Study Tour 2009

Day 1 – Sunday September 6th – Leadership in Theory and Action

The official welcome began on Sunday Sept. 6th at the Orbis Seminarzentrum in Munich, followed by a presentation entitled “What is Leadership?” given by Intercultural Management Trainer Ursula Leitzmann. Having worked extensively in the field of Intercultural Training and Consulting in both the US and Germany, Mrs. Leitzmann is an expert on the kinds of challenges one faces in a global work environment.

She began the presentation with an introduction on the definition of culture and went on to discuss some of the problems which may arise when different cultural perceptions, norms and values come into play in a work environment. Managing cultural differences properly can be a key factor in getting things done effectively across borders. With increased contact of personnel and customers from diverse cultural backgrounds, there is a growing demand for businesses to understand and manage the diverse values, perceptions, business worldviews and behaviour of corporations, staff, and its customers. The next presentation was given by GMT 2007 alumnus Benjamin Didszuweit who spoke about his own successful leadership initiative, The German-Turkish School Exchange Program (Deutsch-Türkische Schüleraustausch). Mr. Didszuweit started the project as an initiative stemming from the Germany Meets Turkey Forum, and in 2008 eleven high-school students from the Paul-Klee-Gymnasium in Overath visited a partner school in Istanbul (Kadiköy Anadolu Lisesi). The students attended classes and stayed with a host family, gaining an invaluable insight into Turkish daily life. In 2009 a similar exchange was made for Turkish students to come to Germany. Mr. Didzuweit gave his account of the process from idea to fully-operational program. It is now sponsored by the Robert Bosch Foundation.

To relax and reflect upon the first day's activities, participants headed to the historic Hofbräuhaus for some traditional Bavarian food.

Day 2 – Monday September 7th – Survival and Adaptation in the Global Environment

The second day began with a presentation by Alexander Sixt, Head of Corporate Development and Strategy at Sixt Headquarters in Munich. Sixt is the largest German car rental company and one of the fastest growing mobility providers worldwide. During the presentation Mr. Sixt spoke about Internationalism and some of the challenges which global businesses face, particularly with regard to the global economy.

In light of the recent economic crisis and the subsequent recession in the auto industry and the downturn in consumer spending and travel which ensued, Sixt Car Rental reacted accordingly. By reducing overhead, adjusting fleet capacity, and continuing to be an innovative company in terms of leadership and marketing techniques, Sixt Car Rental expects to emerge comparatively unscathed from the crisis which has crippled so many other business in the mobility industry. The presentation offered participants a unique perspective on Internationalism and survival in an increasingly global business environment.

Afterwards participants made their way to the Roland Berger Headquarters for the next presentation on “Corporate Engagement in the Private Sector and the Responsibility of Young Leaders.” Though any trip to the Highlight Towers is an experience in itself, (measuring 126 m and 113 m tall respectively), participants also benefitted from the advice of experts Dr. Verena Reichel and Christina Dengler on topics like CSR and Corporate Management. It was a great opportunity for participants to learn about the corporate engagement of a German company operating worldwide. Both speakers additionally discussed projects undertaken by Roland Berger which promote the mutual benefit of social initiatives and their private sector sponsor.

In the evening, participants headed to the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) Headquarters, Germany's largest national subscription daily newspaper. In the age of digitalization, many newspapers are making a partial transition to web portals and the Süddeutsche is no exception. Speaker Christiane Schlötzer began the presentation entitled “The Influence of Foreign Affairs – Reporting on Intercultural Relations” with an introduction to the rapidly changing world of printed media. Mrs. Schlötzer is currently the Deputy Head of Correspondence at the SZ. As a former foreign correspondent in Istanbul., Mrs. Schlötzer drew from her rich experience in foreign reporting to discuss its implications for German/Turkish relations. She also spoke about key journalistic issues in Turkey like the situation of minorities and freedom of the press. Participants were eager to find out more about her experience as a foreign correspondent.

A Long and Diverse History in Media

Born in Munich in 1954, Christina Schlötzer first began working as a freelance journalist during her study of Politology, Journalism Science, and Economic Geography. She later went on to work as a radio reporter for NDR-Hamburg Welle and Bavarian Radio in Munich, as well as becoming a reporter focusing on state politics for the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). In 1992 she began working for the Süddeutsche Zeitung as political (Landtag) correspondent and in 1994 as parliamentary correspondent in Bonn and Berlin. From 2001 to 2005, she was foreign correspondent to Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus. As a German in Istanbul, Mrs. Schlötzer is aware of the perceptions of Turkey in Germany and vice-versa.

