German Turkish Relationships

by Sima

Despite two world wars during the last century the world have gone through, a bunch of unique relationships have been established between Turkey and Germany. The existence of Turkish citizens in Germany, who’s number has reached over 3 million, and approximately 70 thousand German Citizens living in Turkey. This situation shows us the exceptional dimension of the relationship between Turkey and Germany.

Of course, the first encounter of both countries goes back to much earlier times than the 20th century. However, the arrival of Turkish `Gastarbeiter´(guest workers) is a huge milestone for the Turkish and German history. In the 1960s, West Germany invite Turkish workers to work in the factories, which was initiated by the labor force agreement. Those immigrants, who came also from different countries like Italy, Russia and more countries, gives a boost to the Germany’s economic miracle. The German authorities named these people Gastarbeiter.

Most Turkish people who immigrated to West Germany intended to live there temporarily and then return to Turkey so that they could build a new life with the earned money. However, the number of Turkish migrants who returned to Turkey ultimately remained relatively small compared to the number of Turkish immigrants arriving in Germany. This was partly due to the right of family reunification, introduced in 1974. Therefore, it was allowed to Turkish workers to bring their families to Germany. Many of those hardworking men and women have become German citizens.

With a long history of trade and cultural exchange, both countries are part of the tight international framework that has evolved in the post-war era in Europe and on a global scale. Within the UN, NATO, the G-20, the OSCE, and numerous other international organizations, Germany and Turkey have contributed substantially to international peace, security, stability and prosperity. Germany is one of Turkey’s closest partner on its path towards Europe. However, nowadays Germany and Turkey have to face some challenges in the European accession process of Turkey. Another point is the economic relationship. As the largest economy on the European continent, Germany is Turkey’s prime trading partner. In 2010, German exported more goods to Turkey than to Brazil or India; and Germany imported more goods from Turkey than from either one of those both countries. Considering Brazil´s and India´s high economic strength, these finding is admirable.

Unfortunately, in the past months increasing tensions between those two countries could be observed. The current political tensions between Turkey and Germany do have an influence on social relations, which is why cultural exchanges like Erasmus and our IstKon exchange are more important than ever.


Turkish Miister of Labour visits Turkish“Guest workers“ in Germany 1966 (© picture-alliance/dpa)


(© picture-alliance, Beynelmilel)


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