Germany and Turkey: Bilateral relations

26.02.2024 - Article

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. However, bilateral relations are strained against the background of Turkey’s repressive domestic policies, especially in light of the increasing numbers of German nationals being arbitrarily detained or prevented from leaving Turkey since 2017. The EU and Germany have been providing comprehensive support to help overcome the impact of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria on 6 February 2023.

Germany is Turkey’s most important trading partner and one of the country’s biggest foreign investors. In 2023, the volume of bilateral trade rose to a record new high of 55 billion euro. Compared to the previous year, Turkish imports from Germany increased by 13.8% to 30.7 billion euro and Turkish exports to Germany decreased by 1.8% to 24.3 billion euro. More than 8000 German companies and Turkish companies with German equity participation are active 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 politics and business in the two countries. Turkey is a popular destination for German tourists. Following the downturn caused by the pandemic, tourism recovered in 2022 with figures similar to those in 2019 and further increased in 2023.

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 in hosting and providing for refugees in Turkey, including approximately 3.2 million people from Syria. This support strengthens the structures in 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,
  • 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, which is designed to promote and create cultural spaces, and
  • the expansion of municipal cooperation.


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