Day 3 – Tuesday September 8th – Urban Planning in a Historic City

After a relaxing walking tour through the historic city center, participants made their way to the Department of Labour and Economic Development for a presentation entitled “Promotion of Economic Development and Successful Urban Management.” During the presentation Deputy Head of Economic Development Rita Müller-Roider explained some of the responsibilities and obligations of the department as well as the factors responsible for Munich's successful urban management and economic success. With its “healthy mix of global players” and “broad range of innovative growth industries,” Munich truly has a diverse economic structure. It is this diversity which has allowed Munich to maintain a stable and robust economy even in times of economic crisis. With the lowest unemployment rate of all german cities (4.4%), Munich remains one of Germany's most resilient cities owing in part to strong economic planning and development.

Day 4 – Wednesday September 9th – An Introduction to Policy in Berlin

The forum’s first day in Berlin began at the Bundestag, where the participants gathered in a conference room with an impressive view of the River Spree.  After a short welcome speech, ICD Director Mark Donfried introduced guest speaker Willaim Noe, a Dutch economist who has been working for the European Commission for 15 years.  In a lecture entitled ‘The Accession of Turkey to the European Union’ Mr. Noe gave a detailed account of Turkey’s long journey on the road to Europe, which began in 1987 when Turkey formally applied for EU membership.  Two of the points stressed by Mr. Noe were the fact Turkey is a European country, (only European countries can be accepted as candidates for EU membership), and that the criteria for EU membership are political and economic, meaning that cultural issues are irrelevant to the debate regarding Turkey’s accession.   Mr. Noe’s arguments for the acceptance of Turkey as an EU member included the fact that economic interdependence creates an incentive to cooperate and that the entry of Turkey would be a symbol of diversity which the EU wants to represent.

Following an interesting debate on the subject of Turkey’s relationship with the EU, the group had the opportunity go on to the roof of the Bundestag.  Clear skies and brilliant sunshine meant that the panoramic view of Berlin from the top of the building was particularly spectacular.  After a group photograph in front of Norman Foster’s glass dome the participants descended once again to have lunch in a riverside restaurant. 

The afternoon’s activities took place at the German Foreign Office, an imposing building which was home to the Reichsbank in the 1930s and an office of the SED government during the times of the DDR.  Participants gathered in the Press Briefing Room and were greeted by Ambassador Heidrun Tempel, Special Representative for Dialogue among Civilizations. While other departments focus exclusively on policy decisions, Ambassador Tempel explores the different ways dialogue can be established between different groups and to what extent. As she explained, it is first necessary to facilitate dialogue and joint solutions at the local level. She also spoke about several initiatives which contribute to this very goal, including the Ernst Reuter Initiative. In the discussion that followed participants discussed many related issues including the Islam conference and the need for learning Turkish to be given more weight by the German Education system.

Initiatives that Bring Cultures Together

The Ernst Reuter Initiative is a bilateral project set up by the German and Turkish Foreign ministers in 2006, which aims to foster intercultural dialogue between Germany and Turkey.  The Ernst Reuter Initiative, which is also a partner to the ICD’s ‘Germany Meets Turkey’ forum, is named after a Social Democrat and Former Mercedes CEO who fled to Turkey to escape Nazi persecution: a reference to an aspect of the historical German-Turkish relationship which is often overlooked. The initiative fosters intercultural dialogue - particularly in the areas of academia and media - with the intention of changing people’s perceptions and preconceptions of both cultures through education. 

Later in the afternoon the participants further developed their Leadership Initiatives in the Foreign Office’s International Club.  The day was ended by dinner at the International Club where the participants were joined by young diplomats from the German Foreign Office, alumni of the program, as well as by some of ICD’s advisory board members and speakers.

Day 5 – Thursday September 10th – Exploring Kreuzberg and the Turkish Community in Berlin

On Thursday participants met at Kotbusser Tor in Kreuzberg.  This district, which bordered the Berlin Wall during times of German division, is home to one of the largest populations of Turkish migrants in the capital.  The GMT group’s first destination was the Kreuzberg Museum, where guest speaker Göcken Demiragli gave a talk on the History of Turkish Migration to Berlin.  Ms. Demiragli explained that since the arrival of the French religious refugees in the 18th Century, Kreuzberg has been continually shaped and re-shaped by different migrant groups and that today every 3rd person living in this diverse district has a non-German mother tongue.  During the presentation Ms. Demiragli described the Gastarbeiter recruitment procedure and the very difficult living conditions faced by migrant workers in Kreuzberg in the 1960s and 70s, of whom the majority were women.  Following the talk the participants discussed the migration issue and its related problems. Some even shared their own anecdotes and experiences with the group. 

