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February 2000, Volume 7, Number 2

Turkey, Bulgaria

In 1997, about 3.3 million, the equivalent of five percent of the Turkish population lived in Western Europe, including 2.2 million in Germany; 285,000 in the Netherlands; and 275,000 in France. In recent years, about 75,000 Turks entered Germany to stay more than three months and 45,000 left, a net immigration of 30,000 a year.

Most Turks now in Europe arrived after labor recruitment was halted in 1973-74—the three most common modes of entry over the past 25 years were: (1) family formation—settled Turks brought spouses from Turkey and had children of Turkish nationality in Europe; (2) applying for asylum (15,000 to 25,000 a year); and (3) illegal entry or stay.

Turkey's population doubled between 1965 and 1997, from 31 to 62 million. About 65 percent of Turks live in cities, and almost 30 percent live in the five largest cities—Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana and Bursa. About 11 percent of Turks live in Istanbul, and its population of about seven million increases by 400,000 a year. The overall fertility rate is 2.7, and the population is growing by about 1.5 percent a year.

Turkey pursued an import substitution strategy until 1980 that led to persistent trade deficits, and explicitly included the export of labor in its first five-year plan, which covered the years 1963-67—migrant remittances were expected to help cover persistent trade deficits. In 1980, economic policy changed—privatization and export-led growth became the goals. However, the government ran persistent deficits, leading to the highest inflation rate among OECD countries—50 to 100 percent in the 1990s.

Turkey's official unemployment rate is lower than that of most EU countries—six to seven percent in the 1990s—but many unemployed persons do not register. The unemployed in Turkey are disproportionately young—80 percent of the unemployed in the late 1990s were under 35, and over half were under 24 and seeking their first job. The Turkish labor force of 21.6 million (1997) is increasing by 400,000 to 600,000 a year; about 44 percent of Turkish workers are employed in agriculture.

Turkey signed an Association Agreement with the EU on September 12, 1963, and an additional protocol, 2760/72, on November 23, 1970 that anticipated Turkish membership in the EU and free movement for Turks to and within the EU. Article 36 of the Association Agreement says that the "freedom of movement for workers...shall be secured by progressive stages," with the target date for free movement set for December 1, 1986. In pushing for EU entry by 2020 or later, Turkey has indicated an agreement to delay freedom of movement beyond the seven- to 10-year waits that applied to Italy and Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Turkey exported 50,000 to 60,000 workers a year in the early 1990s, most to Saudi Arabia and Russia. By 1997, only 33,000 Turkish workers were sent abroad, including half to Russia.

Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government announced that all border wire fencing will be torn down by April 1, 2000. There is no wire fencing along the country's western border, and the wire fencing along the southern border is being cleared away. About 2,000 soldiers will be replaced in 2000 with professional border patrol agents. The Bulgarian government says that these changes mean that Bulgaria will meet Schengen border requirements.

In 1999, Bulgaria apprehended 27,733 unauthorized foreigners at its borders, up from 18,239 in 1998; there were 14.4 million legal entries.

In January 2000, the EU proposed that Bulgaria and Romania be put on a list of 48 states exempt from EU visa requirements because they have addressed EU security concerns ahead of the coming membership negotiations. The European Commission proposal must be approved by the 15 EU governments and by the European Parliament.


Koray, Sedef. 1999. Study on Migrations: the Case of Turkey. March. http://www.uni-essen.de/zft