Interview with Vural Öger, Founder of Öger Tours and Former Member of European Parliament

11.09.2009, Interview conducted by Jordan Kynes

After graduating from the Technical University in Berlin with a graduate degree in Engineering in 1968, Mr. Öger founded the Istanbul Travel Company (Reisebüro Instanbul), which offered the first direct flight from Hamburg to Istanbul. Just over a decade later he founded Öger Tours which has since then become Europe's largest travel provider to and from Turkey. His desire to assist the Turkish community led to the  founding of the German-Turkish Foundation (Deutsch-Türkische Stiftung) to foster dialogue between the two cultures.

Mr. Öger granted the CD-News team a short interview on this topic.

You were one of the founding members of the German-Turkish Foundation in 1998. What were the goals and objectives at that time?

Well, to foster better relations between countries and people who are living here in Germany. Also to fight against prejudice and to contribute to a better understanding. There was a lot of prejudice between the Turkish community living here and the Germans at that time. I wanted to have more Germans in this foundation, especially prominent Germans because there were a lot of clubs and organizations at that time which consisted only of Turks and you know, if 20 Turks come together to talk about relations with the Germans and nobody knows them then it is not productive. So I just wanted to provide a German perspective.

What kinds of programs or initiatives did/does the foundation promote?

We did a lot of things with the media  every year. For example, we organized a meeting in Turkey with the German and Turkish media. Among other things we established an orphanage for the victims of the earthquake in Gölcük, Turkey in 1999. Lots of our past and present initiatives can be found on our website. We basically created programs and initiatives which would contribute to a better understanding between the Turkish and German people.

And did you bring these objectives of a better cultural understanding with you into the European parliament?

That was one aspect, but Turkey was of course not the only issue. You know I'm not a politically-oriented person, so it was very challenging for me, not only this issue of Turkey, but EU relations with all countries. I was on the committee for external affairs. So it was perhaps in my function, not as an original German, but as a German citizen that I was good figure for the integration of immigrants in Germany.

Thank you for your time Mr. Öger.