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Germany’s international cooperation with Turkey dates back to the 1960s. The Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Turkey signed an agreement on technical cooperation in 1970. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has maintained an office in Ankara since 1998. Currently 119 national and 55 international employees are working in the country (as of 31.12.2017).

Turkey – a member of NATO and G20 – is located at the geopolitical intersection between Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East. A candidate country for accession to the European Union (EU) since 1999, it successfully combines economic development with fundamentally democratic structures. In just a few decades, it has evolved from a mainly agricultural to a diversified economy, although there is still a clear divide between east and west. In contrast to western Turkey’s modern industries, the east of the country is still underdeveloped in terms of infrastructure and relies on agriculture as a main source of revenue. Other challenges facing the country include its high dependence on energy imports, the impacts of climate change, the shadow economy and an inefficient bureaucracy.

Since the start of the crisis in neighbouring Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in almost three million Syrian refugees. It is also hosting refugees and asylum seekers from other countries in the region, including Iraq and Afghanistan. The Turkish authorities thus face major challenges in providing adequate education and health care, for example, for the new arrivals. Social cohesion is also at risk in some host communities, especially in the south of the country, where refugees now outnumber local residents in some municipalities. Working on behalf of the German Government, GIZ is assisting host communities in setting up education programmes and creating opportunities for generating income. GIZ also funds community centres which provide various services for refugees and local marginalised groups.

In addition, GIZ implements climate change and energy efficiency projects on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

GIZ is also actively engaged in EU pre-accession assistance programmes, focusing mainly on education and vocational training (TVET), employment, women’s empowerment and human rights.