New parliamentary committee to support Turks living abroad, address issues

Published 30.10.2017 20:10

The government has accelerated efforts to strengthen the Turkish diaspora, whose numbers have reached over 6 million, with plans to form a committee in Parliament to address issues faced by its citizens abroad.

Currently, there are no regulations regarding the Turkish diaspora in the Constitution, since Turkish society is defined in terms of citizenship and labor status.

A legislative proposal that was submitted for the formation of the Migration and Diaspora Committee stressed in its preamble that "the problems and needs of Turkish [members of] society, who live permanently in those countries have gone beyond the scope of ‘working life' issues; Turkish citizens living abroad need the support of our country in many fields."

Confronting discrimination, strengthening Turkish media abroad, encouraging participation in social and economic life and extending the teaching of the Turkish language are among the aims of the proposed committee.

The chairman of Parliament's Human Rights Investigation Committee, Mustafa Yeneroğlu, has stressed the need of a committee to be formed in Parliament.

"An expert committee where the voice of the Turkish diaspora can be heard will be formed in order to provide solutions to their problems," Yeneroğlu said, underlining that a busy agenda awaits them.

The Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Istanbul deputy said that the parliamentary committee will focus on finding solutions to the problems Turkish citizens have living abroad.

"The perspective toward Turkish citizens living abroad should be changed, as they stay there permanently," Yeneroğlu said, adding that the significance of the diaspora will be realized soon.

Commenting on his recent meetings in Europe, Yeneroğlu said: "In France, we discussed the issues of forming educational institutions for teaching Turkish and necessary steps for developing cultural activities."

He highlighted the significance of Turkish language education and protecting cultural identity to transfer it to the next generations. He also pointed out that many Turkish students living abroad do not have the required knowledge in written Turkish. He added that the number of Turkish students who go to university in France is low.

Touching on the implications of rising populism in the West on the Turkish diaspora, he said: "In an environment where right-wing populism rises in the West, minorities pay the price for that. For this reason, liberal societal structures are significant for minorities."

Yeneroğlu said that tendencies toward segregation and alienation can only be confronted by taking common steps and upholding the constitutional order of the respective countries.

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