Friedrich Naumann Foundation gathered the representatives of local authorities and the civil society organizations from Turkey with their counterparts from the municipalities, civil society organizations, government agencies and business circles in Berlin to discuss the integration experience of Germany on 18-25 February 2017. Sultanbeyli and Gaziantep Municipalities, Marmara Municipalities Union, Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD) , Research Center on Asylum and Migration (IGAMDER), Human Resource Development Foundation (IKGV), Kırkayak Kültür and Ankara Policy Center were represented in the visiting program.
The one-week program aimed at the exchange of experiences from both countries and focused on the topics having a great importance for the integration process such as education, access to labor markets and social adaption.
The program started with an introduction lecture on the main principles of German integration policy, the legal framework in Germany regarding the migration and asylum, and the migration history of Germany. The participants had the chance to understand the mechanisms of German system before the visits start.
The program started with a session with Markus Löning, Former Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy. The EU-Turkey relations in the framework of refugee crises and Germany-Turkey relations were the main topics addressed in the meeting. The group also met another liberal politician Paul Fresdorf, Member of the FDP Group in the House of Representatives of Berlin during their program. He emphasized the importance of the cooperation on integration, added value and the global effect of the migration.
The participants later on paid a visit to Berlin Neukölln City Hall and discussed the current situation of the migrants and the projects aiming to enhance the social adaption of migrants with Arnold Mengelkoch, Migration Officer of Neukölln Municipality. He underlined the importance of creating bridges between the locals and the migrants and gave particular examples from their “best experience projects” as “City Mothers”. The group also later visited Kreuzberg Center of “City Mothers” as an outstanding project of Berlin City. Another meeting was held in the “Berlin Welcoming Center” and the representative of the center defined the phases of integration as the participation of all people in social, cultural and professional life and gave information about their work in the center.
As part of the visiting program, Turkish participants had also opportunity to meet different civil society institutions such as “Xenion” working on psychosocial support for the refugees, “Fairchance” realizing trainings to improve the German language abilities of children and “Moabit hilft” providing especially instant humanitarian aid. Not only the success stories but also the challenges, problems and opportunities of immigration were discussed in detail.
Another important part of the visits was the business related institutions helping migrants to enter to the labor market. The representatives from Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce presented their “Netzwerk” consisting of hundreds of private companies cooperating for the job placement of the refugees. The group also visited to Berlin Office of the Federal Employment Agency of Germany to discuss the complex process of refugees to enter the labor market in German system.
The delegation also visited the premises of several Turkish civil society institutions such as Turkish-German Business Union and Turkish Union in Berlin-Brandenburg and Turkish-German Center to listen the other side of integration experience in Germany.
The experts from the delegation participated also the open conference organized by Friedrich Naumann Foundation Potsdam Office and they briefed the situation in Turkey and gave examples from their projects.
At the end of the visiting program consisting of fruitful visits and meetings, participants had the chance to deepen knowledge on the political, legal and administrative basis of the German refugee and integration policy. They became thoroughly familiar with the discussion on the integration of immigrants into German society. They had opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with their counterparts and discuss in general the tensions and distortions in German society in the frame of the conflict of "welcome culture" versus general rejection/xenophobia against immigration.