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50 years since Germany first invited Turkish workers

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pampango Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-31-11 11:01 AM
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50 years since Germany first invited Turkish workers
Sunday marked 50 years since Turkey and Germany first formed an agreement to bring in Turkish workers a step that neither country, it seems, realized would usher in profound social change.

Before 1961, Germany turned to other European countries Italy, Spain, Portugal for workers. The arrangement with Turkey lasted until a German economic downturn in 1973. Today, about 2.5 million of Germanys 82.2 million inhabitants are of Turkish background; some have been in Germany for three generations. Neighborhoods in some German cities, like Kreuzberg in Berlin, are palpably Turkish, and debate rages about integration, and whether the German government should drop its opposition to Turkey joining the European Union.

That was one reason Germany did little to integrate the workers. Most guest workers stayed in housing set up specifically for them. We lived with other men from Turkey, Italy, Spain or Portugal, Mr. Zaimoglu said, smiling. It was great because I mixed with people from other cultures, but none of them could speak German and that was a problem.

Cem zdemir, now the co-chairman of the German Green Party and the son of Turkish guest workers who arrived in Germany in the early 1960s, said many politicians today forget history. I know of people who started to ask for German language courses, but the answer they got was: People speak enough German to understand orders, he said in an interview. Its unfair to blame the generation of my parents if their German is not as good as it should be.

Mr. zdemir said it was important to acknowledge that Germany for years missed the chance of integrating the guest workers. Neither Turkey as the sending country nor Germany as receiving country did enough, for a long time, to take care of these people, he said.
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