Transnational Turkish-German community in limbo. Consequences of political tensions between migrant receiving and sending countries
AuthorUnver, Osman Can
MetadataShow full item record
CitationUnver, O. C. (2022). Transnational Turkish-German community in limbo. Consequences of political tensions between migrant receiving and sending countries. International Migration.
A profound political tension between Turkey and Germany has gained an overall dimension on the political agenda of the intra-European migration discussion since 2016. As close trade partners, Turkey and Germany became gradually political adversaries on different issues. 2016 and the following years marked a turnover in the already worsened mutual relations. A series of political issues such as recognising the Armenian genocide in 1915, open allegations and critical views against the Turkish President and prohibition of election campaigns for Turkish government politicians in Germany had driven political relations between the two countries to nadir. This obscure situation led the Turks of Germany (The phrases "Turks of Germany" or "Turkish migrants" are persons with migration background from Turkey who still bear Turkish citizenship or formerly were Turkish citizens. This group's ethnic or confessional identity is not recognised; their legal status and country of origin are preponderant.), who have close ties to their ancestors' homeland and consider Germany as the centre of their lives, nolens volens into a limbo situation. Within the "guest-worker program" framework in the second part of the 20th century, highly industrialised countries of Western Europe recruited migrant workers from different countries. This workforce should perform mostly blue-collar labour in the receiving countries. After six decades of Turkish presence in Germany, the grandsons and granddaughters of the former guest workers are well-represented in almost every sector of the society. However, their loyalty and integrability to the receiving country are challenged by German politics, especially by the governments of conservative chancellor Angela Merkel (2005-2021). If Turks of Germany feel closely connected to Turkey and Turkish culture (Workers from Turkey brought with them to the country of immigration their own "cultural assets". Those are, language, religious and customary beliefs, social habits, dress, music, literature, social codes and manners, shared history, food, etc. However, migrants in the receiving country undergo a process of hybridity under the influence of the new cultural environment. (Please see: Bhabha [The location of culture, New York, NY: Routledge, 1994]) Culture within the framework of post-colonialism has also been discussed in Edward W. Said's book "Culture and Imperialism" (Said [Kultur ve Emperyalizm. Kapsamli Bir Dusunsel ve Siyasal Sorgulama calismasi. Hil Yayin: Istanbul, 1998]). If Turks of Germany feel closely connected to Turkey and Turkish culture, they are not recognised as integrable members of the society. Identity-based and culture-oriented policies inexorably influence the willingness of migrants to feel like equal members in the host society, and it applies even to the new generations with migration backgrounds. The question of migrant integration is the most emotionally debated issue in Germany and seems to be the greatest challenge in the political agenda. Beyond the bilateral Turkish-German issues, the growing xenophobic sentiments, islamophobia and Europe-wide political populism may cause a persistent bilateral tension in the medium term between the countries and among the transnational and native communities. Anti-Turkish rhetoric in the media alienates the Turkish community and has a value to jeopardise integration efforts more and more.