During the subsequent walking tour of Kreuzberg, Ms. Demiragli explained how a housing project in the 1970s, whose aim was to improve and modernize Kreuzberg, has produced a negative social effect by segregating migrant workers form Kreuzberg’s non-migrant population.  She also touched on the fact that Kreuzberg has a long history of community organizing, like the squatters projects of the 1970s which successfully prevented further ‘modernizing’ and the modern initiative ‘Mothers Without Borders’, in which a group of women work together to keep drug users out of apartment complexes.  The tour of Kreuzberg ended in Restaurant Hazir where the group had the opportunity to enjoy some traditional Turkish specialities before making their way to the Berlin Senate to hear a talk on Germany’s Integration Policies in Practice given by Commissioner for Migration and Integration, Günther Peining.

After lunch at the Hazir restaurant in Kreuzberg, the group arrived at the Department for Integration and Migration. The department was formed in 1981 in response to a growing awareness of the need to address the issue of integration. Günther Piening, who has held the head position since 2003, gave a talk entitled “Germany's Integration Policies in Practice.” He began with a brief history of the department and explained some of its primary functions. The department's central task, explained Mr. Piening, is “to execute the principles of immigration policy.” By working cooperatively with other administrative departments it seeks to fight discrimination, promote ethnic and labor diversity, and “break down barriers to integration in the legal, administrative, and social sector.”

Mr. Piening also touched on the important contributions of migrant associations, with whom the department works closely, as sources of information and bridges to immigrant communities, calling them “the backbone of policy creation.” The Department also serves as a mediator between the migrant community and the policy, which is particularly important in Berlin, where some areas of the city have highly-concentrated and relatively segregated immigrant populations.

He closed the presentation reminding the participants that the abilities and initiative of immigrants are a valuable asset to Germany. Following the talk participants were able to ask questions and discussed education, policy evaluation, and Berlin's new Integration Monitoring System.

Walking through the Brandenburger Gate, the GMT group arrived at the European House directly across from the historic Hotel Adlon. In a conference room on the 3rd floor with a nice view of the bustling square below, Mr. Tamer Ergün gave a presentation entitled “Turkish Media in Germany and Successful Leadership Initiatives.” He is the head of Radyo Metropol, the largest Turkish radio station in Germany.

The presentation itself was given in German and Turkish. This created a dynamic atmosphere for the participants, who also began to switch between the two languages. It also helped to illustrate a point Mr. Ergün was making about language use among many 3rd generation immigrants in Berlin: German is often seen as the institutional language, while Turkish remains the emotional language. The radio station itself, broadcast mostly in Turkish, is therefore able to connect with its target demographic in a meaningful way.

He presented some examples of successful initiatives promoted by the radio station, including “Lesen macht Spaß!” (Reading is Fun!) which promotes children's books and reading at the annual Kinderfest celebration. As a means of promotion, the radio station had German and Turkish celebrities record 30-40 second “spots” about their favorite books as children. The importance of programs like these cannot be stressed enough, especially considering the alarming language deficiencies of many children of both Turkish and German origin in Berlin.

After the presentation the participants asked about the responsibilities of radio stations like Radyo Metropol and what kind of a role they can play in promoting initiatives.

From the European House, the GMT group returned to the ICD House for a presentation by Mr. Vural Öger entitled “Election Year2009: The Influence of Integration Policy and the Accession of Turkey to the EU on Elections Campaigns in Germany and the EU.” As the founder of Öger Tours and former member of the European Parliament, Mr. Öger was able to offer a unique perspective on the political and economic implications of Turkey's accession to the EU.

He began the presentation talking a bit about his history and connection with Germany, and went on to discuss the political characteristics of Turkey and what it has to offer as a potential EU member. As a country with a “free-market economy, a secular government, and a democratic system,” Turkey could be a valuable asset to an outward-looking EU which seeks increasingly to become a global actor. He then went on to explain how various political parties have spun the issue for campaigning purposes, further complicating an already heavily debated matter. Despite this, Mr. Öger remains hopeful that with time, an accession agreement can be reached from which both the EU and Turkey will benefit.

A lively question and answer session ensued in which the economic arguments for and against Turkey's accession were considered. The various opinions and perspectives among participants reflected the controversy which has surrounded this topic for years.

Day 6 – Friday September 11th – Considering Integration and Links to the Future

On Friday morning the GMT forum began with the presentation entitled “Turkish-German Relations: The History and Future of a Special Relationship” given by the Councilor Başçeri of the Turkish Embassy.

Councilor Başçeri began by speaking about the close historical and social bonds which Germany and Turkey share and offered some current statistics by way of illustration. An estimated 2.8 million ethnic Turks live in Germany with around 800,000 receiving German citizenship in the last 20 years. Around 4 million Germans visit Turkey every year and some 70,000 are living there permanently. The interest of the Embassy therefore “lies in promoting these exchanges” so that citizens of both nations “feel respected, comfortable, and share in social activities.” He also explained how considerable investment and strong trade relations have contributed to a deep economic bond between the two countries.

