8 December 2014
Turkey is turning from a transit country for migrants into a migrant-receiving country, according to Professor Ahmet İçduygu, the director of the Migration Research Center at Koç University in Istanbul.
“Transit migrants are increasingly turning into labor migrants,” İçduygu told the Hürriyet Daily News, adding that immigration has so far proven beneficial for the Turkish economy.
Can you give us a very short overview of migration trends in Turkey?
In the early republican period, the international migration flow went hand in hand with the nation-building process, with Turks and Muslims living in the Balkans and the Caucasus encouraged to come to Turkey.
In order to homogenize the population, the 1934 settlement law argued that Turkey should be populated by people of Turkish descent. In the 1960s, Turkey was seen as a country of emigration because of labor migration towards Europe.
Starting in the 1980s, Turkey began to turn into a country of immigration. For the first time in the history of modern Turkey, non-Muslims and non-Turks started to arrive in Turkey, starting with the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and later followed by regime change in Iran. In addition, Iraqis of different ethnic origins fled the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, while we had two influxes of Bulgarian Turkish refugees in 1989. In 1991, half a million Kurds from Iraq came, but this was only temporary.