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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December 2004, 18:33 GMT
German Turks question EU fate
Turks in Berlin have mixed feelings about life in the European Union, the BBC's Ray Furlong reports, ahead of the key 16-17 December summit in Brussels to decide whether the EU opens membership talks with Turkey.

Ilker Duyan welcomes me at the door of his villa in Berlin's leafy Grunewald district, and ushers me through to his tastefully furnished living room.

Luetfiye Duyan (left) with son Serdlar and husband Ilker
The Duyans: Contrasting feelings about national loyalties
A well-stocked drinks cabinet catches my eye as we cross the parquet flooring and sit down on a leather sofa.

The Duyan family defy the cliches held by many Germans about the Turkish community living here - which centre on kebab shops, manual labourers, and Islamic headscarves.

"The integration debate in Germany has come too late. Both sides, German and Turkish, haven't done their homework," he says.

"The Germans thought that 'guest-workers' would come for a few years and then go home. We thought the same thing ourselves."

There are now more than 2.5 million Turks or people of Turkish origin living in Germany, most of them the "guest-workers" and their offspring.

Although I came here as a 14-year-old, although I feel integrated and have many German friends, I still feel like a foreigner
Luetfiye Duyan
Mr Duyan came here as a student in 1969, and now works as a manager for a pharmaceutical company.

"When you come here as a 20-year-old, you can't lose the traces of Turkish identity. I have German citizenship, but I can't deny my roots. I'd say that in my heart, there's room for both," he says.

"My mentality is more Turkish, but my reason and my political thinking are both German and Turkish. I can't divide it.

"Of course, we are in favour of Turkey joining the EU. But we're a little bit angry about the current discussion. Why are suddenly so many questions being raised? If you look at history, you'll see Turkey always looked to the West."

Mixed emotions

For Mr Duyan's wife, Luetfiye, this question has practical implications. Like many Turks in Germany, she has decided against German citizenship - so Turkey joining the EU would make travelling easier for her.

"I don't really feel at home here. Although I came here as a 14-year-old, although I feel integrated and have many German friends, I still feel like a foreigner," she says.

Women wearing Muslim headscarves in Berlin
In some parts of Berlin the Turkish influence is more obvious
"But I do feel European. I come from Istanbul and that's part of Europe."

The Duyan family encapsulate the complexity that the question of identity represents for Turks in Germany.

Their 14-year-old son, Serdlar, tells me he speaks better German than Turkish, but feels happier in Turkey. Their 16-year-old daughter, Oezlem, prefers it here.

The Duyans are one of the only Turkish families in this part of Berlin. Across town, Kreuzberg is a more traditional Turkish area - full of family-run businesses like fruit and vegetable shops or the inevitable kebab eateries.

This has led to criticism from some German politicians recently, who say that the Turks have not integrated enough into society, preferring instead to live separately among themselves.


The main opposition party, the Christian Democrats, is also opposed to Turkey joining the European Union. Opinion polls show most Germans are, too.

Entering a backstreet Kreuzberg tea shop, the charge that Turks here live in what has been dubbed a "parallel society" takes on a more tangible form.

I can't go back - my children have grown up and are living here. Now I don't really feel at home in Germany or in Turkey
Vilvie Hallajul
Everyone here is of Turkish origin. A portrait of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, looks down upon a group of men playing cards - and my translator, Iraz, is the only female present.

We've come here to meet Vilvie Hallajul, a retired carpenter who came here in the 1970s from Adana in south-eastern Turkey.

Speaking in Turkish, Mr Hallajul suggests that German reticence over EU membership for his country reflects a wider mistrust.

"When we first came here we were treated like children who don't know anything," he says.

"I was a real professional, but the German workers wouldn't let us touch the machines. These machines were like toys for us in Turkey, we were used to them."

Reflex action

Mr Hallajul has a very different background from the Duyan family, but he too feels the difficulty of the identity question.

"There were not many Turkish people here when I came. So when you walked on the street and saw someone you talked to him. Not speaking German well, it was really hard," he says.

"But I can't go back - my children have grown up and are living here. Now I don't really feel at home in Germany or in Turkey."

It is a classic fate for the "guest worker" generation, and it poses all sorts of problems. Back in Grunewald, Ilker Duyan points out that the majority of Turks who came here were from poor farming communities in the Anatolian plain.

"These Anatolian farmers have suddenly realised they have nothing to go back to, and they need to learn German - after 20 years here," he says.

"The Germans have suddenly noticed this and are alarmed. So there's a kind of 'shut the door' panic."

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