Turkey

 

2019

  • Rank: Comprehensive
  • MIPEX Score (with Health): 43
  • LABOUR MARKET MOBILITY
  • FAMILY REUNION
  • EDUCATION
  • HEALTH
  • POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
  • PERMANENT RESIDENCE
  • ACCESS TO NATIONALITY
  • ANTI-DISCRIMINATION

Key Findings

Changes in policy

In the 2010 MIPEX, Turkey ranked last of all MIPEX countries in terms of its approach to integration, scoring only 22 points on the 100-point MIPEX scale. Little changed by the 2014 MIPEX (+2 points), as Turkey’s foundational Law 6458 on Foreigners and International Protection left the new Migration Board to create the new procedures for international protection, work permits, residence permits and mutual ‘harmonisation’ of immigrants and society. In 2014, the situation was still unfavourable for integration in Turkey, ranked at the bottom of the MIPEX alongside China, Indonesia and India. MIPEX classified its approach as “Immigration without Integration” as legal residents were denied basic rights and opportunities and the public was encouraged to see immigrants as subordinates and strangers.

From 2014 to 2019, the average MIPEX country increased by +2 points on MIPEX. In contrast, Turkey made the greatest improvements to its integration policies, with +17 points. Turkey rose out of the Bottom 10 MIPEX countries.

Turkey is developing what MIPEX classifies as a basic comprehensive approach. While legal residents are not necessarily more secure about their long-term future, Turkey’s major improvements have gone halfway to guarantee them basic rights and opportunities while living in the country. With these fundamental shifts, Turkey has started to recognise its reality as a country of immigration.

Over the past five years, Turkey has committed to provide legal residents with basic access to education, health and discrimination protections. Turkey adopted its first comprehensive anti-discrimination law, the 2016 Law on the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey (2016). The Turkish education system started to integrate and support immigrant pupils and Turkish language learners, especially Syrian refugees. The health sector also guaranteed some minimum healthcare access for all residents, including the undocumented, while also providing basic information and support for immigrant patients to access healthcare services. Finally, small procedural improvements were introduced to access the Turkish labour market and Turkish citizenship, following international reform trends.

Positive changes on MIPEX indicators:

  • Public employment services
  • Measures to bring migrants into the teacher workforce
  • Measures to address educational situation of migrant groups
  • Language instruction standards in education
  • Language instruction in education
  • Educational guidance at all levels
  • Communicative/academic fluency
  • Access to higher education
  • Access to social security and assistance for permanent residence
  • Dual Nationality
  • Law covers direct/indirect discrimination, harassment, instruction
  • Anti-discrimination: Social protection
  • Anti-discrimination: Access to and supply of public goods and services, including housing
  • Anti-discrimination: enforcement mechanisms
  • Mandate of equality body
  • Equality bodies
  • Conditions for undocumented migrants to access healthcare
  • Information for migrants concerning entitlements and use of health services
  • Information for migrants concerning health education and promotion
  • Cost/availability of health interpreters
  • Involvement of migrants in information provision, service design and delivery

Negative changes on MIPEX indicators:

  • Dependent relatives’ access to family reunification

Conclusions and recommendations

As a result of these major reforms, Turkey’s integration policies shifted from slightly unfavourable (26/100) to halfway favourable (43/100) for societal integration. These reforms may have long-term positive impacts on public attitudes and awareness about immigration and discrimination. Still, Turkey has a long way to go to achieve “harmonization,” as immigrants face more obstacles than opportunities to participate and settle in Turkey. Turkey still ranks at-or-near the bottom in four of the eight MIPEX areas where its policies are weaker than the other MIPEX countries and relatively unfavourable: labour market mobility, political participation, permanent residence and anti-discrimination. 

Turkey’s basic comprehensive approach is not yet fully favourable for integration, as policies only go halfway to secure basic rights, equal opportunities and long-term security for both foreign and Turkish citizens. Turkey’s approach to integration does not yet encourage the public to see foreign citizens as their equals, neighbours and fellow citizens. These public attitudes will take time to change and Turkey’s new integration policies may help to improve harmonization as a two-way process.

A country’s integration policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, belonging, participation and even health in their new home country. Internationally, immigrants and citizens in the MIPEX ‘Top Ten’ enjoy equal rights, opportunities and security and the public is encouraged to treat immigrants as their equals, neighbours and fellow citizens.

Despite Turkey’s recent improvements, its policies still do not compare with the average MIPEX or EU country, which score around 50/100. However, Turkey’s integration policies rank alongside a few other Central and South-eastern European countries, such as Cyprus, Hungary and North Macedonia. More specifically, Turkey’s basic comprehensive approach is most similar to Greece and Malta, although both countries have more developed policies for equal opportunities in terms of labour market mobility, political participation and anti-discrimination.

  • Labour market mobility: Slightly unfavourable: Ranked in the bottom 5, most legal migrant workers are tied to their employer, without equal rights as workers and with little general and no targeted support to improve their job or skills.
  • Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Family reunification is the only policy area that became less favourable, as the conditions for eligibility for dependent relatives became more restrictive. Family reunification in Turkey still remains a rather discretionary favour of the state. The procedure is slightly discretionary, as authorities possess several grounds for rejection and withdrawal, and no explicit personal circumstances are considered. After three years, adult family members can apply for short-term residence permits autonomous of their sponsor.
  • Education: Halfway favourable: Previously the weakest area of Turkey’s integration policies, the situation has improved since 2014 thanks to a set of measures to support immigrant pupils and Turkish language learners, especially Syrian refugees. The children of legally-resident foreigners, asylum-seekers, and refugees are guaranteed the right to at least compulsory education. Furthermore, they receive general and targeted support (e.g., educational guidance and language support) and there are now measures in place to encourage mixed schools and diversity within the teaching sector.
  • Health: Slightly favourable: Migrants' entitlements to health services in Turkey are slightly more inclusive, since law 5510 includes asylum-seekers and persons with International Protection Application within the General Health Insurance coverage. All residents regardless of status now have access to emergency and primary health care services (free of charge). Additionally, immigrant patients now receive basic information and support to access healthcare services.
  • Political participation: Critically Unfavourable: Ranked in the bottom 10, foreign citizens are excluded from political participation in Turkey. Foreigners cannot vote or join political parties. Consultative bodies are also generally weak, as is the information and support for immigrant-led associations.
  • Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: Ranked last, alongside Denmark, Turkey has the most restrictive access to permanent residence among MIPEX countries. Legal residents face a long, exclusionary and discretionary path to be able to settle permanently with equal socio-economic rights, which includes access to social security since 2016.
  • Access to nationality: Halfway favourable: After 5 years, immigrants can apply for naturalisation, but they face discretionary and complex language, economic and other requirements, although dual nationality has been allowed since 2017.Turkey has not yet followed international reform trends to create citizenship entitlements for the Turkish-born children of foreign citizens. 
  • Anti-discrimination: Halfway favourable: The greatest shift in Turkey’s approach to integration was the creation of a national anti-discrimination law and equality body, thanks to the Law on the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey (2016). On paper, at least, protection now extends to all victims of ethnic, racial and religious discrimination in all areas of social life. Turkey also created basic enforcement mechanisms, including a body to assist victims and investigate cases. While these improvements may start to raise discrimination awareness and reporting, victims still face weaker protections than in most MIPEX countries, with Turkey ranked in the bottom 10. Major gaps and obstacles exist that undermine the enforcement mechanisms and the equality body, while nationality discrimination is still absent from Turkey’s approach.

POLICIES - SUMMARY

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