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Germany and Turkey: Bilateral relations

11.10.2023 - 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 crisis in the eastern Mediterranean put the EU’s relations with Turkey under strain in 2020; Germany is working intensively towards de-escalation. Since the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria on 6 February 2023, the EU and Germany have been providing comprehensive support.

Germany is Turkey’s most important trading partner and one of the country’s biggest foreign investors. In 2022, bilateral trade reached a record high of 51.6 billion euro. Turkish exports to Germany increased by 26.7% over 2021 to 24.6 billion euro and Turkish imports from Germany grew by 32.4 % to 27 billion euro. Almost 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.

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 3.7 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
  • the expansion of municipal cooperation.

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