INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Structural Limits to Integrating Turkish

Published: Fri 16 Jun 2006 02:45 PM
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RR RUEHWEB
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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 161445Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3743
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0578
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 0126
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
UNCLAS BERLIN 001672
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EUR/AGS AND DRL/IL, LABOR FOR ILAB - BRUMFIELD
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECIN ECON ELAB SOCI TU GM
SUBJECT: STRUCTURAL LIMITS TO INTEGRATING TURKISH
IMMIGRANTS INTO THE GERMAN ECONOMY
1. SUMMARY. Nearly 50 years since the first wave of Trkish
immigrants arrived in Germany, economic inegration remains
one of the Turkish immigrant comunity's greatest challenges.
Prospects for greter economic integration are dimmed by
high unemloyment rates, low education levels, and lack of
German language proficiency among Turkish immigrant. Two
other factors limiting further integratio are the
maintenance of a Muslim "parallel sociey" within the Turkish
immigrant community and th lack of opportunities for upward
mobility within the German job market. However, some recent
developments suggest inroads are being made to improve
integration of the Turkish minority into the German economy.
First, a growing entrepreneurial class of small and
medium-sized businesses is emerging within the Turkish
community. Second, the German public and private sectors
have begun to place greater emphasis on integration
assistance and on fostering entrepreneurial opportunities for
Turks. These recent efforts offer some hope that, with time,
further economic integration of the Turkish minority in
Germany will be possible. END SUMMARY.
TURKISH ROLE IN THE GERMAN ECONOMY
----------------------------------
2. Germany is host to approximately 2.6 million Turks
(including Turkish-born immigrants and ethnic Turks born in
Germany), which constitute 3% of the entire German population
and 70% of Turks in the EU. Turkish immigration into Germany
began in the 1960s, when Germany was in need of temporary,
unskilled laborers. The majority of Turkish immigrants
decided to stay in Germany and their families soon followed.
Today, almost 700,000 of the Turks living in Germany were
also born here. Though the inflow of migrants from Turkey
has been on the decline, the German Federal Statistics Bureau
estimates that some 50,000 Turkish immigrants arrive in
Germany annually. The largest clusters of Turkish immigrants
reside in Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg, and the states of
Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hessen and North Rhein Westphalia.
3. The economic status of Turkish immigrants in Germany has
remained largely unchanged since the 1960s - even among
second and third generation Turks. Turkish immigrants
continue to be over-represented in unskilled and blue-collar
jobs, such as janitorial work, construction and in the
garment industry. Since the 1960s, however, mechanization
and outsourcing have reduced the need for many low-skill jobs
in Germany. As a result, Turkish immigrants face more dire
economic circumstances than before, with higher rates of
unemployment and more households requiring welfare
assistance.
4. The unemployment rate among Turkish immigrants is roughly
three times the German national average (33% versus 11% in
Germany overall), and predominantly affects young or
unskilled Turks. All legal immigrants in Germany enjoy
social benefits provided by the government. Some local
governments say high unemployment among the Turkish
population causes them to allocate as much as 70% of their
budgets to welfare payments.
CHALLENGES TO ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: TURKISH FAILURES
--------------------------------------------- -------
5. Turkish socio-economic self-segregation has helped cause
the emergence of a Muslim "parallel society" within Germany,
in which immigrant Turks have limited and discouraged
interaction with non-Turks. According to the Turkish Embassy
in Berlin, this phenomenon has exacerbated the socio-economic
division between Germans and Turks and is a major obstacle
preventing further integration of Turkish immigrants into the
German economy. In particular, the perpetuation of this
"parallel society" contributes to the low educational levels
of achievement by young Turks in Germany and the
unwillingness of many Turkish immigrants to gain
professional-level German language proficiency.
6. Although young Turks' educational performance in Germany
is slowly improving, poor test scores and high dropout rates
make upward mobility difficult. Immigration experts allege
that the poor performance among Turkish youth in school is
caused by the presence of the "parallel society", in which
less value is placed on achievement within the German
education system. Fewer than 10% of 18-25 year olds of
Turkish descent in Germany are enrolled in higher education.
