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Turks in Europe

The expatriate Turkish population in Europe currently stands at 3 million, yet is still one of the lesser known immigrant communities. Its superficial image as a withdrawn, religious, culturally conservative community is to due to the influence of some social scientists and mass media on credulous public opinion on the one hand and to the historical, social, economic and cultural specificity of this immigrant group on the other hand. The complex social phenomenon of Turkish immigration in Europe is connected to the Turkish people's self-image, the formation of new individual and collective identities, and the conception of integration spread by its 'silent majority'.


The largest number of Turkish immigrant workers is to be found in Germany, of course, followed by the Benelux countries, France, Austria, and Switzerland. Germany took in an influx of men alone between 1961 and 1973. This was followed by the massive arrival of their families up until about 1981. Elsewhere in Europe the purely male migration took place from 1965 to 1974. Family reunifications were likewise spread over the period up until and including the first half of the '80s. As a result, Europe's Turkish population consists of a majority of families, with almost total male/female parity.


The Turkish diaspora in Europe is growing steadily. For Western Europe as a whole it rose from 1,988 million in 1985 to 3,034 million in 1996 (2,944 million in the EU countries). This is a 52.6% increase over one decade.


Ural Manco, sociologist, researcher at the Centre d'Etudes Sociologiques, Facultes Universitaires Saint-Louis, Brussels, Belgium.This paper is published in N. K. BURÇOGLU (editor), The Image of Turk in Europe from the Declaration of the Republic in 1923 to the 1990’s, The Isis Press, Istanbul, 2000, pp.21-35.

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Relations between Turkey and the European Union

Turkey is the only pluralist secular democracy in the Moslem world and has always attached great importance to developing its relations with other European countries. Historically, Turkish culture has had a profound impact over much of Eastern and Southern Europe.


Turkey began "westernising" its economic, political and social structures in the 19th century. Following the First World War and the proclamation of the Republic in 1923, it chose Western Europe as the model for its new secular structure.


Turkey has ever since closely aligned itself with the West and has become a founding member of the United Nations, a member of NATO, the Council of Europe, the OECD and an associate member of the Western European Union. During the Cold War Turkey was part of the Western alliance, defending freedom, democracy and human rights. In this respect, Turkey has played and continues to play a vital role in the defence of the European continent and the principal elements of its foreign policy have converged with those of its European partners.


Having thus entered into very close cooperation with Western Europe in the political field, it was therefore only natural for Turkey to complete this in the economic area. Thus, Turkey chose to begin close cooperation with the fledgling EEC in 1959.


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Mehmet Ünal