Young Leaders´ Forums

Germany Meets Turkey

May 2010

Germany Meets Turkey: A Forum for Young Leaders

(Berlin, May 16th – 21st, 2010)

Forum Report

The six day long conference for “Germany Meets Turkey: A Forum for Young Leaders” took place in Berlin from May 16th – May 21st 2010. The program focused on the concept of cultural diplomacy – how it can be defined, how it can be applied, and who practices it – as well as discussing the opportunity of exploring bilateral relations between Germany and Turkey. Over issues, such Turkey’s accession to the EU, integration, and Germany and Turkey’s academic, cultural and economic relations, were also explored. The forum speakers included leading figures in contemporary European politics as well as many members of academia active in the non-for-profit sector. The participants were awarded an official certificate of attendance at the end of the program, which confirmed attendance and provided details of the speakers who took part during the week and the topics discussed.

Forum Speakers

Mark C. Donfried (Director and Founder of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy)
Ali Murat Başçeri (Counsellor at the Turkish Embassy in Berlin)
Dr. Mekonnen Mesghena (Director of Department for Migration, Citizenship and Intercultural Democracy, Heinrich Böll Foundation)
Memet Kiliç (Member of German Parliament)
Manuel Sarrazin (Member of German Green Party)
Senator Alan Ferguson (Former President of the Australian Senate)
Julia Boeck (Public Relations, Tanas Art Gallery)
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Brückner (Jean Monet Professor for European Studies, Stanford University)
Dr. Anne Duncker (Bilateral Cultural and Media Relations Europe)
Dr. Med. Elif Duygu Cindik (Medical Director for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Klinik am Schönen Moos)
Tamer Ergün Yikici (Head of Radyo Metropol)
Prof. Dr. Tanja Börzel (Freie Univerity, Berlin)
Dr. Katrin Böttger (Professor for Political Science at the Free University, Berlin)
Dr. Céline-Agathe Caro (Research assistant at the Institute for European Politics)
Dorit Klebe (Co-ordinator for European Politics at the Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, Berlin)
Dr. Ines Michalowski(Lecturer at the University of the Arts (UdK)
Prof. em. Dr. rer. Soc. Dietrich Thränhardt (Lecturer at the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies at University Osnabrück, Germany)
Sarmad Hussain (Member of German Parliament)
Mehmet Gökhan Tuncer (Lecturer at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences at Humboldt University in Berlin)
Peter Rees (Development Director of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy)


  • ICD House of Arts and Culture
  • Tanas Art Gallery
  • German Foreign Office
  • Turkish Embassy, Berlin
  • Neukölln
  • European Commission, Berlin
  • German Parliament

Summary of Events

Sunday 16th May 2010: The participants arrived were welcomed to the ICD House of Arts and Culture. They were subsequently briefed on the following days of lectures and discussions.

Monday May 17th, 2010: The conference opened with an introductory lecture on the field of Cultural Diplomacy, including its definition, application and relevancy to the current international sphere. In the afternoon, the participants visited the Turkish Embassy in Berlin and were informed on German-Turkish relations and the function of the embassy in fostering harmonious relations. The day ended with a lecture on the impact of the past on the perceptions of the present cultures, particularly the impact of the Gallipoli Campaign and its effect on present perceptions.

Tuesday May 18th, 2010: The day commenced with an optional walking tour of the city of Berlin, after which the participants visited the German Foreign Office and were lectured on the role of academic and cultural exchange between Germany and Turkey and its impacts on civil society, mainly through Cultural Diplomacy. The participants were then introduced to the effects of political Islam on Turkey and, consequentially, the relationship between Germany and Turkey. At the end of the day, the participants enjoyed a panel discussion on Turkey and its ascension to the European Union.

Wednesday 19th May: The morning began with a talk on the potential co-operation between Germany and Turkey over the issue of renewable energy resources. Before the break for lunch, the participants were given information on how to organise their own youth initiative program with the help of the ICD. The participants went to an art gallery in the afternoon and were given an insight as to how art could be used as tool for Cultural Diplomacy. At the German Parliament, the participants were lectured on the impact of Germany’s integration policies upon the Turkish community.

Thursday, 20th May: The morning began with a lecture on Music Culture in Turkey and among the Turkish Community in Germany. After a break for lunch, the participants listened to a talk on the issue of health care for Turkish immigrants living in Germany. The theme of immigration continued into the next discussion, in which immigration was discussed in a European comparative perspective. In the evening session, participants enjoyed a panel discussion on the topic of experts discussing the pros and cons of dual citizenship and the challenges it presents. The participants then had the option of visiting a nearby Berlin museum.

Friday, 21st May: On the final day of the conference, the participants visited the European Commission and were given an introductory lecture on the background of Turkish ascension to the European Union and its possible implications. The participants were then taken on a guided tour of Quartiersmanagement Körnerpark. In the afternoon, there was a lecture on examples of initiatives undertaken that contribute to the German-Turkish communities. Afterwards, the participants were able to present their own works and thesis on the German-Turkish relations. At the end of the day, the participants said farewell.

