Mesut Özil’s case stirs debate on German nationality laws | Daily Sabah

Of interest (while or course Turkey erases identities of its Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian and Greek minorities):

In the mid-1900s, West Germany experienced the “Wirtschaftswunder” – which means “economic miracle” in German – but after the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961, West Germany’s labor crisis was exacerbated due to the fact that the flow of immigrants from East Germany was restricted. As a result of the shortage of workers, the West German government felt the need to sign a labor recruitment agreement with Türkiye on Oct. 30,1961, paving the way for Turkish people’s immigration to the country.

Since then, German legislators have time and time again failed to fully embrace the nation’s multiculturalism, and Germans of Turkish descent were not provided with a feasible path to citizenship. In addition, religious bigotry was also practiced against ethnic Turks who are overwhelmingly Muslims.

One of the most prominent signs for the fact that xenophobia peaked in the country was former Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) infamously telling former British Prime Minister, the “iron lady” Margaret Thatcher that he didn’t have a problem with European immigrants but that “Turks belong to a very distinct culture.” He also had the audacity to supply monetary inducements for them to return to Türkiye.

Only in the 1990s did Germany pave a path to citizenship for non-ethnic Germans who lived in the nation for over 15 years. And only at the dawn of the 21stt century, did the then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the lobbying by the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Greens to lower this lengthy residency criteria to eight years for all and introduce a “jus soli” basis – or birthright citizenship – to be also valid alongside its current “jus sanguinis,” which is the ethnicity-based citizenship framework. This is glaringly different from the United States’ practice of automatically granting people born on American territory ID cards and passports. To qualify for citizenship, a child must have one parent who has lived legally in Germany for a minimum of eight years. “Until the end of the 1990s, you were a German or a foreigner. There was nothing in between,” Ferda Ataman, who is currently Germany’s anti-discrimination commissioner, previously said about the issue.

Still, Germany’s immigration policy evolved from refusal to reluctance. The SPD had to make compromises to get the new citizenship law past conservatives in the CDU and Free Democratic Party (FDP) which argued that permitting naturalized or Germans that got their citizenship through the “jus soli” basis to maintain their previous citizenship was an “act of provocation” that would “sow the seeds of division.”

Such opposition was laced with racism and right-wing German politicians complained such relaxation would lead to the “formation of ghettos.” The CDU opposed dual nationality and forced the SPD and Greens into incorporating a clause that kids who became German citizens under the jus soli framework and had a second nationality would have to choose one citizenship upon assuming legal adulthood. Ironically, this policy did not apply to the ethnic Germans who are dual citizens of both Germany and another country.

Nevertheless, a wholesale ban on dual citizenship, which, in theory, applied to all non-ethnic Germans, was particularly aimed at Turkish Germans and other Muslim minority immigrants. An exception was also granted to dual nationals of other European Union states and Switzerland – which sits right at the heart of the EU’s geography but rejects to join the bloc over its principle to stay neutral in global politics.

Mesut Özil case

I have researched and focused on such legal details to highlight their inherent inconsistencies and how they became part of Turkish-German football star Mesut Özil’s narrative. The footballer was born to a third-generation Turkish-German family in 1988 and only assumed German citizenship when he turned 17. He had to renege on his Turkish passport soon after. Though Özil was passionate to play for Germany back then, the compulsory decision seems to have left a deep emotional wound in his psyche.

Such realities also undermine Germany’s rhetoric on integration. Formerly a paragon of productive integration, Özil swiftly learned that this status would only be safeguarded by renouncing his Turkish roots. In his 2018 resignation, Özil blamed the former German Football Association (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel, a former CDU member of parliament, for having “voted against legislation for dual nationalities” during his tenure.

The government already scrapped the dual citizenship provision for most naturalized and “jus soli” Germans who grew up in Germany in 2014 due to the lobbying by the SPD, and Germany is painstakingly adjusting to its multicultural composition, albeit hesitantly. This evolution was accelerated by the arrival of refugees in 2015 under the then-Chancellor Angela Merkel and by Özil’s resignation.

Özil’s withdrawal from the German national team was such a jolt to the country’s cohesion that it forced many ethnic Germans to deal with the bitter reality that their country was not as accommodating as they had perceived. Germany officially announced plans to speed up its naturalization process. Palestinian German politician Sawsan Chebli labeled the reality an “indictment of our country” and wondered if “we will ever belong? My doubts are growing daily.”

