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. Bilateral relations have been strained since 2016, however, especially since increasing numbers of German nationals have been arbitrarily detained or prevented from leaving Turkey. The crisis in the eastern Mediterranean also put Germany’s and the EU’s relationship with Turkey under strain in 2020.
Germany is Turkey’s most important trade 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 forums for dialogue between policymakers and business people from the two countries. Subject to the restrictions on travel as a result of 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 the EU and bilateral level, the German Government provides Turkey with support for the approximately 3.7 million Syrian refugees living in the country. Since 2012, the Federal Foreign Office has provided a total of 217 million euro in humanitarian assistance, primarily to meet basic needs. Since 2015, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has provided around 617 million euro to help refugees and Turkish municipalities that host them.
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.