Germany and Turkey are linked by exceptionally wide-ranging and intensive relations in which the approximately three million people of Turkish descent living in Germany play an important role. Since 2016, however, bilateral relations have been under an increasing strain, particularly because a greater number of German citizens have been arbitrarily detained, prevented from leaving Turkey or banned from entering it since the start of 2017.
Germany is Turkey’s most important trade partner and its largest foreign investor. However, German exports to Turkey declined from 20.4 to 18 billion euros in 2019 because of the ongoing economic crisis in the country. Over 7400 German and Turkish companies in Turkey have received German equity investment. The Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO), which was set up in 2018, and the German-Turkish Energy Forum serve as forums for dialogue between policymakers and business people from the two countries. Notwithstanding the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey remains a popular destination with German holidaymakers.
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 198million euros in humanitarian assistance, primarily to meet refugees’ basic needs (food, shelter and healthcare). Since 2015, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has provided around 349 million euros 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