Ordinary Germans of color kicked off a huge social media campaign to share their lived experiences of racism under the hashtag “#MeTwo” – which essentially altered Germany’s debate with regard to racial issues, ethnicity and identity. And even Grindel apologized for his actions, vowing substantive reform within the DFB, lamenting that he “needed to stand by Mesut Özil.”

In 2022, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the SPD favored Reem Alabali-Radovan to be Germany’s first-ever federal anti-racism officer. And this past week, Scholz’s government confirmed that the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community headed by Nancy Faeser was promulgating new nationality reform. Faeser plans to lower the citizenship application residency requirement from eight to five years, a reduction that would also extend to jus soli provisions. She also plans to scrap all restrictions on dual citizenship.

Zero-sum game

If properly implemented, these are welcome first steps as they would offer representation and voting rights to over 9 million non-citizen residents who productively contribute to Germany’s economy and society. The conservatives’ obsession with dual citizenship was always illogical. “Belonging and identity are not a zero-sum game,” Scholz told the German parliament during a debate this week.

Expect opposition from the FDP and CDU, and outright rejection from Germany’s controversial far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has gained alarming political clout over the past decade. The AfD is often called “Neo-Nazi” because of apparent racism and xenophobia among its members, who embrace more controversial and populist stances against Scholz and Faeser’s more reasonable recommendations. CDU leader Friedrich Merz has warned of immigrants skirting integration and abusing the welfare state properties of Germany.

Scholz may not need the green light from the AfD and CDU to pass his recommendations, however, the FDP is a part of the current coalition and is likely to undermine the commendable reforms. It’s remarkable how out of touch these three parties’ comments are with Germany’s swiftly evolving cultural, social, sporting and economic journey over 20 years. Such inconsistencies are even more pronounced with Mesut Özil back in the news.

At FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the departure of Germany’s outstanding football legend Özil attests how his withdrawal represents a deep scar for a country that is deeply politically divided and still racially segregated, both on and off the football pitch. Scholz’s recommended new citizenship law will never undo the racist abuse faced by Mesut Özil, suffered by Ilkay Günoğan, experienced by Antonio Rüdiger, Son Hueng-Min and hundreds of other Germans of color and religious minorities, but it can mitigate Özil’s main complaint by reassessing more holistically what it means to “be German” in a post-modern, multiethnic multicultural society. It can also be a first step toward proving to a skeptical global public that Özil’s disastrous departure has become one of the leading causes for inclusive reform in a country where segregation and racism still exist. This is Germany’s moment of reckoning; with itself, its past and also its future.

Source: Mesut Özil’s case stirs debate on German nationality laws | Daily Sabah

Turkish Bar Associations Union takes citizenship through investment to top court

Pushback on citizenship-by-investment program given negative impacts:

The Turkish Union of Bar Associations (TBB) has applied to the country’s top court for the reversal of a regulation allowing foreigners to gain Turkish citizenship through investment, Diken news site reported on Monday.

“The current regulation, which came into effect in 2013, is both in violation of the Constitution and lacking any legal foundation,” it cited the TBB as saying in the application submitted to the Council of State.

Turkey’s “Citizenship by Investment Programme,” which allows citizenship through the sale of housing to foreigners, came into effect almost a decade ago. The programme initially allowed foreigners who owned property in Turkey equivalent to $1 million to become citizens. This amount was reduced to 250,000 in 2018, sparking a rapid hike in foreigners seeking to own a home in the country.

The figure was increased to $400,000 on Monday, according to a decree published in the Official Gazette signed off by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The latest change was prompted by a spike in the price of new and existing homes of almost 100 percent annually, which has made it effectively impossible for citizens to purchase homes. Builders in the country are charging more for new homes after the raw material costs jumped, partly due to a slump in the value of the lira, which lost 44 percent of its value against the dollar in 2021 and around 25 percent this year.

“The Turkish Republic’s constitution urges that the conditions for attaining citizenship should be regulated through the law,” the TBB said. “There is no regulation in the (related) law, which states that …. Turkish citizenship can be obtained through investment made in foreign currency.”

