Time to Go Home

Yasin Yağcı – The Netherlands
Most Turks who took up the European adventure were planning to return to their homeland in a few years time. Things ended up in a much different way, though. Most newcomers embraced Europe as their new land. Their children, even grandchildren were born and grew up in their new countries. For the later generations, Europe was the homeland.
Until a few years ago. I say “a few years ago”, because sharp changes in policies against immigrants in many European countries are slowly making Turkish immigrants return to Turkey. The situation in the Netherlands, the second largest home of Turkish immigrants in Europe, provides the best example.
Recently, Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands started to say, “we are going back as it became impossible to stay here.” This expression of “surrender”, includes both an implicit complain and sorrow; and it is spreading every single day.

Several problems during the past few years increased the rate at which Turkish and Moroccan immigrants go back to their homelands. On the other hand, there is an increase in the number of immigrants from Eastern Europe, especially from Poland.

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the number of Turkish people relocating in Holland during the first half of 2003 was higher than the number of people returning to Turkey by a margin of 1184. During the first six months of 2004, however, the difference went down to 50. The important point is to that although the number of newcomers is approximately stable, more people are leaving Holland. Same trend is valid for Moroccans as well.

There are several reasons why Turks and Moroccans, the largest immigrant communities in Holland, are going back. The first reason is the political developments, which is working against the immigrants. Several legal changes made the immigrant life in Holland more difficult than before. Compulsory language requirement even for the first generation immigrants and partial prohibition of marriage with foreigners are among other reasons.

The economic crisis in Holland is playing a role, too. Many foreigners, who are owners of small and medium scale enterprises, are giving up as they fail to survive the crisis. Rising unemployment rate among immigrants is another factor. Many immigrants are facing the dilemma between staying and going back. Which one is more difficult?

They had one foot on their homeland since the European adventure started. However, it is still complicated to go back. Especially for younger generations that have fully adapted to Holland, a new life in Turkey is anything but easy. Getting a new job, connecting with a new friend, a new space. It can’t be easy to get used to it instantly. Nevertheless, integration and adapting became a part of their destiny. They are foreigners in Europe and Europeans in Turkey. It must be hard to feel attached to either side in this dual world.

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07