Mar 27 2018

Geopolitical tensions risk spilling into Turkish diaspora - scholar

The Turkish government’s growing hostility towards Western countries and its increased interest in cultivating a closer relationship with its diasporas abroad have led to tensions in Europe, scholar Ayça Arkılıç wrote in the Washington Post.

“As my research shows, diaspora populations with stronger grievances against host states are more likely to be wooed by homelands’ outreach efforts. European host countries know that Turkish officials’ embracive approach toward their expatriates resonate well with members of the Turkish diasporic community because of Turks’ feelings of isolation and marginalisation in their host countries,” she said.

“European host countries are concerned that Turkey has been manipulating its émigré population in Europe to advance its domestic and foreign policy interests, such as the consolidation of the incumbent AKP’s political presence by canvassing expatriate votes.”

The effects are heightened, Arkılıç said, by the sheer size of the Turkish expatriate community, which is the largest Muslim group in western Europe at 5.5 million people.

Moreover, studies say that in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, Turks have been poorly integrated and feel excluded.

“It is clear that Turkey’s spiralling tension with European states will have immediate negative consequences for Turkey’s EU membership prospects,” she said. “What is yet to be determined is how the widening rift between Turkey and Europe will affect the Turkish diaspora’s status as a group that has become increasingly torn between their home and host states.”