The citizenship programme also provides a Turkish passport to foreigners who invest  $500,000 in government bonds, companies, investment funds or a local bank account.

Erdoğan’s government has come under criticism for offering investment incentives to foreign nationals as citizens continue to feel the squeeze of soaring inflation on their wallets.

Last month, Erdoğan said his government would help alleviate the cost of higher property prices by offering zero interest rate mortgages to low income families. He also said the government would provide financing for unfinished housing projects provided the developers froze prices for a year.

Source: Turkish Bar Associations Union takes citizenship through investment to top court

New research finds that preference for remaining is key to successful immigration: Turkish immigration in Germany study

Of interest:

New research finds that policies granting permanent residency to immigrants conditional on acquiring host country skills—like language—are most likely to generate higher fiscal contributions to the host country through income taxes. In fact, immigrants with a preference for remaining in the host country develop social contacts and other specific skills that allow them to find better paid jobs and stay for a longer time.

As immigration worldwide increases, host countries are faced with crucial policy decisions aimed at maximizing immigrants’ economic contributions. Designing the right policies requires understanding exactly how immigrants make their decision to migrate and return to their country of origin. Bocconi University, Milan, professors Jérôme Adda and Joseph-Simon Goerlach, with co-author Christian Dustmann (University College London), in a forthcoming article in The Review of Economic Studies, develop and estimate a that provides key insights into the decision-making process of immigrants. They find that immigrants’ expectations for the length of their stay and their location preferences can explain their decisions to invest in career improving skills, their acceptance of lower-paying jobs compared to natives, and how they respond to immigration policies on the duration and possibility of permanent residence.

While previous research focused only on productivity differences between immigrants to explain their career profiles, the authors argue that location preferences could be crucial in determining how much immigrants invest in acquiring skills that consequently impact their career profiles. For instance, an who prefers the host country and intends to stay permanently may invest more in learning the local language, familiarizing themselves with the local labor market, and developing social contacts and other host country-specific skills. Alternatively, a migrant with a location for their original country may not invest in these skills as they are likely undervalued back there. The authors model this preference and estimate the impact of location preferences and planned migration duration using data from surveys of Turkish immigrants in Germany over three decades, starting from 1961.

Indeed they find that immigrants who remain are higher-skilled due to their conscious investment in host-country skills. Their model is also able to explain why immigrants may be more willing to accept low-paid jobs compared to natives. They argue that immigrants from countries that have a lower price level and who want to return home would face higher effective wages since their wage allows them to consume more at home over their lifetime. Knowing this may encourage temporary migrants to accept lower-paid jobs.

The authors also use their model to compare three different types of prevalent today that grant permanent residency after 5 years either conditional on:

  1. An earning threshold (like the UK);
  2. Acquiring host-specific skills such as language (like in some countries of the EU);
  3. Granted randomly with 30% probability.

The authors find that scheme 1 selects for high productivity migrants and scheme 2 for those with a high preference for the host country.

Assuming a population of 25-year-olds migrating to Germany in 1970 as an example to estimate on, the earning threshold rule would generate an annual per capita increase in tax payments by €782 compared to if the policy wasn’t there. The host-specific skills rule would generate an average annual tax gain of €789 and fewer tax losses due to fewer individuals leaving the host country. The random lottery instead leads to a decrease in average annual taxes by €633 since the expected returns to investing in host country skills are reduced due to the scheme’s reliance on random chance. Furthermore, schemes 1 and 3, due to the barriers they pose to seeking permanent residency, reduce total immigration by about 26% whereas the host-specific skills rule does so by around 3%.

Thus, the authors show how these schemes could have differential impacts when one accounts for not only immigrants’ productivities but also their location preference / expected duration of stay. As the recent Ukrainian refugee crisis shows, such considerations are crucial for both the host countries’ goals as well as the lives and decisions of the arriving immigrants and their integration and acceptance in societies.

Source: New research finds that preference for remaining is key to successful immigration

Turkey Turns Down Citizenship for Some Uyghurs – Voice of America

Of note:

Turkish authorities have rejected the citizenship applications of some Uyghur refugees, telling them they were suspected risks to Turkey’s “national security” or “social order,” some of the Uyghurs told VOA.

“Phone communication” was the reason Turkey rejected one Uyghur family for citizenship last year. While the family doesn’t know what that means, rights organizations say the term could mean that the person applying for citizenship has communicated with someone connected to an extremist organization in another country, such as Syria.

