German-Turkish Relations

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Turkish - German relations were always crucial for the two countries throughout the history. However, in this paper I will focus on the most volatile and tense era between the countries. Germany and Turkey both officially and publicly were distant to each other. We can relate the tensions into three main spheres; international, internal and bilateral.

Firstly, when we look at the international sphere, with the end of the cold-war the whole world order has changed. With the emergence of new countries (CEEC's), the lift of the threat of Soviet Union, Turkey's importance in the eyes of the Germany has declined. Moreover, the increasing roles of NGO's and shift from the high security to low security issues had effected the relations by the activists, public and the media. New threats and solutions emerged.

Secondly, in the internal sphere on the one hand, Germany was under the burden of the unification. In addition the government in Germany has relatively negative attitudes towards Turkey in E.U. Moreover, Turks in Germany were increasing permanently. On the other hand, Turkey was dealing with the terror in the eastern and southeastern regions. The economic crises hit Turkey, resulting in 100% devaluation. The "politicized Islam" was another threat to Turkey's stability and prosperity.

Thirdly and most importantly, from Turkish point of view the lack of cooperation of Germany in the PKK issues, its reluctance in Turkey's accession to E.U; and from German point of view, Turkish constant violation of human rights and over reactions to the E.U. decisions have worsened the relationship. In addition, Turks in Germany always stand out as an important factor in Turkish – German relations.

To analyze the Turkish – German relations after 1990, one should first look at the historical background of the relations to understand the dynamics.


Turkish – German relations dates back to 800 hundred years. Turkish – German interactions started with the second crusade involving Friedrich Barbarossa and opposing Kılıçarslan the second.

When we look at the recent history, at the end of the 19th century, Ottoman Empire was replete with admiration to Germany. The construction of Baghdad railway in 1898, with Germany's aim of reaching to the Middle East, is an example of Ottoman – German close ties. German generals such as "General von der Golz" , who came in 1882 to train the Military personnel and regulate the army, and "Liman Von Sanders" , who commanded the Ottoman army in Palestine and Dardanelle, are examples of the cooperation in terms military between Germany and Turkey. Ottoman Empire, as the closest ally, joined Germany in the First World War. With the bombardment of Gobel – Braslav; Yavuz – Midilli of the Russia's southwestern shores, Sevastopol, Ottoman Empire joined Germany. The orthodox alliance even led to the dissolution of Ottoman Empire. Even after the First World War, Germany remained as Turkey's closest ally economically. "Germany was importing 14 percent of all the exports of Turkey." In the Second World War, German – Turkish relations were not bright. Turkey stayed neutral; however Germany remained as "the most important trading partner until 1944." At the end of the war Turkey declared war to Germany but only formally.

After the Second World War, Turkey and West Germany united against the Soviet threat under the NATO umbrella, in which Turkey joined in 1952 with Greece and Germany in 1955. Both countries were under the anti-communist pact. By 1961, Germany and Turkey signed a "Gastarbeiter" treaty, which allowed Turkish workers to work in West Germany. Guest worker program aimed at usage of workforce for a limited amount of time. Even if the program stopped in 1973, the flow of Turks to Germany did not stop. The population incrementally rose and became permanent. Now over 2.5 million Turks live in Germany. The smooth relationship...
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