Leaving the topics of past and present relations, Councilor Başçeri moved to the future of these bonds. Turkey's potential accession to the EU is naturally a large consideration in the matter. Turkey has already proven itself to be a valuable economic partner in Europe in terms of trade and direct investment, and its strategic value as a bridge to the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Caucasus is not to be overlooked. However, as to its requirement to fulfill the EU membership criteria in terms of civill liberties, Councilor Başçeri stated that “Turkey must do its homework.”

During the question and answer session participants asked questions about the dual citizenship issue and brought up some interesting features of the current citizenship law, which grants minors dual citizenship until their 18th birthday, at which time they must choose their national identity. The issue of Cyprus was also discussed.

Participants were able to reflect upon the issues discussed at the Turkish Embassy while enjoying lunch at the Art Café on Fasanenstraße. After eating the participants gathered outside on the patio to take in some Berliner sunshine before heading to the next presentation.

After lunch the participants returned to the ICD offices on Kufürstendamm for a presentation from Dr. Bassam Tibi entitled “Germany and Turkey: Managing Intercultural Encounters” As the former Professor for International Relations at the University of Göttingen and a leading figure in the discussion about Islam and Europe, Dr. Tibi offered his analysis of Turkey's accession to the EU and what it could mean for Europe. He light-heartedly compared his own situation with that of a “europeanized” Turkey in the EU; of asian origin, but a european citizen. Of the 4.3 million Muslims in Germany, he explained, 2.5 million are Turkish. This has obvious implications for what Dr. Tibi calls Euroislam. Since “Europe is not a Christian club,” it has to learn to deal with Islam as a social reality in such a way that Muslim citizens can integrate into European society without having to give up their identity.

Dr. Tibi said he supports Turkey's accession to the EU with special conditions, citing worries about whether it meets the democratic standards of other European countries. He spoke of a divided Turkey, consisting of europeanized areas like Izmir, Ankara and Istanbul on one hand, and a “rural society deeply rooted in the Islamic tradition” on the other.

Germany, Turkey and NATO: Considerations of the Past and Future

Friday's final presentation was titled “Germany and Turkey's Defense Strategies and their Respective Role in NATO” and was given by Jan Techau of the German Council on Foreign Relations. The talk began with a history of Germany's foreign policy starting with Helmut Kohl. At this time, Mr. Techau explained, Germany's foreign policy was limited more or less to the appeasement of its 9 neighboring countries. With the creation of the EU, Germany began to slowly regain a sense of identity as a European state and has since developed a strong role in European foreign relations.

Though Turkey joined NATO in 1952, its role as a NATO member-state has changed over the decades as well. From a strategic military location during the Cold War era, it is now seen by some to play a similar role as a strategic partner in the fight against Terrorism. Germany has historically relied upon NATO as its only option for “re-militarization.

Turkey and NATO: The Factor of Islam

Since the September 11th attacks, major questions have been raised about what Article 5 of the NATO charter could mean for Turkey and other NATO members. Though Turkey has a secular government, its connection with Islam is inevitable on some issues. When Denmark's former Prime Minister Fogh Rasmussen failed to satisfactorily address the publication of the 2005 cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan initially opposed his appointment as NATO Secretary General. Though an agreement was later reached, resulting in Rasmussen becoming Secretary General and pledging his respect for Islam on his first day in office, Turkey's commitment to NATO is being heavily debated.

During the question and answer section, participants asked questions about the Nabucco Pipeline from Turkey to Austria and what implications it has for European energy as well as Turkey's accession to the EU. France, for example, has attempted to block Turkey's accession on “political” grounds, but is intrigued by the Nabucco project and wants to take part. This sort of political ambivalence on both sides makes it difficult to predict what will take place in the years to come.

Day 7 – Saturday September 12th – Considering Leadership Initiatives

The Saturday morning activities provided a good opportunity for participants to reflect upon the ideas and discussions of the week as well as to discuss their own initiatives. The final presentation of the GMT Forum was entitled “Leadership Initiative – A Guideline” given by Mr. Prime Lee. Though trained as an Architect (Technical University of Berlin), Mr. Lee has also worked with radio stations, printed media, and television in the promotion of numerous leadership initiatives. The presentation sought to provide participants with ideas on how to bring their own dreams to fruition.

He began the presentation citing examples of successful initiatives which he was able to achieve with almost no financial resources. As Mr. Lee put it, as long as you have “a good idea and the right message,” most initiatives are possible. He shared his personal method for approaching big projects and tried to help some participants apply it to their own initiatives.

After the presentation participants had the opportunity to discuss their own initiatives in their groups and prepare a brief presentation to share.

The last day was concluded with lunch at a restaurant nearby.