The steady inclusion of Turkey in the European process of integration has also increased the significance of bilateral German-Turkish relations. On the one hand, this is due to Turkey's unusual economic growth. On the other hand, Germany has a special interest in maintaining good relations with Turkey given that there are 1.7 million Turkish citizens living here as well as many Germans of Turkish descent. 25.9% of the people who adopted German citizenship in 2008 have a Turkish background. They represented the largest single group.
Economic cooperation is of course a very important factor in German-Turkish relations: More than 4,000 German companies have already established branches in Turkey and/or have made large-scale investments there. The volume of foreign trade with Turkey amounts to approximately 20 billion euros.
German science is highly respected in Turkey. Funding for scientific exchanges with Turkey dates back to 1951, but there is nevertheless still room for expansion. Today's young Turkish researchers are primarily interested in studying at Anglo-Saxon universities. The BMBF is steadily expanding its cooperation with Turkey in the fields of education, science and research so as not to lose the great potential for cooperation which Turkey offers.
There has been formal cooperation between the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) and the German Research Association (DFG) since 1984.
So far the legal framework for scientific technical cooperation (STC) between Germany and Turkey is formed by an individual agreement between the project management agency at Jülich Research Centre, on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and the TÜBITAK of 10 January 1997. The joint research funding programmes are supported by the activities and funding instruments of the two large scholarship organizations, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH).
The Turkish Government has been supporting the dynamic development and expansion of the country's higher education system for a long time and has set itself ambitious objectives for the future. There are plans to set up further universities, to increase the number of academic personnel to 150,000 by 2013 and to raise national research expenditure to 2% of GDP. The success of this initiative is reflected in the increase in international publications and patents. Turkey provided 250 million euros to the 6th Research Framework Programme and was thus for the first time the largest contributor among the accession candidates. Turkey is also an associated member of the 7th European Research Framework Programme.
Cooperation with Turkey is one of the priorities of the BMBF's international cooperation, particularly in the fields of
Apart from implementing joint German-Turkish funding programmes, specific events are also organized to initiate and intensify cooperation.
The Working Group "Science, Research and Technology" was founded in April 2006 within the framework of the German-Turkish Cooperation Council. The Working Group provides a forum for the BMBF and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) and other key stakeholders to discuss and promote topical questions of bilateral cooperation in research and technology.
Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan signed the "Agreement on the Foundation of a German-Turkish University in Turkey" in Berlin on 30 May 2008. The university is designed to be a visible beacon project in German-Turkish university cooperation and was advocated by both the German and the Turkish governments. Federal President Christian Wulff, Federal Minister Annette Schavan and Turkish State President Abdullah Gül jointly laid the foundation stone in October 2010.
The German-Turkish University is to begin its operations at the end of 2011. It is initially founded as a state institution with four faculties: Law; the Natural Sciences; the Economic, Cultural and Social Sciences; Engineering. The BMBF and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) are playing a key role in implementing the project.
Federal Minister Schavan and the Turkish Minister of Transport and Telecommunication, Binali Yildirim, signed an agreement on scientific and technical cooperation in the field of information and communication technologies during Minister Schavan's visit to Turkey in October 2010. This agreement forms the framework for the foundation of the German-Turkish Advanced ICT Research Center (GT-ARC) with sites in Istanbul and Berlin. The research centre is actively supported by German and Turkish industry as partners. As a public-private partnership it is well suited to the aims of the Federal Government's High-Tech Strategy. With its two sites and joint scientific team it is providing a new dimension in cooperation.
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