In the past 45 years 4,200,000 Turks have immigrated to Europe. Of these immigrants, 2,455,000 have the right to vote in Turkey. European Turks are only allowed to vote in Turkish elections at the customs entry points and in the General Elections of 2002 the percentage of Turks voting at the customs gate was a bit more than 4 percent. In July 2007 Turks interested in the arena of politics tried their luck in Turkey. Fifty-four Turks living in Europe signed up to be candidates, although only four made it through. Saadettin Kılıç, Aydın Yardımcı and Ali Kılıç participated in the election from Germany. Of the candidates, only one living in Switzerland, Fazilet Dağlı Çığlık of the AK Party (Justice and Development Party), made it into parliament representing Erzurum.
Beside uncessecculf attemts of European Turks in Turkey general elections, 67 Turkish politicians, six of them in European Parliament, have been serving in different European countries parliaments such as Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria.
Among the candidates for the first district of Ankara, Cologne-based businessman Aydın Yardımcı was first in line. He has been vocal about his belief that the nearly 5 million Turks living abroad have been abandoned to their own fates.
HE WAS THE KING OF MEAT
A graduate of Ankara Technical School's motor department, Yardımcı came to Germany in 1970 and began working at a motor factory. He entered the business world with a small market that he opened in 1975. In 1978 he began to sell wholesale meat. “Before this business, I had never once in my life gone to a butcher's to buy meat. I only entered this market as a result of pressure from acquaintances.” Yardımcı is the youngest of nine siblings and until recently was the only name visible in the lamb meat market. After selling 9 million pieces of lamb meat a year, Yardımcı decided to make his business smaller in 1990. After the mad cow disease crisis of 1996 spread to the lamb market, hard times fell on Yardımcı and his eight branches.
In 1989, Yardımcı received a twenty-year concession from Tekel, the body which controls the sale of alcohol in Turkey, gaining the rights to sell Turkish alcohol in Europe. After a new party came to power, however, the contract was canceled and Yardımcı claims that he lost 16 million marks on the deal. “Even if I didn't really pay attention to anyone back then, now I realize that this happened because I replaced permissible business dealings with ones forbidden by my faith”, he states with self-critical candor. Still in search of the heady old days of the business world, Yardımcı still has 20 people working him in the meat sector. He is now also partnering with Müslüm Balaban, an important figure in the restaurant sector, to open what will be one of Cologne's largest and most modern restaurants.
WE WERE ABANDONED TO OUR FATES
Starting his career in politics in the center-right Anavatan Party (Motherland Party) in 1997 and leaving the party after party leader Mesut Yılmaz resigned from politics, Yardımcı formed the European Democratic Association and only joined the Democrat Party on the insistence of Mehmet Ağar. After the July 22, 2007 general elections, Mehmet Ağar announced his decision to leave politics after his party's poor showing of merely 5.4 percent of the votes. Yardımcı is also leaving politics. However, he can't resist adding on the following statement, “If the politics leaves us”. When asked about why such a successful businessman would run as a candidate Yardımcı replies, “I wanted to enter politics in order to help Turks who were abandoned to their fates in Europe.” Yardımcı reminds us that many people who entered politics in Europe went on to become parliamentarians, “We don't receive the same opportunities that Europe provides us in our own country of Turkey.” He also states that Turks living abroad now have a door to knock on in Ankara, “I'll take care of my business one way or another. I have a circle and close ones to help me but there are people who don't have people to talk to or rely on,” he states. (October 2007, 26th issue)
TURKISH MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENTS IN EUROPE / AVRUPA PARLEMENTOLARINDAKİ TÜRKLER
Name Country Name of Parliament Party
Vural Öger Germany European Parliament SPD
Cem Özdemir Germany European Parliament Green Party
Emine Bozkurt Holland European Parliament Labour Party
Metin Kazak Bulgaria European Parliament MRF
Filiz H. Hyusmenova Bulgaria European Parliament MRF
Necmi Ali Bulgaria European Parliament MRF
Hakkı Keskin Germany Member of Federal Parliament PDS
Lale Akgün Germany Member of Federal Parliament SPD
Hüseyin K. Aydın Germany Member of Federal Parliament PDS
Ekin Deligöz Germany Member of Federal Parliament Green
Sevim Dağdelen Germany Member of Federal Parliament PDS
Coşkun Çörüz Holland Member of Parliament CDA
Fatma Koşer Kaya Holland Member of Parliament D66
Yılmaz Kerimo Sweden Member of Parliament SDP
Mehmet Kaplan Sweden Member of Parliament Green
İbrahim Baylan Sweden Member of Parliament SDP
Alev Korun Avustria Member of Parliament Green
Meryem Almacı Belgium Member of Parliament GROEN
Fatma Pehlivan Belgium Member of Senate SP
Cemal Çavdarlı Belgium Member of Federal Parliament SP
Hüseyin Araç Denmark Member of Parliament SDP
Aledin Amet Romania Member of Parliament UDTTMR
Ibraam Husein Romania Member of Parliament UDTTMR
MEMBERS OF A REGIONAL PARLIAMENT
Özcan Mutlu Germany Berlin House of Representatives Green
Dilek Kolat Germany Berlin House of Representatives SPD
Giyasettin Sayan Germany Berlin House of Representatives PDS
Bilkay Öney Germany Berlin House of Representatives Green
Evrim Baba Germany Berlin House of Representatives PDS
Dilek Kolat Germany Berlin House of Representatives SPD
Ülker Radziwill Germany Berlin House of Representatives SPD
Canan Bayram Germany Berlin House of Representatives SPD
Emine D. Wagner Germany Berlin House of Representatives CDU
Aydan Özoğuz Germany Member of Hamburg Regional Parliament SPD
Nebahat Güçlü Germany Member of Hamburg Regional Parliament GAL Fraktion
Filiz Polat Germany Member of Lower Saxony Landtag Green
Güle İletmiş Germany Bremen House of Representatives SPD
Mustafa Güngör Germany Bremen House of Representatives SPD
Emir Ş. Şenkal Germany Bremen House of Representatives SPD
Mustafa K. Öztürk Germany Bremen House of Representatives Green
İlhan Ahmet Greece Member of Parliament Rodop YDP
TURKS IN BULGAR PARLIAMENT
Ahmed Demir Doğan, Arif Sami Aguş, Ahmed Üseyin Üseyin, Aliosman İbraim İmamov , Fikret Hüdayetov Şabanov, Yüksel Ali Hatib, Hasan Ahmed Ademov, Çetin Hüseyin Kazak, Mithat Sabri Metin, Necmi Niyazi Ali, Yüseyin Aptulla Cemil, Nigar Sahlim Cafer, Ünal Tasim, Fatme Musa İliyaz, Metin M. Süleymanov, Nesrin Mustafa Uzun, Erdinç İliyaz Hacıev, İlker Ahmedov Mustafov, Lütvi Ahmed Mestan,
Musa Cemal Palev, Remzi Durmuş Osman, Daud İdriz Osman, Reyhan İbadulla Ablekim, Erdoğan M. Ahmedov, Kasim İsmail Dal, Ünal Said Lütvi, Ramadan Bayram Atalay.
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