Experience of Euro-Turks

Prof. Dr. Faruk Şen, director of the Turkey Research Center Association (TAM), recently published a book presenting the statistics he had compiled while doing research on Turks living in the European Union. He also chronicles his own experiences, as a Turk who has spent many years in Germany.
The book, “Euro-Turks: the Presence of Turks in Europe and their Future”, was published by the Turkish publishing house Günizi Yayıncılık. TURKOFAMERICA has compiled some of the more striking data that come straight from Prof. Şen's book on the experience of these “Euro-Turks”.
Prof. Faruk Sen.

There are 5.2 million Turks living in the 27 countries of the European Union. Approximately 1 million of this body of people consists of a minority population of Turkish descent living in Bulgaria and Romania. The remaining population is mostly a result of immigration to EU countries from the 1960s on.

This 5.2 million population numbers close to the population of Denmark and is almost twice the population of the Baltic states. European Turks are basically the 28th country of the European Union. Based on population, they would even be the 19th country in the union.

Forty-two percent of the Turkish immigrants living in EU countries are citizens of that country. Forty-two percent is equivalent to 1,777,000 people. This is equal to the populations of Greek Cyprus, Malta, and Luxembourg combined. Of that number, 625,000 are dual citizens.

Prof. Sen's book cover.

After realizing that worker companies were unsuccessful, from 1986 on many Euro-Turks and business owners began to implement their dreams. In many European cities, when the words “Turkish entrepreneurs” are uttered many names come to mind, including Vural Öger, Ali Akkanat, Ahmet Aydın, Hulisi Bayam, Ahmet and Dicle Fırat, Aydın Yardımcı, Hilmi Selçuk, Gülcan Ayvalık, Mehmet Çoban, Kadir

Uğur, Müslüm Balaban and Bekir Akman, all businesspeople well-known and respected in their fields.  
The number of Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany numbered nearly 70,000 at the end of 2006. With the added countries of Bulgaria and Romania, where there are many Turkish people doing business, that number increases to 107,000.

In the 1990s among the Turkish population in Germany, a growing number of people opted to form their own companies. Entrepreneurs of Turkish descent, as the largest ethnic group of entrepreneurs in the country, have served the function as one of the largest powerhouses of business owners.
The number of Turks working freelance from November to December of 2006 reached 68,300. The increase from the year before, when there were 64,600, was 5.7 percent. One out of every ten Turkish families receives their main source of income from freelance work.

There seems to be no neighborhood in the cities of modern-day Germany where there is no Turk involved in at least one sector, including gastronomy, trade, craftsmanship, or a service-related business. The average yearly turnover of 68,300 Turkish business owners working in Germany is 31.6 billion Euro. A large number of the businesses that average a yearly turnover of 462,000 Euro consist of family-owned and -run businesses. The Turkish entrepreneurs of Germany averaged 112,500 Euro of investment per head and in total reached an investment volume of 7.7 billion Euro.

It is striking how large a gulf there exists between the reality of Turkish entrepreneurs and the image of them in the public eye. In the public, Turkish entrepreneurs are thought to be mainly owners of döner stands or produce sellers, and not a group that has many representatives in a large number of sectors. Over time, the döner stands became restaurants, the small-time döner producers became large outfits, airline ticket sellers became large travel agencies.

A large percentage of Turkish business owners (78.3 percent) form individual companies. There are 53,500 individual companies in Germany. While every one out of ten has a partnership in a simple firm, the percentage of limited companies is just 9.2 percent.
According to findings by TAM, the average age of Turkish entrepreneurs is 37.8. Nearly 43.5 percent have German citizenship and the average amount of time the person has lived there is 23.6 years. Most are men, although the number of female entrepreneurs is growing. The percentage of entrepreneurs that are women is 24.2 percent. Seventy-five percent of the business owners have a trade degree.