“My whole family’s application was rejected, including my wife and children,” the Uyghur refugee told VOA. He requested anonymity out of fear of reprisal in Turkey.

Erkin Ekrem, director of the Ankara-based Uyghur Research Institute, said Turkish Deputy Minister of the Interior Ismail Catakli told him and other Uyghur representatives last year that some foreign nationals in Turkey, including Uyghurs from China, were considered risks to national security.

“Catakli told us that it’s not only some Uyghurs. There are other foreign nationals as well,” Ekrem told VOA. “Catakli also said that it takes time to do background checks one by one.”

“He told us that people should wait patiently about their cases,” Ekrem said. ” ‘After we did a thorough background check, we will determine who is eligible and who is not.’ That’s what Catakli told us.”

The Turkish Embassy in Washington did not respond to multiple requests from VOA for comment on this story.

Uyghur foreign fighters have been known to operate throughout Central Asia and the Middle East, although the exact number has been difficult to pin down. In Syria alone, Uyghurs fighting for militant groups range in number from the hundreds to the thousands. Uyghurs have also carried out terror attacks in China in the past 20 years, according to a 2017 report from the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism.

Uyghurs in China

About 8,000 Uyghurs did become Turkish citizens last year, according to a rights group that wished not to be named for fear of reprisal.

Most of them were from China. In recent years, an estimated 50,000 Uyghurs fled to Turkey from western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where rights groups say the Chinese government is committing human rights abuses on local Turkic populations such as Uyghurs and Kazakhs.

International rights organizations and some Western countries including the U.S. say China has arbitrarily detained more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Turkic ethnic groups in internment camps in Xinjiang since early 2017.

Beijing says the facilities are not internment camps but “vocational training centers” where people learn skills and the Chinese language. Beijing has also said it has taken measures to counter “the three evil forces in Xinjiang,” namely “ethnic separatism, religious extremism and violent terrorism.”

Alimjan Turdi, a Uyghur, left Xinjiang for Turkey in 2013 with his wife and three daughters.

“I came to Turkey escaping China’s assimilationist policies in pursuit of a better education for my children,” Turdi told VOA from the Netherlands.

He became a rights activist in 2017, after the Chinese government had arrested some of his relatives and former colleagues and had detained them in Xinjiang internment camps, Turdi said.

“Chinese police contacted me on social media and asked me to work for them,” Turdi told VOA. “They said that if I want to help my relatives [and] colleagues and have a profiting business, I should work for them.”

Turdi refused the request and, along with other Uyghurs, became a vocal activist in Turkey, demanding the release of family members from China’s internment camps in Xinjiang.

In October, he stopped his activism in Turkey and decided to leave the country after the Turkish government had rejected his application for citizenship.

“I got excited and thought that my application for citizenship was accepted, after they [Turkish authorities] asked me to bring two passport-size pictures and sign relevant papers,” Turdi said.

When he went to the immigration office in Istanbul, he was told his application for citizenship had been rejected.

“I asked for an explanation. They said they don’t know the reason,” Turdi said. “I thought that my activism wouldn’t be harmful to Turkey.”

In December, Turdi left Turkey for the Netherlands, where he is seeking political asylum.

Turkey’s Uyghur position

The Turkish people have been sympathetic to Uyghurs, observers say.

Uyghurs and Turkish people are ethnically related and have a lot in common, both culturally and linguistically, explained Ilyas Dogan, a Turkish human rights lawyer based in Ankara who is handling 18 Uyghur cases, including Turdi’s.

“Uyghurs are treated badly in China, and even genocide is carried out against them,” Dogan said. “And almost everyone in Turkish society reacts to the injustice [the] Uyghurs have suffered.”

When a 2009 Uyghur-led protest in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi resulted in almost 200 dead, then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs as genocide.

Western countries have also accused China of genocide in its treatment of Uyghurs, which China says is the “lie of the century.”

In recent years, however, Turkey has also developed closer ties with Beijing, relying heavily on China’s financial support, Dogan said.

The trade volume between Turkey and China increased from $1.1 billion in 2001 to $23.6 billion in 2018, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. In that same span of time, Turkey’s gross domestic productgrew from $202 billion to $778 billion.

