

Associate Professor of Political Science, Sabancı University

Işık Özel is an associate professor of political science at Sabancı University, Istanbul. Following her B.S. in Economics at Middle East Technical University and M.A. at Boğaziçi University, she received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Washington in 2006 and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Barcelona Institute of International Studies prior to joining the Sabancı faculty in 2007. She has worked as a visiting scholar and a fellow at several institutions including the Hertie School of Governance, Freie Universität Berlin, el Colegio de Mexico, UNED, Instituto de Empresa and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Broadly situated in the fields of comparative political economy and comparative politics, her research focuses on the politics of institutional change and democratization in emerging countries with a specific emphasis on regulatory governance, energy politics, social policy and state-society relations. Her work has appeared in a number of outlets including the Journal of European Public Policy, Democratization, and Regulation and Governance, among others. She is the author of “State-Business Alliances and Economic Development, Turkey, Mexico and North Africa” (Routledge, 2014).

Mehmet Arda

Retired professor, Galatasaray University – Former Head, Commodities Branch, UNCTAD

Apart from EDAM, Mehmet Arda is an active member of the Global Relations Forum (GIF) and Economic Research Centre (GIAM) of Galatasaray University. Until his retirement in mid-2013 he was Professor of International Relations and Economics at Galatasaray University. Before returning to Turkey in 2007, he was the Head of the Commodities Branch of UNCTAD, in Geneva, where he worked for 25 years. He has been an occasional advisor to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and consultant to the United Nations. He is one of the founders of SenDeGel, a Turkish civil society organization assisting Least Developed Countries. He holds a BA from Dartmouth College, and a Ph.D from University of California, Berkeley. His interest in commodity issues continues but his current research focuses on the governance of globalization; the process of development in a globalized world; multilateral and regional trade agreements; Least Developed Countries; South-South economic relations and the political economy of emerging powers; international value chains; natural resource management.

Mitat Çelikpala

Professor of International Relations, Kadir Has University

Mitat Çelikpala is Professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University, Istanbul where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Eurasian Security, energy and critical infrastructure security/protection, Turkish Foreign and Domestic Policy, Black Sea Region and the Caucasus. His areas of expertise are the Caucasus, North Caucasian Diaspora, people and security in the Caucasus and Black Sea regions, Turkish-Russian relations, energy security and critical infrastructure protection. He previously served as an academic advisor to NATO’s Center of Excellence Defense against Terrorism in Ankara (2009-2012), especially on the regional security and the critical infrastructure protection; and was the board member to the Strategic Research and Study Center (SAREM), Turkish General Staff (2005-2011); Academic Adviser to the Center for Strategic Research (SAM), Turkish Foreign Ministry (2002-2010) and Caspian Strategy Institute, Istanbul Turkey (2012–2013). He was a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford University, UK (2005-2006). He has several numbers of published academic articles and media coverage and analyses on above-mentioned areas.


Managing Partner, Istanbul Economy

Mithat Özbek graduated in 1988 from the economics department of the Hacettepe University in Ankara. He then attended the University of Indiana and received his MBA in 2000 from the joint program of the Istanbul Technical University and Exeter University. He started his professional career at Sogut ceramics in the export department of the company. He became a Deputy Director General at Puccinelli, a company operating in the food and beverage industry and then the managing director of the UK based paper and packaging company David S. Smith in Turkey. He worked for 10 years for David S. Smith in this capacity. Following the acquisition of the local branch of the company by Sabanci/International Paper owned Olmuksa, he joined the senior management of Olmuksa. He is a member of several NGOs. He is the managing partner of Istanbul Ekonomi.

Murat Üçer

Senior Lecturer, Koc University Department of Economics and Consultant, Global Source Partners Turkey

Murat Üçer serves as Global Source Partners’ consultant in Turkey, is co-founder of Turkey Data Monitor, and a senior lecturer at Koç University. As a consultant, he provides macroeconomic expertise to commercial banks, multinational corporations and public sector organizations, and gives training programs and seminars on the Turkish as well as global macroeconomic developments. Formerly, he worked as an economist at the Institute of International Finance, Credit Suisse, and the International Monetary Fund and was an advisor to the Minister of Treasury at the Turkish Treasury in 2001 and the Governor of the Central Bank of Turkey in 1997. Mr. Üçer received his B.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Boğazici University and Boston College, respectively, and has authored several articles on the Turkish economy, including a book on the 2001 Turkish crisis

Murat Üçer

Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, Istanbul Bilgi University

Senem Aydın-Düzgit is an assistant professor at Istanbul Bilgi University Department of International Relations and a Jean Monnet Chair. She completed her PhD in Political Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, her MSc in European Politics and Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science, and her BA in Political Science and International Relations at Boğaziçi University. Her primary fields of research are EU enlargement, EU-Turkey relations, discourse studies, identity politics and democratization. She has published various articles on these issues on journals including West European Politics, Cooperation and Conflict, South European Society and Politics, Alternatives, Uluslararası İlişkiler ve Politique Europeenne. She is the author of the book Constructions of European Identity: Debates and Discourses on Turkey and the EU (Palgrave, December 2012). Aydın-Düzgit is a member of Carnegie Endowment Rising Democracies Network and senior expert at Sabancı University Istanbul Policy Center. She is the co-editor of South European Society and Politics and Global Affairs journals. She received Science Academy Young Scientist (BAGEP) award in 2014.