Fewer Turkish immigrants successfully complete vocational
school than non-foreigners and, according to a recent report
by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the number of Turks in
German apprenticeship programs has dropped nearly 52% since
1995.
7. Lack of German language competence among Turkish
immigrants is a reflection of their limited economic
integration in Germany and the pervasiveness of the "parallel
society" phenomenon, in which the Turkish language is
preferred and used substantially more than German. Without
German, however, Turks have difficulty finding jobs. As a
recent study of Germany's education system explains, lack of
German language ability is a "decisive obstacle" in an
immigrant's educational and future career. According to data
from the Turkish Embassy, 37% of all Turkish immigrants in
Germany lack "good" German speaking skills; in Berlin, which
is host to the largest Turkish immigrant community in the EU,
48% have less than "good" German speaking skills.
CHALLENGES TO ECONOMIC INTEGRATION: GERMAN FAILURES
--------------------------------------------- ------
8. Exacerbating young Turkish immigrants' poor educational
performance is Germany's rigid education system, which
"tracks" students on a set career path on the basis of their
performance in their first four years in primary school. In
2004-5, approximately 60% of Turkish immigrants in Germany
were "tracked" into a trade or vocational school.
9. The Turkish Embassy claims German employers discriminate
against Turkish immigrants. Embassy officials say employers
prefer to hire immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Discrimination is more pervasive in eastern Germany, they
say, where there are fewer foreigners and xenophobia is more
blatant. The German government, too, has historically made
integration difficult for Turkish immigrants. Prior to 2000,
Turkish immigrants without German ancestry could not gain
German citizenship, regardless of whether they had been born
in Germany or lived in Germany for many years. Despite
reforms to German citizenship laws after 2000, some states,
such as Baden-Wuerttemberg, continue to impose tougher
restrictions on applicants from Islamic countries, including
Turkey.
PROSPECTS FOR INTEGRATION
-------------------------
10. Despite the many obstacles to economic integration, there
are reasons for optimism, given developments in both the
Turkish community and government policy. The high rate of
unemployment, the rigidity of Germany's educational system,
and the growing demand of the Turkish immigrant population
for goods and services have caused a growing percentage of
Turkish immigrants to become entrepreneurs -- specializing in
family-run, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as
kiosks and delicatessens, which have had cross-over appeal
among both Turkish and non-Turkish consumers. Recently, the
weekly newsmagazine "Der Spiegel" reported Turkish SMEs have
accounted for the creation of more than 300,000 jobs in
Germany. Turkish Embassy statistics indicate that as of
2004, 61,300 Turkish entrepreneurs exist in Germany,
contributing $9.1 billion in investments with an annual
turnover of $36 billion.
11. A variety of German and Turkish businesses and
organizations are working to tap into the Turkish community's
growing entrepreneurial spirit. For example, several German
banks, including Deutsche Bank, are beginning to employ
Turkish banking representatives to improve their appeal to
potential customers in the Turkish community. The state
government of North Rhein Westphalia has begun a program
called ReTra (Regionale Transferstellen), which acts as an
advisory body to local immigrants interested in creating
their own enterprises. Furthermore, Turkish business
associations and Turkish participation in trade unions is
flourishing.
12. Beginning in 2005, Germany's Federal Ministry of the
Interior began requiring all new immigrants to take a
six-month, 630-hour "integration course", consisting of
beginning and intermediate German language instruction and an
orientation course to familiarize participants with Germany's
history, culture and legal system. This $270 million,
federally-funded program, is intended to help provide
immigrants with the opportunity to "take part in all aspects
of social, political and economic life" in Germany. This is
the first time the federal government has funded and executed
a program geared toward integrating immigrants into the
country; an initial review of the success of the program is
due by 1 July 2007.
TIMKEN
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