Turkey is emptying of its lifeblood

“What if it doesn’t work? », Öznur worries, reviewing the list of documents requested by the German consulate for the umpteenth time. In a few days, she will have to go to the consular services to submit her marriage file with her German spouse, living in Berlin.

Purchasing power reduced by inflation and devaluation

An architect by training, she lives in a comfortable apartment in the center of Istanbul. The light is dim, sketches adorn the walls, piles of books litter every surface, and an Angora cat purrs on the imposing sofa in the middle of the room.

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At almost 40 years old, she did not think of giving in to the sirens of exile. Although the majority of her friends have left in recent years, she could not imagine living anywhere else. “I’m a good architect, but I’ve come to a point where I can’t find work anymore. I started going into debt, it’s hell. No matter which direction I plan to take, I’m at an impasse. Here, I have no guarantees, no security,” she says. Although Öznur is relieved to return to Germany, she concedes: “I will miss so many things here. »

“No space to be able to express myself freely”

In Turkey, the political atmosphere has also deteriorated considerably since the coup attempt of July 15, 2016. “No one trusts anyone anymore. Society is fragmented, politically very polarized. People hate people who don’t look like them.” worries Önder, a young programmer specializing in computer security. “I’m thinking of moving to Berlin, or Amsterdam, because here I don’t feel free. I am constantly self-censoring in the way I speak, dress, he continues, wiggling his nails covered in a layer of mauve varnish.

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Mina, thirty years old with long brown hair, shares this observation. “I thought of going abroad for the first time during my master’s degree. I am a woman, Kurdish, I am “queer” (belonging to a sexual minority, Editor’s note), and I could not find space to be able to express myself freely within the academy. I was always forced to conceal one of my identities. » The future doctoral student is preparing to move to Paris, where she will continue her research in the sociology of cinema at the EHESS.

According to a survey by the Metropoll Institute published at the end of January, no less than 53% of those questioned want to study or live abroad. This observation is all the more worrying for the future of the country as it concerns the young and the most qualified. The country is emptying of its lifeblood.

The political choice of denial

“If they want to leave, let them go,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched on Tuesday March 8 in a vindictive tone about doctors choosing to leave the country. As for other professions, the deterioration of working conditions is of great concern to the Council of Physicians. Faced with the expression of unease and demands from different segments of society, the Turkish president and the members of his government have opted for denial. The student demonstrations against the high cost of living at the start of the university year had thus been reduced to a challenge to power.

“I left because I could no longer bear life in Turkey, explains Kadir bitterly, and the problem is not just the state. People are reactionary, racist, anti-ecologist… It’s also about the destruction of a society. » At over 50 years old, this sports coach did not hesitate to fly away to rebuild his life on the west coast of the United States. No offense to those who stayed in the country, his Instagram account daily documents his new adventures, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Politically active in the past, he has lost all hope of improvement: “Of course, I’m not saying that the United States is a paradise. But for me, it’s the least bad solution. »


A worrying economic situation

The country is experiencing official inflation of 54%, which stems from a currency crash. Since the beginning of 2021, the Turkish lira has lost almost half (45%) of its value against the dollar.

The increase in production costs for companies exceeds 40%, as does that of foodstuffs (+ 86% for oil and + 54% for bread).

The overall unemployment rate is 11% and flirts with 22% among young people.

The latest official statistics available show nearly 400,000 departures of Turkish citizens over the period 2016-2019.

Presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for 2023.


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