China’s growing influence on the Turkish economy has become the greatest obstacle to Turkey’s support of Uyghurs, Dogan said.

“China wants the Uyghurs who came to Turkey in recent years to leave Turkey,” Dogan said, “because there’s such a strong support for Uyghurs from Turkish society.”

According to Dogan, one reason given for the citizenship rejections is “risk to Turkey’s national security in the future.”

Source: Turkey Turns Down Citizenship for Some Uyghurs – Voice of America

Turkey rejected Uyghur citizenship applications over “national security” risks


The Turkish government has rejected the citizenship applications of some Uyghurs who have been outspoken about the detention of their families in China, citing risks they pose to “national security” and “public order,” according to interviews and documents reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: Turkey has been an important refuge for Uyghurs, who have faced repressive policies in China for years. But Ankara’s growing economic and security ties with Beijing have led to fears among some Uyghurs that they’re no longer safe in Turkey.

  • The denial of citizenship for some Uyghurs in Turkey fits a broader pattern of China’s growing ability to extend repression beyond its own borders, Elise Anderson, a senior program officer at the D.C.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Axios.
  • Chinese government authorities are “surveilling, tracking and hunting down Uyghurs, and in some cases, have succeeded in sending them backto the People’s Republic of China,” Anderson said.

Details: Alimcan Turdi, a Uyghur who moved to Turkey in 2013 for education opportunities for his children, told Axios he has numerous relatives in Xinjiang who were detained in mass internment camps in 2017 and he has not heard from them since.

  • He began organizing protests in Turkey and speaking out against the Chinese government on social media in 2019. In October 2021, Turdi’s application for citizenship in the country he had called home for more than seven years was rejected.
  • Turdi says he received no explanation other than a document that cited “obstacle to national security” and “public order” — allegations that he called “very upsetting,” given the loyalty he said he feels for Turkey. Turdi is now in the Netherlands, though his family remains in Turkey.

Axios spoke to four other Uyghurs who described similar experiences and provided documentation.

  • Amine Vahid, a Uyghur woman who has lived in Turkey since 2015, said both her and her 17-year-old son’s applications were rejected in October 2021 on “national security” and “public order” grounds.
  • Vahid said she has participated in protests in Turkey because she has relatives in the camps, but claims her son has never been involved in activism and is being unfairly punished.
  • One Uyghur woman who wished to stay anonymous told Axios she has never participated in protests or anti-China social media activity, but that applications for her, her husband and three children were all rejected for the same reasons.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and embassy in D.C. did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The big picture: Many Uyghurs are worried about their ability to remain safely in Turkey, which is home to one of the largest Uyghur diasporas in the world, with estimates between 30,000 and 50,000 people.

  • The Chinese government has asked Ankara to extradite some Uyghurs back to China; many Uyghurs believe at least one Uyghur family in Turkey has been deported. Egypt, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have deported numerous Uyghurs at China’s request.
  • The inability to obtain citizenship and the loss of residency status can plunge Uyghurs into statelessness and make it difficult for them to keep jobs and go to school in Turkey.

Background: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was once critical of China’s repression of Uyghurs, including suggesting in 2009, years before the construction of the camps, that ethnic violence in Xinjiang amounted to “genocide.” Uyghurs and Turkish people share linguistic, ethnic and religious ties.

  • But as Erdogan has turned away from the West in recent years and strengthened economic links to China, Ankara’s criticism has grown muted.
  • On a visit to Beijing in 2019, Erdogan warned that to “exploit” the Uyghur issue would damage Turkey-China relations and that he believed it was possible to “find a solution to this issue that takes into consideration the sensitivities on both sides.”

The bottom line: “Turkish people know about Uyghurs and care about Uyghurs,” Anderson said. “But at other times, Turkish authorities make moves that leave Uyghurs in fear.”

Source: Turkey rejected Uyghur citizenship applications over “national security” risks

The Chinese Exploitation Of Turkish Citizenship To More Easily Obtain US/EU Residency Permits — Greek

Would be nice to have more data rather than just examples of advertising by immigration consultants. That being said, not surprising that alternate and backdoor pathways emerge:

In order to circumvent strict norms put in place by the United States, rich Chinese people are on the lookout for easier alternatives to acquire the US citizenship.

