Turkish gov't to pass legislation for Turks abroad

Under the proposed package, Turkey will begin diplomatic initiatives in Germany, Austria, Belgium and Holland, where Turkish citizens are subject to discrimination through employment and social security laws.

Turkish gov't to pass legislation for Turks abroad

The government has begun preliminary work on a legislative package to make the lives of the 5 million Turkish migrants residing in foreign countries across the world easier.

The proposed package, on which the government will begin working actively when Parliament reconvenes in October, focuses particularly on the problems faced by Turks residing in EU countries. The package seeks to address Turkish citizens' problems in military conscription, voting, social security, marriage, access to religious services, visas, passports, education and employment. According to official data, nearly 2.5 million Turks live in Germany, 500,000 live in France, 351,000 in Holland, 250,000 in the US, 200,000 in Austria and 138,000 in Australia.
Sait Yazıcıoğlu, the state minister for Turks residing abroad, told Today's Zaman that a recent report prepared by a parliamentary commission on Turkish citizens in foreign countries is the only study ever made on the problems faced by such Turks. "That report will be our roadmap in preparing the package," he said. "We plan to solve the problems of Turks living abroad in the next parliamentary session."

According to official figures, 1.5 million Turkish citizens in European countries have also acquired citizenship in their host countries. Nearly 960,000 Turkish students are studying in elementary, secondary and high schools in Europe, while 44,000 attend European universities. Throughout Europe 80,000 Turkish employers employ 420,000 people. The total turnover of Turkish employers tops 35 billion euros.

According to data from the central bank, Turkish citizens residing abroad have brought $127 billion into Turkey through bank transactions since 1961. The total amount of foreign currency at the central bank deposited by Turks residing abroad is $16 billion.

Voting can be a major difficulty for Turks living abroad. In most European countries, Turkish citizens can only vote at customs gates at airports or border crossings, making it extremely difficult to vote. The 2.1 million registered Turkish voters residing in Europe have the power to elect 28 deputies to Parliament. Under the proposed package the Foreign Ministry will increase its efforts to convince European countries to allow Turkish citizens to vote at consulates and embassies. Some countries, particularly Germany, have not allowed ballot boxes to be situated in Turkey's diplomatic missions, citing security concerns, although Turkey has been trying to solve the problem for more than a decade.

Completing the obligatory military service is another major problem for Turkish citizens abroad. Most would like to see a reduction in the fees paid to decrease the required time one must serve in the army -- an option available to individuals who spend at least three years abroad. The government will try to find ways to make these payments more financially reasonable through talks with the Defense Ministry and the General Staff.

Turks living abroad are usually hit worst when unemployment rates in Europe, particularly in Germany, go up. Under the proposed package, Turkey will begin diplomatic initiatives in Germany, Austria, Belgium and Holland, where Turkish citizens are subject to discrimination through employment and social security laws.

The government will plan similar strategies to convince European countries unwilling to unite working parents with their spouses or children back home.

Changing legislation to allow convicts sentenced in foreign countries to serve the rest of their sentence in Turkey after a certain period of time and promoting foreign language education and scholarship activities are other items to be included in the package. The package will also seek to implement new policies to involve the Foreign Ministry more proactively in the solving of visa and documentation problems encountered by business people when they travel abroad.

Today's Zaman

Last Mod: 13 Ağustos 2008, 08:45
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