Turks mark 50th anniversary of Netherlands migration

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Turkish migration to one of the European Union’s founding countries, the Netherlands

Turks mark 50th anniversary of Netherlands migration

World Bulletin/News Desk

In 2012, the Netherlands were represented at the Eurovision Song Contest by a Rotterdam-born singer, from a Turkish father, Joan Franka. Joan’s

In the end, Joan, whose birth name is Ayten Kalan, didn’t win the Eurovision competition which gathers artists from various Eurasian countries each year.

Still, she is a prime example of a Turkish community that has immensely contributed to contemporary Dutch society.

As model Deniz Akkoyun before her. Born and raised in the central province of Utrecht in Holland, of Turkish parents, she was elected “Miss Nederland” in 2008.

Or Izmir-born actress Elvan Akyildiz, who had a key role on the children’s show, Sesamstraat, the Dutch co-production of Sesame Street, still a reference to children around the world.

Turkish people have played a crucial role in the cultural and economic development of the Netherlands, according to Dutch Consul General in Istanbul, Robert Schuddeboom as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Turkish migration to one of the European Union’s founding countries.

Indeed, many Turks swarmed to Western Europe after a “Labor Export Agreement” was signed between Turkey and the Netherlands in 1964, along with Belgium and Austria, following a similar deal with Germany in 1961.

These countries needed labor force for their fast-growing industrial demand. The Turks’ motive to head to the Netherlands was mainly economic: “to collect capital to start a small business in Turkey,” according to Turkey’s foreign ministry’s website.

“We needed labor to produce more then. Turkish people worked hard, together with the Dutch, to further develop Holland’s economy,” says Schuddeboom.

“The Turkish community in the Netherlands is very active in the commercial life as well as politics and cultural manifestations,” he adds.

Indeed, the Turkish community has produced some of the best contemporary writers in Holland such as 63-year old Turkish-born prize-winning writer Halil Gur or 46-year old Istanbul-born writer Sevtap Baycili whose second 1999 novel “The foreigner's nightmare” comically describes the path to integration for foreigners in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands’ State Secretary for Justice between 2007 and 2010 was none other than Turkish- Durtch politician Nebahat Albayrak.

Furthermore, there are more than 20,000 small and medium enterprises in the Netherlands run by Turkish entrepreneurs, according to Schuddeboom.

The chairman of the Turkish Workers’ Union in the Netherlands, one of the oldest Turkish unions, with a little more than 1,200 members, Mustafa Ayranci says the migrant workers who arrived in the Netherlands were “lucky” as the country’s boasts high living standards.    

“Around 290,000 people have the double Turkish- Dutch citizenship in the Netherlands,” says Ayranci. Nowadays, around 400,000 Turkish people live in the Netherlands, a country with a population of almost 17 million.

But, the Turkish community in the Netherlands has also known its share of hardships recently. 

Unemployment rate for Turks, or people of Turkish descent, stands at 42 percent, says Ayranci. According to him, the reason is an increase of discrimination in the Netherlands.

“If you look at the unemployment rates in the 15-to-25 age group, for Turks it is around 38 percent [while] for Dutch, it is 4 percent,” Ayranci says.

Although the Turkish community in the Netherlands remains relatively integrated, disputes still arise especially over cultural differences.

“Since 2001 and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, if you are coming from a Muslim country, there is mistrust,” says Ayranci.

A mistrust that was personified by the likes of assassinated far right leader Pym Fortuyn, and his successor Geert Wilders today, who has made a point of targeting Muslim or foreign residents in the Netherlands.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ağustos 2014, 11:55