Same questions, different people

By Hanna Polischuk

Travelling from one Turkish city to another, we discovered that not all the young people see Europe and its current issues in the same way. However, there is a strong wish to become a part of Europen from the youth perspective. Below you will see the current problems the country is experiencing from the point of view of Turkish youth.

DSC_0811Do you think there are borders in Europe?

Yes and no. There are borders in Europe as we see in the maps; but no, because each young person can go abroad and feel as a local there. There are no borders in Europe. If we talk about social and national borders, each nation, each country and each tradition is different; it makes kind of a distinction from people to people. (Ayşegül Gökdağ, 21, Turkish, student)

Yes, of course, because to go to Europe, I need to take 19 different documents, and I need to pay 100 EUR for the visa fee. Every time I want to go to Schengen area, I need to pay. It is like that for all Turkish unless they don’t have a special passport; only the high government officers’ children can get this passport, it is really little amount of people. (Yasir, 27, Turkish,  research assistant)

Do you feel yourself European? Do you think about Turkey as a part of Europe?

I think Turkey is not totally European. We should develop ourselves more, get used to European rules and its lifestyle. I feel myself European, I have been in Europe for so many times and this has changed my opinions: I can think like a European citizen. (Tuğçe Demir, 22, Turkish, student)

I don’t think so. Our country is divided into the West side and the East side. A little bit of West side is a part of Europe but the East side is not exactly, because our culture is very different from the European cultures. It is a problem, I think, but our education, healthcare and economic systems seem like the European ones. (Mehmet Eker, 22, Turkish, student)

In the European Union there are lots of countries and parties that don’t want Turkey in the EU, as there are lots of countries and parties that want Turkey in the EU. Inside Turkey it is the same thing: some people want to enter the European Union as soon as possible, and some people prefer to stay out of it. Between 2003 and 2006 our current government came a long way towards EU membership, but then, the people that were against the membership gained the upper hand both in Turkey and the EU. What is worse, our prime minister used the EU-reforms to gain control over the government, the judiciary, the army, and the media. Now that our prime minister has made himself our president, and cracked down on virtually everybody, I think the EU membership is further than ever. (Evrim Emiroglu, 22, Turkish, Student)

DSC_0007 (1)Do you think there is a refugee crisis in Europe? What is the refugee situation in Turkey? Do you feel safe in your country?

Refugee crisis is a very important question right now. Refugees are escaping from war in their country, and that’s very understandable. Turkey opens its doors for them but there are so many that we cannot maintain home, food, jobs and everything else they need for them. Europe should help us but it just sent all refugees here, maybe they paid a little money for that but it’s not enough. When Europe sent them to us, it wasn’t a solution. It made the problem even bigger for us. Nowadays, there are 800.000 refugees in Europe but more than 1,5 millions in Turkey. Europe should maintain homes, work, foods etc. for them; of course, Turkey can help with that, and it will be a better solution. I hope this war will finish one day and it will be the real solution. We, the people, are living our lives still in our cities like Paris or Belgium. Life is going on, terrorism is everywhere, not just in Turkey; there is no chaos and war here.

The crisis still continues for both the EU and Turkey. The EU doesn’t have a real solution and it is trying temporary ones. Refugees’ situation is better than a for lots of Turkish people. They have more rights than us. For example, we must pass lots of exams to join the university but they don’t need to pass any exams. They don’t need to work anywhere because our government takes lots of money from us and gives it to refugees. You can be a worker or not, maybe you are student but you have to give money every month for this problem and it is not because of the fear. (Ongun Batuhan Altan, 29, Turkish, Founder and Owner of Fotodizayn)

DSC_0653 (1)There are more than 3 million refugees in my country. Everyone is aware of the situation. There is a war in their country, people are dying. I think that European countries should have their doors open to more refugees. To be honest, nowhere is safe anymore. Terror is not just in Turkey or the Middle East. Terror is in Paris, Brussels, Beirut,… Terror is everywhere! (Toygar Öter ,23, Turkish, student)

According to the latest news, there will be an agreement between Turkey and the EU. People wonder whether Turkey will accept all refugees back or not. If the current government accomplishes the deal, visas between them will be abolished (except some countries like UK). Especially during the Syrian civil war lots of people had to abandon their home, and they have no chance to go to Iraq due to some conflicts between those countries. Some of them had to move to Turkey and others had to go to Jordan. Like the other countries, Turkey has plenty of refugee camps to stay. Of course we are people and we have dreams not only personal but also for the next generations. If we think from this perspective, refugees have the right to find a way to live in welfare. I feel myself very comfortable and safe, like other European citizens. Sometimes we encounter too bad situations to put up with, but all around the world people can come across this kind of bad events. (Beril Akan,20,Turkish, student)

I feel safe; refugees are desperate people: there is a civil war in Syria. They only want a place to live and work, a home. But most European countries don’t accept them in their own country, and it is very sad. We have more than 2.5 mln refugees right now, but European countries just want to give money and get rid of them. That’s the situation, unfortunately. (Ozan Çaglayan, 22, Turkish, student)

It depends on where you travel or where you are living. For example, in Istanbul and Izmir I feel safe but when I travel to Eastern Turkey, it is totally not safe. It is not about refugees. Yes, they cause some economical problems, but not problems about security.  (Batuhan Çarıkçı, 22, Turkish, student)

DSC_0576Accession negotiations of Turkey (about joining the EU) started in 2005. Which do you think are the reasons for so long process?

According to my research and because of the fact that I study economics, I know that the growth rate of Turkey is higher than the average of Europe. On the other hand, when we look at the budget deficit, the external debt and unemployment rates are much lower according to Europe. Therefore, the European Union thinks Turkey is not ready to be a part of it. Most EU members have some kind of anxiety. Also in Turkey there is confusion about the taxation system, the environment and human rights. These are really complicated things, and in my opinon, the  European Union is worried about the possibility for Turkey to become a more developed country if it joins the EU; on the other hand, Turkey doesn’t try to grow and develop itself, there is still a long process. (Tugce Fetullahoglu, 21, Turkish, student)

There are many reasons. I can think of the biggest ones: unstable behavior of the government in Turkey, geographical location, terrorist attacks in the East, religion and the prejudices against Turkey. (Anıl Öztuvan, 20 , Turkish , Student)

It is really hard to say. At that time Turkey was never part of Europe. We are a little bit outside it. Our culture is different, our religion is different. And to mix both of them, Europe and Turkey, takes so long. Both sides have different opinions. Maybe because of that? (Jülide Acıkara, 22, Turkish, Student)

As you can see, Turkish youth understands well the problems their country is facing. However, all these people are hoping for the positive changes including the refugee situation in Europe in general. We should open our eyes and listen to what this young people tell us, because they have a reason. When we asked them what do they wish for Europe, in most of the cases we heard “peace”, “understanding”, “hope for refugees” and “no borders”. Let’s make these wishes true together!DSC_0478


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