Monday, 17th May 2010

Central daily Themes
  • Before considering the role of Cultural Diplomacy today, it is important to look at its history and development.
  • Diplomacy has developed throughout time according to specific political and social contexts.
  • Throughout the twentieth century, Cultural Diplomacy has come to play a crucial role in the conduct of peaceful relations and interactions among countries, and within them.
  • The current relationship between the states of Germany and Turkey is in good standing.
  • Official visits from the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle, have aided to improve the diplomatic channels between the two countries.
  • The Turkish economy has been growing consistently over the past few years, to the extent that is proving to be a significant actor in the global economy. It is now the sixth largest economy in Europe, and the sixteenth internationally. The Operations and Coordination Division (OCD) have even stated that the Turkish economy is one of the top ten emerging national markets in the international economy.
  • Germany and Turkey did 23 billion euros in trade in 2008, but that decreased in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis, however in the first quarter of 2010, trade has increased 16%.
  • German-Turkish issues receive a lot of attention within the German political agenda and there have been ongoing integration problems, which is something that Başçeri said the Turkish embassy is trying to address.
  • It was stressed the fact that he wants German-Turks to be able to contribute to German society in good times and bad, and said that a major factor was improving education.
  • The Battle Of Gallipoli is a major part of Australia and New Zealand’s identity, and stressed that we must never make moral judgments today for events that happened in the past.

Tuesday, 18th May 2010

Central Daily Themes
  • A German-Turkish cultural initiative that started in September 2006 called the Ernst Reuter Initiative has had much success in integrating the Turkish diaspora into the German population.
  • The importance of German schools within Turkey and abroad was emphasised with a suggestion that it is a great investment for Germany, as it attracts foreign skilled workers to Germany.
  • The attitude of studying in Turkey has changed dramatically in the past few years with the emergence of Turkey as an economic power.
  • The Islamic political movement started after the Turkish revolution in which the Western approach of sovereignty was rejected. In the 1970s, however, the Islamist movement took speed when Islamist societies sought to take a more active role in politics in Turkey.
  • Political Islam today in Turkey emphasises the role of market reform and liberalising the economy, and treating the West as a competitor, not as an enemy or friend.
  • The process of Turkey joining the EU was compared to a “forward moving train”. This train, however, is moving very slowly.
  • Turkey has made great progress in meeting the criteria set by the EU, such as improving free speech laws and public debate has been more commonplace.
  • The issue of Turkey has been debated for quite some time, and has been very polarising within European public opinion, with the majority of Europeans polled saying they do not want Turkey to join the EU.
  • Anything less than full membership could be viewed as a major policy failure of the EU, and it would be unacceptable if Turkey were not granted full access to the EU.
  • However, the EU should probably focus on full integration of its newest members. Turkey may even be too big and too powerful to become a member at this point in time.

Wednesday, 19th May 2010

Central Daily Themes
  • The Turkish energy market was privatized in 2008. The government also has provided incentives and subsidies to promote renewable energy solutions.
  • Turkey also has geothermal energy capabilities, being the largest geothermal market in Europe and eleventh in the world. Turkey ratified their targets within the Kyoto Protocol in February 2009, and drafted a law on renewable energies in September of the same year.
  • There have only been gradual reforms to the German legislation system citing the fact that Germany did not have any new laws concerning migration until 1991.
  • Prior to this reform, the only law that existed was a “letter from the police” which had been in place since 1935.
  • Germany did not officially recognize that it was a destination country for immigrants until 2000.
  • The steps required for Turkish immigrants to become a part of German society such as learning German, and wanting to become an active member of German society.
  • The immigration laws of Germany legislation from 1914 to 2000 were effective, but in today's globalised world, these are no longer suitable for effective immigration and integration within Germany.
  • After 2000, the naturalisation process was made easier for existing German-Turks and new immigrants in general.
  • It was mentioned that today, a lot of German-Turks and Turks move back to Turkey because they are able to find jobs back home, and they feel respected.

Thursday, 20th May 2010

Central Daily themes

  • Traditional sheet music and how the Turkish adapted writing music from the Arabic style from right to left.
  • Turkish musical instruments have a long-standing tradition and continue to be played today in Turkey and among the Turkish diaspora in Germany.
  • France and the UK’s immigration models were compared and contrasted, as it was suggested that France’s immigration policies were lacking, while the UK’s showed how effective immigration and integration policies can be implemented.
  • Germany seeks to integrate its Turkish community now, unlike what had been done prior to the turn of the new millennium.
  • It was recognised that there is a difficulty of skilled foreign labour having equal access to the job market in Europe, which does not allow the improvement of living standards of the immigrants due to their lack of income.

Friday, 21st May 2010

Central Daily themes

  • When looking at Turkish integration into the European Union, it is important to ask whether Turkey is in fact a European state.
  • The human rights issue surrounding Turkey will continue to be a major challenge that Turkey must overcome in order to join the EU.
  • Nation-states are transforming which suggests that they were, on the whole, declining, and also the EU has evolved from an economic “old boys” club to a political entity.
  • In 1997, the entire broadcasts of the radio station, Radio Metropol, were in Turkish, 50% of the broadcast was dedicated to Turkish news, and 50% was dedicated to German news. However, the younger generations of Turks struggled with the Turkish language and were not able to fully understand everything.
  • Since 2006, the broadcast has moved to a bilingual format making it easier for listeners of German-Turkish descent, which emphasises the integration of the Turkish community into the German population.
  • Metropol also does its best to promote educational and social values by creating the 'Lesen macht Spaß' campaign, which was designed to improve children’s reading skills.
  • The majority of Turks have the attitude that learning should be done at school, but this campaign was designed to get parents more active in getting their children to read at home, and also to develop their language skills outside of school.