They have recently discovered that obtaining Turkish citizenship first would make it easier for them to acquire US citizenship.

Chinese websites and social media platforms are flooded with advertisements for obtaining Turkish citizenship.

These advertisements underline that the alternate way to obtain US Citizenship is by first obtaining Turkish citizenship which can be acquired through an investment of at least USD$250,000 in property.

The advertisements emphasise that it is possible to go to America and other western countries easily after obtaining Turkish citizenship.

The tagline of ads reads, “if you buy real estate, all your family members get their passports as gifts.”

As a result of China’s strained relations with the USA and many European countries in recent years, it has become difficult for Chinese citizens to obtain a residence permit in Western countries.

One Chinese real estate consultancy firms that deals with real estate sales from Turkey, emphasises in one of its advertisements that for Turkish citizenship, “Britain is the best springboard for settling in developed countries, such as the USA.”

The expressions used in the advertisements for Turkish citizenship published in China are as follows: “AFTER YOU BUY THIS, YOU CAN GO TO THE USA.”

The advertisements highlight the features of the Turkish passport: It can only be earned by buying a house for USD$250,000.

• It is a cheap and simple process, and it has two great advantages: It is the best springboard to go as an immigrant to developed countries such as the UK and the USA. After obtaining a Turkish passport, you can go to the USA as an immigrant with an E2 investor ID.

• E2 is a visa issued by the USA only to countries with mutual trade partnerships. After you get Turkish Citizenship, you can commute to and from the USA, you can live in the USA. Your spouse can work in the USA. Your children can study in American schools.

• Turkey is a country that has a trade partnership with the US. The E2 visa is the country’s most issued visa. It can take 500-600 people every year.

• If you get a Turkish passport, you can go to England with a business visa. The UK government allows Turkish citizens to engage in business. A 1-year commercial visa can be obtained on the first application. After five years, the right to stay in the UK indefinitely can be earned. After getting a business visa from the UK, your children can study in the UK. They can study for free in public schools.

• You can earn a Turkish passport with very simple transactions, just by buying a house. You don’t need to go yourself. If you buy real estate for 1.600 million yuan (USD$250,000), all your family members will be given passports. It does not ask for any documents. You can complete the transactions without leaving home.

It is recalled that a Turkish passport guarantees visa free travel to over 100 countries. You can get an E2 visa to the US with it.

Turkey has provision vide, in which a foreigner can obtain Turkish nationality on the basis of certain amount of investment in real estate, capital investment, by way of business generating employment for Turkish nationals, or by investing in Treasury bonds or any type of government loan instrument.

In 2018, with a legal regulation, the lower limit of real estate investment, which is one of the options for citizens of other countries to obtain Turkish citizenship, had been reduced from USD$1 million to USD$250,000.

However on January 06, 2022, the regulation on the ‘Implementation of the Turkish Citizenship Law’ was amended and the investment values were enhanced.

The Turkish government facilitated the regulation for foreigners to acquire Turkish citizenship in a bid to support the Turkish lira.

However, China is exploiting this provision of Turkey, whereby Chinese citizens are purchasing real estate in Turkey or making a fixed capital investment to obtain Turkish citizenship.

This is in order to bypass the difficulty its citizens face in obtaining the residence permit in western countries.

Source: The Chinese Exploitation Of Turkish Citizenship To More Easily Obtain US/EU Residency Permits — Greek

Turkey’s citizenship-for-homes sales hit roadblock

Local inhabitants rarely benefit from these schemes apart from developers and realtors:

Record sales of homes to foreigners in Turkey, driven by a sharply falling currency and the promise of citizenship, are starting to slow after a new government rule aimed at tackling inflated prices, property experts say.

Property sellers and real estate professionals told Reuters that before the rule change some cheaper homes were being marked up and sold to foreigners for at least $250,000 – the minimum price for Turkey to grant foreigners a passport.

Some sellers were working with selected appraisal companies to inflate prices and secure citizenship for buyers, they said, with the difference between the market value and the price paid in some cases later returned to buyers.

But under a regulation adopted last month, the land-registry authority now automatically assigns appraisers to properties, thwarting collaboration that could lead to abuse.

