Germany and Turkey are linked by especially wide-ranging and close relations in which the approximately three million people of Turkish descent living in Germany play an important role. Against the background of Turkey’s increasingly repressive domestic policies, however, bilateral relations have been strained since 2016, and even more so since 2017 in light of the increasing numbers of German nationals being arbitrarily detained or prevented from leaving Turkey. The crisis in the eastern Mediterranean put the EU’s relationship with Turkey under strain in 2020. During its Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2020 and beyond, Germany worked intensively to bring about de-escalation in this region.
Germany is Turkey’s most important trading partner and one of the biggest foreign investors in the country. Bilateral trade in 2020 was worth 36.6 billion euro. There are more than 7400 German companies or Turkish companies with German equity participation in Turkey. The Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO), which was founded in 2018, and the German-Turkish Energy Forum serve as platforms for dialogue between policymakers and business people from the two countries. Subject to the restrictions on travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey is a popular destination for German tourists.
Turkey is an EU candidate country, and the German Government sees its accession negotiations, which began in 2005, as open-ended.
At both EU and bilateral level, the German Government provides Turkey with support for the approximately 3.7 million Syrian refugees living in the country, especially in the form of humanitarian assistance to meet the basic needs of refugees as well as to support host communities.
Germany’s main cultural relations and education policy projects with Turkey are:
- the Tarabya Cultural Academy in Istanbul, which provides artists’ residencies
- the German-Turkish Youth Bridge, aimed at strengthening bilateral youth exchange
- the Turkish-German University in Istanbul
- the German schools in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir and other schools in the Schools: Partners for the Future programme
- the Spaces of Culture project in Turkey, which is designed to promote and create cultural spaces