Turkish migrants give live to German economy
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Germany was unprepared to receive large masses of immigrants after the ‘Guest Worker’ deal with Turkey in 1961, but the situaiton is better nowadays, Süreyya İnal says. AP photo
Turks living in Germany have established more than 80,000 companies, generating an annual gross revenue of around 40 billion euros.
In the 1970s the number of Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany was around 3,000 and this figure grew drastically during the 1980s, Recep Keskin, chairman of the Association of Turkish Businessmen and Industrialists in Europe (ATİAD), said in a recent interview to the weekly Ekonomist magazine.
Today there are 82,000 Turkish entrepreneurs employing 450,000 to 500,000 people in their companies in Germany, according to Keskin. These firms invest around 10 billion euros each year, he said. “The rate of becoming an entrepreneur among Germans is 1 percent, while this figure jumps to 11 to 12 percent among Turks.”
It has been 50 years since the first Guest Worker Agreement was signed between Turkey and Germany on Oct. 31, 1961.
Turkish workers did not return to their homeland after two years of employment in Germany, as forecasted in the agreement. Today they form a 3 million-strong community in the European country.
Reasons for not returning
The main reasons for not returning were having been settled in a country that was better off than Turkey and thinking about the education of coming generations. Now, the third and even fourth generation of Turkish migrants still live there.
One of Germany’s biggest mistakes when it started receiving Turkish workers was to be unprepared for receiving immigrants, according to Süreyya İnal, an independent auditor of Turkish origin that employs 17 people in her Berlin-based office. Recalling that the country’s migration legislation was approved only in 2005, 44 years after Germany started receiving Turkish immigrants, İnal said: “While Germans had planned how they would involve Turkish workers in their industries for two years, they were caught unprepared regarding immigration policy.”
Being a female entrepreneur is difficult even in Germany, but with hard work and clear planning anything is achievable, said İnal, who plans to open two offices in Cologne and Istanbul next year.
Unemployment is seen as the biggest problem for Turks living in Germany. As Germany transitioned to more automated production systems, the need for low-skilled workers dwindled. According to the latest data, the overall unemployment rate stands at 6.3 percent in Germany while the figure climbs to 22.2 percent among the Turkish community. Vocational schools are key to solving unemployment concerns for the Turkish community, said Alper Üçok, head of the Turkish Industry and Business Association’s (TÜSİAD) Berlin office.
Invest in third countries
The changing production landscape and outsourcing of operations to Asian countries pushed Turks living in Germany to become entrepreneurs, according to Caner Aver, a researcher at the Turkish Integration Research Center Foundation. He said many German entrepreneurs aim to establish partnerships with Turkish companies in order to invest in third countries, especially in the post-turmoil Middle East and North African countries.