Economic integration in 50th year of migration

Economic integration in 50th year of migration

Invitations are piling up on top of each other on my desk, those that have been sent for events organized to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of immigration from Turkey to Germany.

One of the invitations was for a symposium that started Tuesday at Istanbul Bilgi University titled “Transnational Migration in the Examples of Turkey and Germany.” Another one was Monday’s ceremony at Hagia Irene for “translation awards.” Another is an invitation to the “Fiktion Okzident” exhibition at the Tophane-i Amire Culture and Arts Center.

Well, the events were not well attended because of the sad and anxious days we are going though because of the Van earthquake.

I regret that I missed the opening of the “Fiktion Okzident” exhibition organized with the cooperation of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University and the Goethe Institute. This is partly because I know one of the curators of the exhibition from the “Turkish Contemporary Art” exhibitions he opened in 2010 in Berlin.

One of the artists, Nezaket Ekici, is still in my mind with her extraordinary performance in the magical atmosphere of Kasimiye Madrasa last year at the Mardin Biennial.

There is also a book on my desk edited by Professor Faruk Şen, director of the German-Turkish Foundation for Education and Scientific Research (TAVAK). The book is titled, “50th Year of the Migration.”

Several scientists, journalists and artists assess the journey that started 50 years ago from Istanbul’s Sirkeci Railroad Station in the book supported by the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Professor Şen views the migration from an economic window. He issues figures and makes comparisons.

Indeed, a striking picture emerges regarding the contribution of Turks to Germany’s economic life.

In 1987, the number of Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany was 25,500 and the number of people they employed was 87,000. Today, the number of Turkish entrepreneurs has reached 72,000 and the number of people they employ has topped 355,000.

Many of these entrepreneurs in Germany are owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and operate in the food and beverage sector.

When mentioning the food and beverage sector, let’s not forget that we are talking about a sector that has brought a new breath to the German people’s eating habits.

There is also a sociological dimension.

Right at this moment a famous photograph comes to my mind of German Chancellor Angela Merkel while she is cutting a Turkish döner with a huge knife in her hand.

Isn’t it a proof that Merkel’s cutting the döner shows how much the Germans have adopted this food item that is very much loved from Jordan to Greece?

And if we return to the figures Professor Şen has provided, the turnover of 72,000 Turkish entrepreneurs has reached 32.9 billion euros.

These kiosks, restaurants and döner-selling stands managed by Turkish entrepreneurs have transformed into manufacturing shops in the past 20 years.

According to Şen’s findings, the reason for the increase in the number of Turkish entrepreneurs is the decline in unemployment benefits.

Again according to Şen’s findings, the small and medium Turkish companies can secure a place for themselves in the market both because they operate on a customer-oriented basis and also because they have flexible and dynamic structures.

When considering that one out of every three Turkish entrepreneur does not have any vocational training, this is actually a significant achievement.

The fact that 43 percent of their customers are German shows that they have achieved what Professor Şen calls “economic integration.”