A large number of the Turkish entrepreneurs in the EU (68 percent) live in Germany. France and Holland follow close behind. In the 10-year period between 1996 and 2006, the investment volume of Turkish entrepreneurs increased from 5.6 billion Euro to 10.9 billion Euro. The turnover of 21.8 billion Euro in 1996 has increased as of 2006 to 43.9 billion Euro. Alongside this increase in size and profit, there has also been an increase in employment. In 1996 there were 232,000 employed whereas today the amount is 474,000.

When the Turkish population of Bulgaria and Romania (who became EU members in early 2007) is taken into consideration, 23,500 Turkish business owners can be added to that list. In this way, the number of Turkish entrepreneurs has reached 124,500 in the EU at large.

While the debate over whether foreigners should be able to buy houses in Turkey or not is ongoing, more than 260,000 Turks in the EU already own a house, story, or property.

In other words, more than 25 percent of the property used by Euro-Turk business owners belongs to them and a large number are fixing up these buildings and renting them out. At the beginning of 2006 the number of business owners that owned their property in Europe had surpassed 255,000. At the beginning of 2007 this number began to push 280,000.

The largest improvement in property ownership has been witnessed in Germany. Of the Turks living in Germany, 203,000 were property owners as of the end of 2006. The net real estate wealth of Turkish households is about 9.7 billion Euro. In the EU, the net real estate wealth of Turks is 12.2 billion Euro. In Germany the household gross real estate wealth is 3.9 billion Euro and the net real estate wealth is 2.9 trillion Euro.

Today in Germany alone there are more than 2,300 active mosque associations and the associations formed by Euro-Turks living in EU-member states number more than 4,000. In line with Turkey's desire, there is no strong European Turkish lobby similar to the Armenian or Jewish lobbies in Europe. One reason for this is that there is no strong willingness on the part of Turks living there and because they are not members of a powerful country. In terms of politics, European Turks are quite sophisticated. In Germany in particular, there are numerous politicians of Turkish descent in political parties.

According to official figures, Turkey sends 130,000 students to 70 countries for purposes of study. Unofficial figures suggest a number closer to 200,000. From Thailand to Georgia, Singapore to South Africa, it is possible to run into Turkish students at the far corners of the earth. Even in remote areas of the US, it is possible to find Turkish students studying at universities, as there are nearly 40,000 Turkish students studying there. In Germany on the other hand, 95 percent of the Turkish students studying higher education (or 36,000) are children of immigrants.

Within the framework of marriage and population increases in the European Union, the Turkish population there increases yearly by 150-180,000. At the same time deaths are also increasing. The population of Euro-Turks in 2023, if there are no large-scale changes, will be a bit more than the population of Greece and will reach the 10 million mark.

In a Europe where an estimated 10 million Euro-Turks will live, will Turkey itself be a part of the EU starting 1 January 2014? Although I was initially quite optimistic about such a development, I no longer retain hope regarding this issue and instead wish to proceed as though it is not an eventuality. Europe's conservative nature, its own internal divisions and anti-Islam attitude, and its dwindling resources will eventually make it seem less attractive to Turkey. The EU will undoubtedly find a reason not to take Turkey and for this reason Turkey-EU relations will always be directed by the Euro-Turks. Perhaps Turkey will find allegiance with the new economic powerhouses of China and India and will use its strategic location on the border of the EU to full advantage.

Indicator                                                                                        1996            2001             2006
Enterprenuers                                                                              56.500        81.000          101.000
Average Investment for Each Operation (€)                            99.500      109.000          108.000
Total Investment Capasity (billion €)                                        5,6                 8,8               10,9
Average Income for Each Operation (€)                                  386.500       430.800        435.000
Annual Total Income (billion €)                                                 21,8              34,9                43,9
Average Number of Employees for Each Operation             4,1                 5,0                   4,7
Total Employees                                                                         232.000       405.000        474.000

Source: Turkey Research Center Association
/ Essen 2007

(October 2007, 26th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07