GIGDER, an industry body that promotes Turkish home makers abroad, said that since Sept. 20 when the regulation was adopted, prices of some homes sold to foreigners have dropped by 30-45%, prompting some prospective buyers to walk away.

“This difference between construction companies’ sales prices and new valuations has led to distrust among foreigners,” said the head of GIGDER, Omer Faruk Akbal.

“We have since seen sales offices emptying out and presale contracts getting cancelled,” he said.

A construction boom has helped drive economic growth through much of President Tayyip Erdogan’s nearly two decades in power and, under the citizenship scheme, cash from abroad helped offset Turkey’s usually heavy trade imbalance.

Some 7,000 foreigners received Turkish citizenships via home purchases between 2017 and 2020, the government said last year.

The General Directorate overseeing land registries said it adopted the regulation in September to address “certain observed irregularities in the appraisal reports”.

Foreign home sales – mainly to Iranians, Iraqis, Russians and Afghans – reached an all-time high of 6,630 last month, official data shows, as a sharp falls in the lira made Turkish property more attractive to foreign buyers.

Last year net foreign investment in real estate was $5.7 billion, central bank data shows.

GIGDER’s Akbal expects construction companies to sell a record 50,000 homes to foreigners by year-end, though the new regulation might reduce that.

The sales have contributed to a broader rise in living costs for Turks that has weighed on Erdogan’s opinion polls: housing-related inflation was more than 20% last month, reflecting soaring rents, valuations and mortgage rates.


Ankara adopted the citizenship-for-homes scheme in 2017. A year later it cut the minimum price to $250,000, from $1 million, to attract foreign buyers and help alleviate the currency the crisis.

One property industry representative who requested anonymity said that before the regulation, properties worth only $150,000 could be reported to the land registry authority with a $250,000 price tag in order to secure citizenship for the buyer.

After the sale, the construction company would transfer $100,000 back to the buyer, the person said.

Ibrahim Babacan, chairman of Babacan Holding which works mostly with foreign buyers, said the new regulation was likely to lead to the cancellation of six of his 10 recent sales to foreigners.

“The customer buys the property with the aim of citizenship but when the appraiser reports a lower valuation, he cancels the contract,” he said, adding appraisers and builders often use different measurements in valuations.

While Babacan says the new rules will cool sales in October, the lira depreciation will keep foreigners interested. “You can buy a property in Turkey at a fifth the price in Dubai,” he said.

Source: Turkey’s citizenship-for-homes sales hit roadblock

Syrians in Turkey in precarious situation as citizenship applications indefinitely suspended by authorities

Of note:

Nearly 10 years after the civil war began in Syria, refugees are still struggling with their precarious status in Turkey as most have not been able to acquire Turkish citizenship and their applications have been indefinitely suspended by the authorities, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.

Thousands of Syrian refugees who have been in Turkey for more than five years submitted their application documents to obtain citizenship and were interviewed by authorities. However, they have found that their citizenship process was suspended without reason.

“I applied for citizenship and then waited three years, after which they told me that my application had been suspended,” said Fatma Tata, a young Syrian woman. “I will graduate this year, but I won’t be able to work under these conditions.”

Musab Hawsa, 29, who fled to Turkey eight years ago and works as a practitioner at a medical school, said his citizenship application was also abruptly suspended after waiting three years.

“If they had told me earlier, I would have planned accordingly. I would like to get a residency [at the medical school] but was waiting to get my citizenship for that. I think I may need to leave Turkey,” he said.

In some cases, parents have become Turkish citizens while their children were not able to. This has become a problem, especially since most children were born in Turkey and do not have Syrian citizenship, either. “It has become a bureaucratic hassle to prove the children are ours each time the police ask for our documents,” said one Syrian mother whose children were stateless.

According to a report drafted by Solaris, an NGO that words to support vulnerable populations, the law stipulates that if the parents have Turkish citizenship then the children also should be given citizenship. “Giving children of Turkish citizens temporary protection, which is the case for refugees, is against the law,” said the report.

A Syrian parent who gave an interview for the report said their children were stateless. He said they could not plan anything for their future until their children obtained citizenship.

Another parent, Abdurrahman Abdulkerim, 33, said he felt unwanted in Turkey and planned on moving to Europe. He said his three children were stateless and he believed they would not be able to acquire citizenship at this point.

