Multicultural Turkey: The Story Of Centuries Of Migrations – OpEd


Turkey is known for hosting various waves of migration from many different cultures and nations throughout history. People of diverse origins, from Kurds to Armenians, Syrians, Arabs, Anatolian Jews who have lived in these lands for centuries, Romans, Greeks, and the Turkish tribes coming from Central Asia fleeing the Mongol invasions, have migrated to and settled in this region.

During the Ottoman Empire, the expelled Sephardic Jews from Spain, Circassians from the northeast, Balkan Turks, Bosniaks, Pomaks, Romani people, Belarusians, German Jews, and Ashkenazim found a place in these lands. Today, new waves of migration continue with Syrians, Afghans, and North Africans among others. These people have come to leave their homes, seeking a new haven, aiming for a more peaceful and comfortable life and to establish roots in these lands.

Turkey has a historically multicultural past, serving as a home to various cultures and nations living together. The interaction between different cultures has enriched and diversified these lands. Immigrants have brought different skills, traditions, and flavors to our country, thereby increasing societal diversity.

It seems that future waves of migration will continue to arrive in these lands. Although the stance toward refugees and new immigrants has hardened in recent years, due to the Gaza conflict, a large Palestinian population coming to Turkey is a possibility. Are we ready for this? We have no cultural connection with these new arrivals; their language, culture, and heritage differ from ours. We are not Arabs. Are we obligated to accept all refugees from the Middle East? Are there no other countries that can help? Why is that?

Every country needs a young, hardworking, and educated population, and Turkey appears to be preparing for the future by increasing its social diversity through these migrations. However, it is crucial to carefully consider and plan for the potential challenges and benefits of these migrations.

These new residents will undoubtedly contribute to our country’s social, cultural, and economic fabric, allowing Turkey to remain part of a rich cultural mosaic.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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