Turkey Migration

Internal migration

For a long time Turkey was perceived from the outside as a country of emigration (population exchange and labor migration to Germany).

The issue of migration also a strong national component. Indeed, intensive internal migration is preoccupying Turkey on a political, social and individual level. Migration movements within Turkey describe, on the one hand, migrations from south-east Anatolian villages to the cities of the south-east, e.g. to Van, Diyabakir or Hakkari, whose population increased by 3.2% annually between 1990 and 2000. The reason for this was violent clashes over the Kurdish conflict, which reached into the smallest villages. Military attacks against the civilian population, terror and pressure went hand in hand with a lack of economic prospects and poverty. People left their settlement areas or were asked to leave by the state. The metropolitan areas of the provinces appeared to be blessed. Most of the time, the hopes did not come true. The overwhelmed cities could not offer work and security for everyone.

“The soil of Istanbul is golden – Istanbul’un topragi altin” it says. The metropolises of Istanbul grew by 3.3% annually between 1990 and 2000 and Antalya by 4.2%. Often some residents of the former villages and family members have already started and support the newcomers from their own homeland. These country ties (Hemserlik)are the social network for migrants, who often only find employment on the informal labor market, without employment contracts subject to social insurance or as day laborers. The immigrants find space in suburban settlements, so-called “Gecekondus – houses built overnight”, often without any infrastructure and simply built houses. In the course of elections, these areas are then opened up and legalized. The immigrants remain to themselves and do not form any connection with the urban majority population. Advancement is impossible in the first generation, and the second generation rarely manages, because education and family financial strength are inextricably linked. All that remains is to withdraw into one’s own community and to preserve the mostly conservative values of the Anatolian villages.

Gurbetciler in Turkey

Labor migration to Germany

The fact that people in Germany believe they have a “correct” picture of Turkey is related to the issue of “labor migration”. The more than 2.5 million people of Turkish origin in Germany determine the image of a country that is far more complex.

According to hyperrestaurant, over the past 50 years, numerous Turks have come to Germany to temporarily or permanently spend their time here for professional, political or family reasons. This led to another milestone in the close and sometimes complicated relationships between the two countries and their people. After a consistently friendly and European image of the Turks and Turkey in the 50’s and 60’s – also in the media – the picture changed. Arson attacks in Solingen and Mölln against Turks living here shocked the population. Demarcation and discrimination influenced the coexistence, a split in German and Turkish parallel societies developed. The media focus was primarily on critical events. The question ”

Politicians, economists and scientists are concerned about the phenomenon of the “brain drain”, ie well-educated young Turks are leaving Germany because of poor career opportunities, stigmatization and exclusion in everyday life and work. Turkey welcomes these returnees and gives them the opportunity to use their commitment and creativity. In Istanbul there are now regulars for returnees – networking and exchange included.

Turkish society is also often strangers to its German nationals (Almanci). For the modern elites in the big cities, they are backward and conservative, uneducated. Too free and too modern for the conservative domestic Turks, no more real Turks. For a long time the Almancilars were viewed with envy because they – supposedly – had a life in economic and socio-political security in Germany.

Turkey as an immigration and transit country

Since the founding of the republic (1923), Turkey has been the target of a substantial and constant influx of ethnic Turks, ie Muslim or Turkish-speaking minorities, from the territories of its predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire. While this form of immigration largely came to a standstill in the last decade, new large-scale migratory movements gained in importance, made up of refugees and asylum seekers, irregular labor migrants and transit migrants from parts of the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Since the outbreak of war in Syria and Iraq, 3.6 million people have sought protection in refugee camps and the districts of major cities. This puts Turkey in third place worldwide of all countries that accept refugees.

Initially referred to as “guests” and given their stay for a limited period of time. It is now expected that many of them will settle permanently. This has an impact on Turkish society and the economy, especially in the southeast areas around Gaziantep and in the major cities.

At the same time, Turkey is considered an important partner of the EU agreement that the influx is intended to limit to the West and illegal immigrants to Greece refugees withdraws.

Population exchange and displacement

At the end of the Ottoman Empire, during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) and at the beginning of the Republic (1922-1923), there was repeated population exchange between the Greek Orthodox population, who had to leave what is now Turkey, and the Turkish population in Greece. Between 1915 and 1916, large sections of the Armenian population lost their lives through deportation and displacement.