1128) Expat Turks have High Numbers, Low Influence

Armenians and Turks living abroad are equal in population but unequal in influence.

Armenians have made 18 countries recognize the alleged Armenian genocide whereas Turkey, which lacks a strong lobby, cannot defend its own national causes. . .

The indifference of the Turkish state, lack of education and economic weakness are Turkey’s main obstacles for a strong lobby.

The genocide bill passed by the French parliament has once again underlined the importance of lobbying.

Nearly five million Armenians living in different countries can get what they want through effective lobbying.

However, Turkey fails to bring its citizens abroad together.

Five million Turks living in 118 different countries cannot lobby as efficiently as other nations.

The main reason for this is the lack of a common goal, authorities say.

Having conducted intensive research on the issue, Professor Tayyar Ari complains that the Turkish state cannot form a policy on lobbying.

Ari described the organizational activities of Turks abroad as insufficient.

German Green Party Deputy Cem Ozdemir stated the social power of the Diaspora was more important than its numerical magnitude.

Turkish-origin deputies emphasized that artists and academics were not close to the people.

Citizens of Turkish origin who can influence the agenda of the society in which they live usually choose to act independently.

Another reason for inadequate lobbying is incompetence.

Low education levels and economic insufficiency make it hard for Turks living abroad to express themselves.

Diplomatic representatives abroad are accused of not cooperating enough with Turkish non-governmental organizations.

Turkey has a large amount of its population living abroad.

According to official figures more than five million Turks live abroad.

The number of Turks living in France is 359,000, according to data from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

This figure is 450,000, according to the French Interior Ministry.

However, Turks can not defend their national causes for several reasons.

Authorities think the man reason for this that the Turks migrated to Europe in the recent past.

Most Turks abroad are second-generation immigrants and their lack of career advancement in economic and social terms makes it impossible for them to influence the society in which they live.

The situation in Europe is not as bad as in the United States, but the result is terrible when compared to the population potential.

There are over four million Turkish citizens in Europe and some of them have already managed to take a position in the parliaments of the countries in which they live.

Some Turks have even become members of the European Parliament.

Considering the lack of education as the biggest problem of the Turks living in Germany, Cem Ozdemir said: “We have to bring this issue to the agenda as frequently as possible. Turkey could be a part of the solution.”

Associate Professor Talip Kucukcan from Foundation for Political, Economic, and Social Research (SETA) believes minorities can be efficient in the country they live in only by means of NGOs they establish among themselves. Kucukcan emphasized Turks were weak in regards to demanding their democratic rights.

Associate Professor Ahmet Kavas from Istanbul University said, “We should first help our people to be useful for the society they live in.” Kavas also thinks Turkey should stop the efforts to educate Turks abroad with teachers and imams appointed from Turkey. He thinks they should raise teachers, imams, lawyers and doctors from among themselves.

Dutch Socialist Party Deputy Emine Bozkurt warns that if Turks establishing associations abroad it could negatively affect their integration into society. Bozkurt thinks this risk may be reduced to a minimum if Turks’ are active in the society.

5 million Turks Live Abroad
According to the Foreign Ministry, the number of Turks living abroad is 4,782,348.

The unofficial figure, however, is one million more.

The country with the largest Turkish population is Germany.

Two and a half million Turks live in Germany according to official data.

There are 500,000 Turks in France, 351,000 in the Netherlands, 250,000 in the United States, 200,000 in Austria and 138,000 in Australia.

By Sezai Kalayci, Istanbul
October 14, 2006


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