An estimated 3.6 million refugees have been granted temporary protection in Turkey. The majority of them live outside camps, in precarious and challenging circumstances.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had promised Syrian refugees Turkish citizenship in 2016. However, he did not explain how this would happen or the criteria for applying for citizenship. Dr. Murat Erdoğan, an immigration expert at the Turkish-German University, said granting citizenship to almost 3 million people at once was unheard of.

Source: Syrians in Turkey in precarious situation as citizenship applications indefinitely suspended by authorities

Carleton PhD student detained in Turkey, accused of inciting protests

An interesting and disturbing consular case that highlights a number of issues:
  • increasing repression in autocratic countries
  • calls for consular assistance are being applied to Permanent Residents, not just citizens (as in the case of Iran’s shooting down of the Ukrainian airline)
  • Canada will likely have more cases like this for those international students researching their country of origin histories and issues
  • and the intersection with LGBT identities.

In the ten years they’ve been together, Ömer Ongun has not gone a day without hearing the voice of his partner, Cihan Erdal.

It’s now been three days since they’ve spoken.

Their last conversation came on Friday, just moments before Erdal was detained in Istanbul’s Besiktas neighbourhood.

“It was 2 a.m. for us, 9 a.m. for Cihan in Istanbul. He called me and said ‘I love you. They are at my door. They’re going to take me away,'” Ongun said.

Erdal, a 32-year-old PhD candidate at Carleton University and a permanent resident of Canada, is now being held at a detention centre in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

He was among dozens of people named in warrants issued across Turkey on Friday. Ongun, also a permanent resident, said Erdal’s lawyer has not been allowed to see the specifics of his case file, but the allegations against all of the detainees relate to a letter written in 2014.

The letter called on the Turkish government to step in to help the Kurdish town of Kobani, in Syria, at the height of ISIS attacks.

Deadly protests

Thirty-seven people were killed in protests in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast that October as people filled the streets, angry the Turkish Army wasn’t moving in to protect Kobani and its people.

The Turkish government accuses the signatories of that letter of supporting the protests.

And the statement from Carleton:

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University condemns in the strongest possible terms the detention of Carleton Sociology doctoral candidate, Cihan Erdal, in Turkey today. The charges stem from events back in 2014, which the Turkish government are using to continue persecuting members of the leftist HDP political party, the third largest party in Turkey’s parliament. Cihan and 81 others, including academics, activists, and politicians, have been targeted because they are all signatories to a letter from six years ago calling for the Turkish government to step in to protect a Kurdish town from ISIS attacks, during a time when ISIS was quite active and many Kurds were being killed.

Cihan was an active member of the HDP in 2014 as their youth representative. However, he has not been involved in Turkish politics since he moved to Canada to do his doctoral studies at Carleton in January, 2017. He had only returned to Turkey to visit family and then to interview Turkish activists as part of his doctoral fieldwork. Cihan’s research is on youth-led social movements in Europe, including in Turkey, focused on the stories of young activists about their involvement in social movements. His work is in no way critical of the Turkish state. His research passed a formal proposal defense, and his research ethics proposal was approved before the COVID-19 pandemic began. He was beginning interviews online, while awaiting approval under the new pandemic ethics process to begin face to face interviews in Turkey, Athens, and Paris.

We ask you to vigorously demand the release of Cihan from detention and demand that the Canadian government consular offices support Cihan, who is a permanent resident of Canada.

More information on the arrests can be found here.


And the website and social media campaign:

Turkish students increasingly resisting religion, study suggests

Perhaps as a reaction against Erdogan’s efforts?

Twenty-two-year old Esra, from Mersin, is even more bored than usual this Ramadan. Universities are shut and Turkey has taken the unusual step of placing under-20s, as well as over-65s, under a curfew, because many Turkish families live in intergenerational households.

As a result, Esra can’t see any of her friends. And a few days into the Muslim month of fasting, like many young people, she is now feeling even more suffocated by the religious restrictions imposed by her pious parents.

“They normally don’t know how I dress when I’m not there but even in the house now wearing tight jeans bothers them and they’re commenting on it,” she said. “They think I am fasting but I’m not. I have water in my room.”

Despite more than a decade of efforts by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) to mould a generation of pious Turks, the country’s youth appears to be turning away from religion.

Source: Turkish students increasingly resisting religion, study suggests