The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently visited Berlin highlighting the increasingly warm relationship between Turkey and Germany. The Prime Minister was there to open a new Turkish embassy complex in Berlin which will be their largest in the world. It shows how Turkey is becoming more active in international politics and emphasises the importance Turkey places on Turkish citizens living in Germany.
Turkey and Germany have a history that extends over two centuries and there are 2.5 million people living in Germany who are of Turkish descent. Most of these originally arrived in the 1960s under a guest workers program. Nowadays Germany is Turkey’s biggest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching €31.4 billion last year in spite of the ongoing financial crisis in Europe.
Germany is also top of the list for foreign investment into Turkey, and the number of companies of German origin, or who are funded with German money now exceeds 4,800. In addition Germany brings in important tourism revenue as there are around 4.8 million Germans who visit Turkey annually.
Turkey has gone from strength to strength over the past decade and is now the 16th largest economy in the world. As a result of its dynamic economy Germany recently terminated a 50 year long development aid program as it now regards Turkey has been an equal economic partner.
The fact that Ankara has gone to such trouble to create new trade opportunities with neighbouring countries and regions is something that is largely admired by German officials. It’s even been pointed out that Turkey could be regarded as being at least an inspiration if not a role model for people living in Arab Spring countries. In spite of Germany’s growing regard for Turkey it still remains unconvinced that Turkey should join the European Union, and still feels it should be offered a privileged partnership instead.